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MY TAKE ON SOME OF THE RUGBY NEWS STORIES WHICH COME INTO MY WORLD.
30 May 2016
The first 15-aside All Blacks squad of 2016 has been released by the NZRU. Ardie Savea is one of 6 confirmed new caps. Which means he’s also now a member of another ‘exclusive’ New Zealand rugby club; those who were picked first by Gordon Tietjens as New Zealand sevens reps. That list is now climbing fast towards 50 players. Below is my up-date list of ‘Titch’ All Blacks – or rather – the list of ‘he saw them first All Blacks!’ Read more »
26 April 2016
When I attempt to write a tribute about the late New Zealand broadcaster Peter Sellers it is very hard to know where and how to start. Firstly, anyone who is reading this who lives offshore from New Zealand might be saying now, ‘wasn’t Peter Sellers that very funny and talented British actor/comedian of the 1960s? Didn’t he die in 1980?’ Read more »
23 March 2016
In many ways it took the city of Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada to set several new standards for hosting and staging tournaments of the HSBC World Sevens series. Read on... Read more »
4 March 2016
These last few days there have been many fine tributes to test cricketer Martin Crowe. After his death the accolades to Martin have all been warm and all deserved.I was never a cricketer of any note but I would like to offer a tribute to him here if I may. Because Martin Crowe became a huge influence in my life. Read more »
10 January 2016
Here is the latest question to test the real rugby experts among us (self-styled or not) You might even call yourself a nerd! But the question has been raised to me in recent days - what is the widest age gap between two players playing in the same team of a full and official rugby test match. Read more »
3 January 2016
They say a week in politics is a long time. A lot can change... You could say that for a rugby referee the same principle applies. Back in 1971 Humphrey Rainey of Wellington who died on Boxing Day 2015 at the age of 89, was on his way to perhaps getting the call to control a test match on the British Lions tour Down Under of that year. But a week passed after a highly controversial match - and he did not. Read more »
Marty Berry came on v Australia at Eden Park in a losing Bledisloe Cup game for just 18 seconds. But his other midweek games for the ABs spread over 7 seasons.
Rosslyn Park and England
4 internationals for England 1936
One of rugby history’s most colourful characters, Prince Alexander Obolensky was the son of Prince Alexis of Russia. The young prince was born in Leningrad in 1916 but was taken to England the following year, presumably to avoid the Russian revolution.
He was educated at Trent College and Brasenose College, Oxford. ‘Obo’, as he was known, was an elegant and speedy wing and his rugby prowess was quickly recognised. Late in 1935 he played for Oxford in the annual Universities match, the first of three appearances in that famous game.
As a 19-year-old, early in 1936, he played for England against New Zealand at Twickenham. England caused an upset by thrashing the All Blacks by 13–0. Obolensky scored two tries, one of which has become a classic. His diagonal run through the New Zealand defence, as he scored for the second time, can still be admired on newsreel film footage and on YouTube. That game thereafter became known by rugby writers as ‘Obolensky’s match’.
After he left Oxford University his form fluctuated and fell away. He won only four caps, all in the 1935–36 season, but his memory is ensured both because of his colourful family background and his extraordinary, if briefly flowering, rugby talent.
A world record in first-class rugby is still entered in some books under Obolensky’s name. ‘Obo’ toured South America with a 'Rugby Football Union' team in 1936 (presumably an English selection), and in a game against Brazil he crossed for 17 tries, still a record for one game, though perhaps the first-class quality of the local XV might be called into question.
When World War II broke out, Obolensky joined the Royal Air Force. He died when the Hawker Hurricane he was piloting crashed on landing in East Anglia. He was the first of 111 rugby internationals from all countries to lose their lives in the conflict.
What was unique about the Hastings brothers, Gavin and Scott, when they made their debuts for Scotland?