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 November 2014
Aftermatch Report; New Zealand v England; November 8 2014 Read more »
6 November 2014
ALL BLACK'S "ENGLISH" TEAM Read more »
26 October 2014
When I was a skinny kid growing up in the King Country the national radio rugby commentator Winston McCarthy was as well known in our country as the All Blacks themselves or other newsworthy personalities like the Prime Minister, the Governor-General or Olympic athletes. Winston became my broadcast hero... Read more »
22 September 2014
All of this 'media speak' about the Aaron Cruden late night drinking incident in Auckland last weekend already smacks of not everything about its background being told to we of the rugby public. While it could be said - do we fans have a right to know the full facts - I for one would like to think the full facts ought to come out. They would have in the old days of the media. Now it seems everyone, both NZRU and the media, are often together in on a game of 'shoosh - if we only whisper about this, it won't be as bad as it might be.' Read more »
10 September 2014
Silly me. I know I should be totally delighted that the All Blacks and Samoa have agreed to play a rugby test in Samoa in July 2015 (and I am) but I heard and saw so many comments from the press conference comments in Wellington which still leave me doubtful that the New Zealand Rugby Union is REALLY as committed, as much as they say, to rugby in the Pacific. Read more »
2 September 2014
While I was away in Nanjing in mid-August I gather the media in New Zealand radio and rugby gave Pete Montgomery of Newstalk ZB in Auckland a good send off at the end of his sports broadcasting career. Read more »
Jack Manchester's All Blacks are beaten 13-0 by England at Twickenham, with the Russian Prince Alexander Obolensky as a winger, dashing in for 2 tries.
It was with great sadness but with a sense of inevitability that the famous Athletic Park ground in Wellington, New Zealand was pulled down in 2000. For over 100 years it had been known as the ‘Home of Rugby in New Zealand’.
Situated in the base of a high-sided valley running down to Cook Strait, Athletic Park was always in an exposed position, and was battered many times over the years by ferocious Wellington winds. The salty spray contributed to decay in the metallic stability of the double-tiered Millard Stand and after much local angst a decision was made to abandon the site for rugby and move to a new stadium in the city area of Wellington.
While there were many famous days on the superb playing surface, for both Wellington and All Black rugby, it is for its most infamous bad weather days that many remember Athletic Park most fondly.
The worst came in 1961 when the Wellington Rugby Union’s new pride and joy – the Millard Stand – was being ofﬁcially opened on the day of the France v New Zealand match. The southerly storm that weekend brought in winds gusting up to 80 mph (140 km/h) – one of the worst days in Wellington’s history. A large luxury liner, the Canberra, was so buffeted in Cook Strait that the ship could not enter the harbour, just a few miles away. Yet in this tempest a test match was played!
New Zealand won 5–3, with Don Clarke, the All Black fullback, kicking a sideline conversion that travelled across the wind in a crazy curving arc.
Athletic Park has also had its moments in the mud, no more so than in 1977 when the British Lions played the New Zealand Juniors. Not a single player from either side could be recognised at the end of the game.
But Athletic Park could be as effective a playing location as anywhere in the world and on its many top days, presented a ﬂat true ground and seating for the fans that was always close to the action. The record attendance was the 57,000 who crammed in to watch the second test between New Zealand and the British Isles in 1959.
New Zealand played its ﬁrst home test match at Athletic Park, against Great Britain in 1904. In the 1980s the All Blacks scored some handsome wins on the ground, including 42–15 v England in 1985, 46–15 v Argentina in the World Cup in 1987, and 49–12 v Argentina in 1989. In 1992 New Zealand beat a strong World XV 54–26 and in 1997 they posted the highest test score on the ground, beating Argentina by 93-8.
In its last years it became obvious that the facilities which are needed to service a modern rugby match were not all present at Athletic Park. It had very poor players’ changing rooms; there was one shabby function room and no permanent corporate boxes. And though there were some fierce debates about the ground’s future, the advantages of a new stadium in the city were overwhelming. The last test match was played on June 1999. Fittingly the All Blacks gave the old ground a great send off, beating France 54-7.
In which town or city was the first international rugby match played in Wales?