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MY TAKE ON SOME OF THE RUGBY NEWS STORIES WHICH COME INTO MY WORLD.
31 January 2015
Don't get me wrong here. I congratulate Uini Atonio for being selected in the French rugby team this northern season. Uini (pronounced 'Weeny') Atonio made his test debut before Christmas coming off the bench v Fiji in Paris and with all the attention then on the exploits of the All Blacks, Springboks and Wallabies in their tests in UK, Atonio's arrival and unique story kind of slipped under the main news. Read more »
30 January 2015
In the photo left to right are ex-All Black captain Dave Loveridge, the ex-All Black fullback Allan Hewson, yours truly (who will be back at the same ground commentating rugby sevens in sevens days time). Completing the pic is Adair Cameron, the General Manager of Williment Travel Group, in Wellington. Adair's friendly team hosted we three, and others, watching Sri Lanka playing New Zealand. It was a great night of fun and sporting chat. And watching the game unfold. Read more »
21 January 2015
On hearing the news that Gareth Anscombe, the former New Zealand Under-20 international, had been included in the first Welsh training squad in the 2015 Rugby World Cup year, got me thinking. While it's sad that New Zealand has lost yet another player to a country off shore it is something we have all had to live with. Read more »
13 January 2015
This story is part of folklore at the Barbarians Club in Auckland, New Zealand. It is one which shows that even in the middle of a feisty rugby test match a mother's pride will still come shining through! Read more »
9 January 2015
Browsing through rugby things in the New Zealand summer (as you do!) I found this amazing shot of Tommy Gentles a Springbok test halfback from 1955-58. (see attached photo) Get a look at how teeny this man was! The records show that he stood 1.60metres tall (that's about five feet 3 inches. His weight was a little over 57kgs = 9 stone. The photo was taken before a rugby test match in 1955 when Tommy made his debut against the touring British Isles team. Dare I suggest rather than in the dressing room as the caption for the photograph suggested it was taken perhaps in a studio before the official team photograph. But I met this man... Read more »
2 January 2015
People often ask me ‘what was the greatest game you ever saw?’ As a young reporter I used to say it was the magical King Country v Hawkes Bay game for the Ranfurly Shield in Napier in 1968 (Colin Meads’ King Country team just got pipped by Kel Tremain’s Magpies by 19-16; 8 tries in the game! – a real thriller!) (To put that into perspective for you, you ought to know I had been born in Te Kuiti and King Country was then ‘my’ team!) But nowadays for my ‘bestest’ game I always go back to the glorious memory of the All Blacks v South Africa game in Pretoria in 1996. There was so much at stake that day and the game more than matched its expectations. Read more »
The first All Black tour of South Africa is squared.
With South Africa leading the 4-match test series 2-1, NZ had to win this game in Cape Town. They did by 13-5.
Hawke’s Bay, East Coast and New Zealand
9 internationals for New Zealand 1924–30
A legendary figure in a legendary team, the 1924 ‘Invincible’ All Blacks. Only 19 at the time, George Nepia played all 38 matches during that gruelling tour of Australia, Britain, Ireland, France and Canada.
British sides were unstinting in their praise of Nepia, the rock on whom so many of their attacks foundered. His courage under the high ball and in repelling foot rushes, the crunching certainty of his tackling and the strength of his spiraled line kicking – all of these combined to restrict opposition teams to no more than 180 points against the All Blacks in the 38 games.
Nepia could also run with the ball. He had started his first-class career as a wing, then a five-eighth, before outstanding fullback displays in 1924 resulted in his being chosen as the only last line of defence. Early in the tour of Britain he made a sizzling run, but the dictatorial Mark Nicholls told him to leave the running to his five-eighths and three-quarters: his job was to defend. It was not until the 37th match of the tour, in Canada, that Nepia scored his first try!
A bogus telegram which advised the selectors of Nepia’s ‘unavailability’ cost him a place with the New Zealand Maoris’ trend-setting tour to Britain in 1927, and his All Black career finished after the 1930 home series against the British Isles. After a temporary retirement, Nepia returned to bid for a place with the 1935–36 All Blacks to tour Britain but was surprisingly not selected, though then playing as well as at any time of his career.
With his financial security in tatters at the end of the Depression, Nepia readily accepted the lure of rugby league money and played two seasons in England, and then for New Zealand. Reinstated to rugby in what was then called the ‘war-time amnesty’ which allowed rugby league professionals to return without recrimination to the amateur rugby union, Nepia played for East Coast in 1947, and in 1950 captained the Olympians club in a first-class fixture against Poverty Bay. George Nepia, father and son, were the fullbacks and captains on this historic day, George senior being 45 years old at the time.
He became an active referee and many spectators went to games just to watch Nepia referee, rather than see the two teams doing battle.
In 1987 and 2011 the All Blacks were the first rugby nation to win the World Cup twice; but which country was the first to win the World Cup's THIRD place match twice?