Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
14 September 2016
This message below is from John Lea of the Association of New Zealand Rugby Historians and Statisticians; A message to all followers of New Zealand rugby;
I hope wherever you are in the rugby world you might be interested in this phenomenal publication from Clive Akers, the Editor of the Rugby Almanack of New Zealand. I have personally found this new book fascinating and a fantastic reference for many queries and research topics! It is called;
New Zealand Rugby Register : The Players, Referees and Administrators in First-Class Rugby 1870-2015
It is the most extensive career record on players and referees in first-class rugby over the past 145 years.
For the first time, the New Zealand Rugby Register provides an alphabetical list of every provincial representative (men and women) since the game was introduced to New Zealanders in 1870.
820 pages containing approximately 40,000 names including NZ Sevens, NZ Age Grade, and NZ Schools representatives as well as prominent coaches, administrators, and rugby media.
A reference book for provincial union staff, journalists, media, rugby enthusiasts and genealogists.
A 35-year project compiled by Rugby Almanack co-editor Clive Akers.
Available only from NZ Rugby Museum, PO Box 36, Palmerston North 4440. firstname.lastname@example.org
Price: $195.00 including postage within New Zealand.
Review by LINDSAY KNIGHT
In all of New Zealand rugby there has never been a book quite like that which has been produced by long-serving Rugby Almanack co-editor and Rugby Museum chairman, Clive Akers. In his New Zealand Rugby Register Akers has recorded the names and biographical details of every player and referee and some of the administrators and coaches who have been involved from 1870 up until 2015 in New Zealand first-class games. He hasn’t stopped there and has also covered national sevens, age-group and secondary school representatives and prominent members of the media. It all amounts to more than 800 A4 pages, bound in a hard cover, which is a reflection of the staggering amount of research which Akers has devoted over many years to the project. Clearly while it is the most phenomenal reference book this writer has encountered in any sport, let alone rugby, the Register is not bed-time reading and is not going to be a best-seller. That obviously was not Akers’ intention. But it will be of immeasurable benefit to any family proud of a relative’s deeds, historians, statisticians and any media hack who has been assigned the task of compiling an obituary on any old All Black or rugby personality when they have passed away. Because it has inevitably involved mind-boggling research and covers such a comprehensive subject, one cannot vouch for the Register being 100% accurate. And if there have been mistakes or omissions then they would have to be regarded as understandable. But from a reasonably good knowledge of New Zealand rugby at many levels over the past 50 years or more I can find precious few and have found confirmation of one or two claims which have been made to me personally.
I now know that a fellow bowls club member, one Andrew Tait, had a first-class game for Golden Bay-Motueka in 1965 and a couple of media people of recent years, The Dominion-Post’s Toby Robson and Sky Television’s Grant Nisbett, appeared briefly in first-class rugby. Robson twice played for a Wellington XV in 2002 and Nisbett for a Wellington colts side against Horowhenua in a Queen’s Birthday match in 1969 when on the same day the A team played Manawatu and the Bs played Marlborough. The historically and politically minded will be equally fascinated to learn two Prime Ministers played first-class rugby, Keith Holyoake with Golden-Bay Motueka in the 1920s and before the turn of the 20th century George Forbes, the country’s hapless leader in the 1930s, for Canterbury. Another celebrated politician, from the Richard Seddon era, to have also played representative rugby was William Pember Reeves. You will also find that the famous soldier and former Governor-General, Bernard Freyberg, was a useful player with three games for Horowhenua, that Tem, the father of the entertainer Howard Morrison, played for Waikato and New Zealand Maori and that John Devoy, father of the squash champion Susan, in the 1940s was a midfield back for Wanganui and Hawke’s Bay. Or that the great lawn bowler Peter Belliss, before winning his world titles, was a Wanganui representative forward, continuing a family tradition which started with his grand-dad, Moke, a dynamic All Black wing forward in the early 1920s. Many of us no doubt have been assured, either by the person himself or his relatives, that so and so represented Auckland, Canterbury or Otago. That can be confirmed by the Register. Or it can be disproved for there are many who confuse playing for a province at schoolboy and junior levels with the elite few who were representatives at the approved first-class level.
One might have to be a history or statistical buff to fully enjoy Akers’ monumental work. But it’s an important contribution to the archiving of New Zealand rugby and it’s something for which Akers deserves both gratitude and unqualified congratulations.
