Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
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MY TAKE ON SOME OF THE RUGBY NEWS STORIES WHICH COME INTO MY WORLD.
8 July 2015
This is a piece I wrote for a history of the 1991 Rugby World Cup. I tried to capture with dignity (and fairness!?) one of rugby's most memorable days. Though perhaps Welsh fans might not agree! Read more »
25 June 2015
So what about that 1995 Rugby World Cup - and especially the final? Well, the whole thing was a great event with the All Blacks playing by far the best rugby of any team at the tournament. That of course was never better shown then in the way they demolished England by 45-29 in the semi-final at Cape Town. Read more »
10 June 2015
My story on the late Jerry Collins having to front for a TV interview straight after an All Blacks World Cup defeat in 2003 has been picked up and run on the New Zealand Herald. As a result of that the All Blacks media manager from that New Zealand team has sent his version of events. I thank Matt McIlraith and publish his comments. Read more »
9 June 2015
My rugby writing friend Frankie Deges of Buenos Aires has this week wondered why I did not include in my website 'tribute' to the life Jerry Collins any mention of the time I was furious with the way Collins was treated by the management of an All Black team which he had just given his guts on the field for... so I publish that story right here. Read more »
8 June 2015
Many warm words have been written in recent days about the life of Jerry Collins. However some of the tributes have been of the once-over-lightly variety. This one is written by a Kiwi who prefers to be called 'Inky.' - nothing more nothing lees. I know who Inky is by name and I'll vouch for him as a rugby authority. I liked his tribute so much, with all its excellent new information about Jerry, that I thought i'd run again it here. I know I've kinda pinched it, but thanks Inky old mate! Read more »
4 June 2015
There we were the other day; two blokes sitting at home on a rainy afternoon in Wellington. We had nothing to do except pass the time of day away. The wives were out shopping and like the diligent husbands we are we were waiting at home for them. It was too early for a beer, there was tea in the pot and a new cake on the plate. But when we started talking about the composition of the 2015 All Blacks World Cup team the cake got ignored and the tea went cold. 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.
Cardiff and Wales
53 internationals for Wales 1967–78
10 internationals for British Isles 1968–74
Gareth Edwards was one of the most widely acclaimed rugby players of all time – a brilliantly versatile halfback and a strong physical competitor who captured the imagination and admiration of players and followers all over the world.
Edwards first came to prominence outside Wales as a teenager on the Cardiff club’s tour of South Africa in 1967, where he played in a number of positions in the backline. Once back in Wales his enormous talents were soon focused on scrumhalf play. He was chosen for his country three months before his 20th birthday and was never dropped until his retirement. Ten years later, with 53 caps, he had set a record for most internationals for Wales, which stood until passed by J.P.R. Williams in 1981. Edwards’s tests were consecutive – both a world record then, and a monumental feat.
In all his internationals, he was in the losing side on no more than 15 occasions. He scored 20 tries in internationals, at the time also a Welsh record, although later equalled by Gerald Davies and later still passed by Ieuan Evans and Gareth Thomas. Edwards’ total of 63 internationals was also, in its time of few tests in any year, the world’s highest for a scrumhalf. He was Wales’s youngest ever international captain (20 years, seven months in the match against Scotland in February 1968).
At the time of his debut for Wales, in the Five Nations match v France in 1967, Edwards was a physical education student at Cardiff Training College. Later, he switched clubs to Cardiff and became a successful businessman. Later still, at the end of his playing days, he was a media commentator and reporter on the game.
A master of the spin-pass, Edwards had all the other attributes of the complete scrumhalf. His kicking was skilful, his running devastating to any of the opposition that could stay near his electric bursts, and his competitiveness was relentless. He dominated many matches simply because of his presence on the field. He was a brilliant opportunist and scorer of tries.
Perhaps the only aspect of his game that did not reach the highest level was as a captain. Many people felt he was inhibited slightly as a leader, with the result that other Welshmen came past him to lead the national XV. He did not resent this, rather it allowed him to return his full concentration to the scrumhalf role. In all, he was captain of his country in 13 tests.
Edwards played superbly in partnership with that other great Welsh personality, Barry John. The two were together as a scrum-outside half combination on 23 occasions, then the world record. Edwards was part of the great era in Welsh rugby that followed almost exactly the dates of his career. He also played superbly for the British Isles in New Zealand in 1971 and in South Africa in 1974. Both those series were won during what were some of British rugby’s greatest days.
He took part in and, indeed, scored the try that is often hailed as one of the greatest ever seen in the game. It was for the Barbarians club against the All Blacks of 1972–73 at Cardiff. The capacity home crowd of 60,000 roared so loudly they distorted forever the television recordings of Edwards diving in at the end of a 90-metre movement.
Edwards possessed a most charming and modest personality, and became in his time one of the most revered characters in Wales – and the rest of the rugby world.
In 1997 he was one of the first players inaugurated into the International Rugby Hall of Fame.
Stories abound about Gareth Edwards’ prowess at the game. One story has it that on the day of an England-Wales game at Twickenham, one Welsh supporter could not get a ticket so he waited forlornly outside the ground hoping at least to soak up some of the atmosphere and to hear the result. Eventually he became frustrated at not knowing what was happening in the game, so he called up to some people who were in the ground and asked them what was happening. They happened to be English, so they called back ungraciously that all the Welsh team except Gareth Edwards had been carried off injured. This disturbed the already sad Welsh supporter, but he remained typically optimistic. When a huge roar erupted from the ground a few minutes later, he again called up to the crowd. ‘What’s happened, what’s happened?' he said, 'Gareth scored, has he?’
Such a story is typical of the admiration and affection that existed for one of the greatest of rugby men.
Who played ten tests for the All Blacks - but only in NZ?