Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
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Dennis Lillee and John Newcombe. I dreamed of opening the bowling for Australia, and winning Wimbledon. True, I achieved neither, but I did once get a very useful 2 wickets for 8 for the Knox Grammar School's Under14 C team, and I also once took a set off Julian Lovell in Fifth Form. And he went on to be AT LEAST one of the top ten tennis players of the Sixth Form at Knox Grammar.
All Black TERRY LINEEN, test cricketer BERT SUTCLIFFE and the world champion middle-distance runner PETER SNELL
From soccer it was Leeds and Juventus' 'Il Gigante Buono', Swansea born John Charles. From rugby, it was former Swansea, Wales and British Lion wing threequarter Dewi Bebb. By chance, we became work colleagues at HTV Wales in years to come. When I commentated on the final of the Rugby World Cup in South Africa in 1995, Dewi was directing back in Cardiff. At the end of transmission, he opened all the microphones and declared that was his finest hour in broadcasting. Thousands of miles away in Jo'burg I shed a tear. Nine months later he passed away. I cried.
The grand old Wellington ground had to go but NZ said goodbye in great style beating France 54-7.
You cannot have a rugby match without a ball. According to legend, the ball that William Webb Ellis picked up and ran with at Rugby School in 1823 was similar in shape to the oval ball of today. Why Rugby School played with an oval football before running with it in one’s hands was allowed is a mystery, but the evidence is that balls of that shape were used for many years before Webb Ellis attended the school.
It could be that different forms of football were traditionally played with a pig’s bladder as the ball. Any good pig-hunter will tell you that a pig’s bladder, when inflated, is basically oval in shape. When, by 1840, leather covers were made for the bladders, they were fitted to that shape. Thus today’s rugby ball is a direct throwback to the pig’s bladder balls that were kicked around the playing fields of Rugby School early in the nineteenth century. The ‘feet only’ game of association football adopted the round ball on its own.
For years South African rugby favoured using an eight-paneled leather ball, as distinct from the standard four panels used elsewhere. In 1961 it joined the rest of the world in adopting the four-panel ball.
The first rubber bladders were made in 1870. Another significant change to the rugby ball came in 1931 when the rather squat shape of the early ball, which made for easier place-kicking and drop-kicking, was replaced by a narrower, more torpedo-like shape that is able to be passed more easily. The length was shortened by one and a half inches (35mm). A lace to hold the inner bladder together used to be found on every ball, but is now missing from the modern ball.
The main other differences that exist in the modern ball are that they are made out of synthetic rubber and have thousands of raised lumps on their surface. All are designed to give greater grip for the players’ handling. Whether they do aid catching and dispatching in a pass is the subject of endless debate among rugby watchers.
Also used on every ball are various brand names, as companies vie to have their ball used in major televised fixtures and therefore expand brand exposure and sales.
Two of Ireland's most famous players were known as Jackie Kyle and Willie-John McBride; what were the two 'proper' Christian names each man had?