Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
22 April 2015
Here's an obituary about an old Irish star forward who will be much missed. I met Jimmy McCarthy a number of times. Not only was he a lovely, friendly bloke but the Irish players of modern times loved him too. He was seemingly always close to the national team. This report on his death I reprint from the Irish Rugby Football Union's official website;
Jim McCarthy, one of the heroes of Ireland's 1948 Grand Slam winning team, has sadly passed away. He died peacefully today at his home in Dublin.
McCARTHY Jim (Sutton, Dublin and formerly Cork), 21st April 2015 (peacefully) at home, beloved husband of Pat, wonderful and charismatic father to Orlaith, James, Cooleen, Clodagh, Patricia, Conor and the lovingly remembered Richelle. He will be greatly missed by his family, his sisters Moira, Sr Aileen, brothers Owen and Dan, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, his twenty adoring grandchildren, all his relatives and a multitude of friends and admirers. Rest in peace.
Reposing at his home this Thursday (April 23rd) from 4pm until 8pm. Removal on Friday morning (April 24) to the Church of the Sacred Heart, Donnybrook, arriving at 10.50am for 11am Funeral Mass followed by burial in St Fintan's Cemetery, Sutton. All enquires to Fanagans Donnybrook on (01) 215 3980.
'He left nothing on the pitch'
Born in Cork in the mid-1920s, James Stephen McCarthy played 28 times for Ireland, making a try-scoring debut in the 1948 Championship opener away to France. He was ever-present during the campaign, forming a legendary back row combination with Bill McKay and Des O'Brien.
The quick-witted flanker, a Munster Rugby and Irish Rugby Writers' Hall of Fame inductee, scored eight Test tries, a then record for a forward, with braces against both Scotland (1949) and France (1952).
A match programme profile from his first international season said that McCarthy was 'a wholehearted wing forward in the real Munster tradition. He is a tireless skirmisher who is now adding ability to handle and run with the ball to his previous skill as a dribbler (which was an integral part of the game back then)'.
He was the first Munster player to captain Ireland, leading his country four times between 1954 and 1955 including a win over Scotland in Belfast. He skippered Munster against South Africa at Thomond Park in 1951 and New Zealand at the Mardyke in 1954.
The Ballintemple native, known affectionately as 'Jim Mac', won three Championships (1948, 1949 and 1951) and two Triple Crowns with Ireland and toured New Zealand and Australia with the British & Irish Lions in 1950.
The small dynamo of an openside was one of the fittest players of his generation, covering a huge amount of ground. He was a stalwart of Dolphin Rugby Football Club in Cork, with whom he won Munster Junior and Senior Cup honours. He also tasted success with Christian Brothers College in the 1943 Munster Schools Senior Cup.
In John Scally's book of '100 Irish Rugby Greats', the author noted of McCarthy: "He is best remembered as a breakaway forward of the highest quality. He brought a new dimension to wing forward play, particularly in relation to helping the out-half breach the opposing half.
"A flying redhead, he was an invaluable ally to Jack Kyle, combining with him to devastating effect. His back row combination with Old Belvedere's Des O'Brien and Bill McKay (Queen's University), in those years, is among the finest in Irish rugby history."
Asked about the secret to his success as a flanker, McCarthy simply said: "Wherever the ball is, you be there. And when I was playing for Ireland, the best place to be was two feet behind Jackie Kyle."
[Final note from www.keithquinnrugby.com 'What a powerful tribute and legacy he has left the rugby world. There would not be a player anywhere who would not love to have 'He Left Nothing on the Pitch' on their headstone.]
RIP Jim McCarthy.
The great All Black Colin Meads was sent off v Scotland at Murrayfield. Did he deserve to go? All NZ says 'no!' But the ref had the final say.
Newport and Wales
1 international for Wales 1967
A player who is an example from rugby that because of one mistake made in one game a stigma can be attached to a name throughout a playing career.
John Jeffrey was a 22-year-old student who, in 1967, was selected for the first time to play for Wales in an important game against New Zealand.Sadly for Jeffrey he made a mistake. Early in the second half of a tension-filled game the All Blacks took a shot at goal into a howling Cardiff wind. As the kick came down short of the posts, young Jeffrey kept his appointment with destiny. He caught the ball then flung an erratic pass over his head as the All Black tacklers stormed down on him. The ball flew to open ground and a New Zealander, Bill Davis, following up quickly, dived on it to score.
Wales lost the game 6–13 and the Welsh selectors knew who to make their scapegoat. They dropped Jeffrey from their team and he was never asked to play for Wales in an international again.
Years later there were claims that Jeffrey’s play as a No. 8 was never realistically assessed; many lesser players were given better chances to prove themselves in the international arena. But it is not widely remembered that Jeffrey toured Argentina with the Welsh team in 1968. He also played for the Barbarians on tour in South Africa in 1969 and for them against South Africa at Cardiff in January 1970.
Jeffrey’s inclusion here in this listing is, perhaps, a reminder that the vagaries of selectorial whim and hasty judgments both on and off the field can make or break a rugby player, no matter how good he might be.
Piri Weepu played 71 tests for the All Blacks; how many times did he play for the full 80 minutes?