Director New Zealand Rugby Museum
+64 6 358 6947 or 027 239 0050
It was the Welsh RU's 100th Centennial game. Expectations were high in Cardiff that day for a big home win but Graham Mourie's All Blacks took the cake 23-3!
OLYMPIC GAMES RUGBY
The advent of the Rugby World Cup in 1987 seemed to silence the calls which had surfaced from time to time for the return of rugby union for the fifth time to the programme at the modern Olympic Games.
Three countries took part in the rugby competition at the Paris Games in 1900, France beating Germany, 27–17, in one match and Britain, 27–8, in the other. Most of the British team came from the Moseley club. Its loss to France may seem a surprising result, given the modest standard of French rugby at that time, but the British players had spent 24 hours traveling from London before match day and were reportedly exhausted. France was awarded the gold medal, Germany the silver and Great Britain the bronze.
At the fourth Olympic Games in 1908 in London, only two nations took part: Australia, which was touring Britain at the time, and Britain itself. The English county champion side of that season, Cornwall, was chosen to represent Britain. Australia won 32–3 at White City Stadium in London.
At Antwerp in 1920, at the first Games after World War I, the underdogs, the United States, won the gold medal, beating France in the final by 8–0. The French team had been the favourite to win, as five of the team had recently appeared in the Five Nations championship.
In both 1908 and 1920 only two teams had entered the games, but in 1924 in Paris a proper, if small, tournament took place. Most publications claim that France beat Romania 61–3 (although the French records say 59–3). The United States also beat Romania, by 37–0. In the final the United States met France.
The game was a classic, which the Americans won, 17–3. More than 30,000 French spectators watched in alarm as their team suffered such a humiliation at the hands of the Americans (many of whom had never played rugby before). As the end grew nearer and the result was inevitable, the Americans were jeered by the crowd and one visiting supporter was knocked out after being hit in the face with a walking stick. At the medal ceremony, the playing of the United States’ national anthem was drowned out by the booing and cat-calling of the crowd. Police protection was needed for the departure of the American team from the Stade Colombes.
Before the 1928 Games there was a vote by members of the International Olympic Committee over whether rugby should be included at Amsterdam. IOC members were inclined towards individual events rather than team sports, and there was also a demand for a greater opportunity for women to take part. There was a theory, too, that the British rugby-playing countries did not strongly endorse the sport’s continuation at the Games. One of rugby's greatest supporters on the IOC, Baron Pierre de Coubertin of France, had retired in 1925.
The vote was lost, and rugby never regained an official place at the Olympics. In the 1936 Summer Olympic games in Berlin, the so-called 'Hitler Games' rugby was included again, but as a 'Demonstration' sport. Four countries took part; Germany, Italy, France and Romania. France beat Romania 19-14 in the final.
In the years ahead a number of countries expressed support for the 15-aside version of rugby to return to the Olympic programme. There were especially strong attempts in 1980 (endorsed by the Soviet Union) and in 1988 (endorsed by South Korea) to have rugby re-admitted to the Games programme. Both attempts failed.
A significant moment for rugby next came in 1994 when the IRB was endorsed into the Olympic movement as a full sporting member.
In 2002 the International Rugby Board, encouraged perhaps by the presence of an ex-Belgian rugby international, Jacques Rogge, as the new IOC President, rugby tried again but this time with the idea of sevens rugby being included for the Beijing Summer Games of 2008.
This again failed, it was said that one factor being that women's teams were not included in the IRB planning. By 2009 with a World Cup for women having been (hurredly) put in place the passage for sevens to be included in the Rio de Janeiro Games of 2016 was made easier.
This happened in October 2009 in Copenhagen when the full IOC Congress endorsed the sevens version for both men and women. In fact the first appearance of sevens rugby will be at the Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China in August, 2014.
[Additional note; There is one player in Olympic rugby history who deserves special mention. He is Daniel Carroll, the speedy wing from Sydney, Australia, who was a gold medalist with the Australian team at London in 1908, and later settled in America. He played for the United States in the Olympics of 1920 and won a rugby gold medal for that country, becoming the first and only player to win two Olympic rugby gold medals. He was also coach of the 1924 United States team.]
What was unusual about Daniel Dubois' play in the second half of the South West France game v Australia in 1967?