Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
You are here: Home » To 1989-90 Wallaby Peter FitzSimons
This Ten Questions idea is to ask a leading rugby personality; either a player, from the the media or an administrator some questions which may prompt a response from them which we have not heard of before;
Peter, or 'Fitz' as he is widely known generously replied to me while on holiday in France. So typical of a very nice man. His Saturday and Sunday 'FitzFiles' columns in the Sydney Morning Herald are a must to read! His many books are too!
PETER FITZSIMONS: The former Wallaby rugby international forward is now much better known as a prolific writer of biographies and historical works. He lives on Sydney's north shore and readily agreed to respond to KeithQuinnRugby.com's questions.
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.
As I write this my wife and I are heading to Donzenac, a little village north of Brive, France where I played rugby for four years in the 1980s. We go back every year. This year we are in a buying mood, for a little house atop a hill, overlooking 'Donza.'
Lack of generosity of spirit.
I have no superstitions, which includes no belief in any religions. I find the likelihood of there being a Magic Sky Daddy up there - of any description - to be literally beyond belief. I have had many discussions on this subject with Nick Farr-Jones and he is mad. Do you hear me? MAD!
My proudest achievements, and greatest are two distinct things. I remain tragically proud of being the only Wallaby sent from the field against the All Blacks for violence. My greatest achievement is to have written 25 books in the last 25 years, not all of them colouring in books.
My late mother's notebook, where she put down her thoughts on various things, for over 70 years.
A just completed book, three happy children, a happy wife, and being on my way back to Donzenac with her. How funny I should say that...!
I have books that have sold really well in Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Holland, and sold reasonably well in UK and USA. But I have never had a dinkum international best seller, and I want one! My best chance is the world discovering just how extraordinary the saga of the shipwreck of the BATAVIA is, off the west coast of Australia in 1629. Please buy it and TELL EVERYONE!
One is; "There is no problem so great that enough gin 'n tonics can't fix them in the short term!' And...'The Art of Writing is the Art of Rewriting!'
Wales 13 NZ 8 in Cardiff; Their first win over the All Blacks for 50 years. But as of 2014 they had never beaten NZ again in over 50 more years!
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.]
How many Wanganui club players were in the combined King Country-Wanganui team which beat the 1966 British Lions team in Wanganui?