Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
You are here: Home » To New Zealand Radio and TV Commentator John McBeth
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 might not have heard of before;
John McBeth has been a work colleague of mine for over three decades. Like me he began in radio and later switched TV. He 'came over' to TV in 1992 (Actually he replaced me as TVNZ's rugby commentator. And several years later the bosses decreed I should replace him!) The swings and arrows of the broadcasting bosses' decision making has not swayed the two of us from having a close and firm friendship. We are very good mates. The parallel lines of our careers even went so far as to both being made redundant from TVNZ on the same day! (August 17, 2007!)
We then set out to be 'freelance' reporters and have had many a fun time together. Perhaps the most memorable was the 10 days we spent together on holiday in Scotland between the Athens Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in 2004. John drove the whole way - I navigated and selected the music to play in the car - and our mateship survived! John lives in Wellington with his wife Rae.
All Black TERRY LINEEN, test cricketer BERT SUTCLIFFE and the world champion middle-distance runner PETER SNELL
NO, BUT IF FORCED TO ANSWER I WOULD PICK SEVERAL PLACES IN FRANCE. I LOVE THAT PLACE!
I KNOW I HAVE A RELUCTANCE TO DECLINE REQUESTS. I CAN’T SEEM TO SAY ‘NO’
SPREADING RUMOUR OR GOSSIP
I FEAR 'USING THE WRONG WORD'. IT'S A BROADCASTING THING I GUESS.
NEVER SWEARING IN A COMMENTARY - OR WAS IT CONVINCING A MASSIVE TV AUDIENCE THAT I KNEW SOMETHING ABOUT YACHTING DURING HUNDREDS OF HOURS OF AMERICA’S CUP COVERAGE.
LET ME EXPLAIN THIS ONE: I WAS TOURING WITH THE FRENCH RUGBY TEAM IN 1989 AS THE NATIONAL RADIO COMMENTATOR. I RECALL THEY WERE NOT A PARTICULARLY POPULAR TEAM WITH THE KIWI MEDIA. WE THOUGHT THEM SLIGHTLY STAND-OFFISH, SOMETIMES RUDE, BUT MAYBE THAT WAS THE LANGUAGE DIFFICULTIES.
AT THE END OF THE BROADCAST OF THEIR THIRD TOUR GAME AGAINST SOUTHLAND IN INVERCARGILL I WAS PACKING UP MY GEAR WHEN I NOTICED TWO POLICEMEN WAITING TO TALK TO ME OUTSIDE THE COMMENTARY BOX.
THEY MET ME AND GRIMLY TOLD ME THAT WHILE I WAS ON THE AIR COMMENTATING, MY BROTHER HAD BEEN KILLED IN A CAR CRASH.
THIS WAS DEVASTATING NEWS OF COURSE.
i WENT BACK TO THE HOTEL STRAIGHT AWAY AND PICKED UP MY LUGGAGE. I HAD DECIDED TO LEAVE AND DRIVE HOME (TO TIMARU WHERE MY PARENTS LIVED).
AS I WAS CHECKING OUT OF THE HOTEL AND STANDING AT THE FRONT DESK THE FRENCH TEAM'S BUS PULLED UP. THEY WERE RETURNING FROM THE GAME TOO.
WHEN THEY CAME IN THE CAPTAIN PIERRE BERBIZIER AND COACH JACQUES FOUROUX IMMEDIATELY CAME UP TO ME. THEY BOTH SOLEMNLY SHOOK MY HAND AND TRIED TO EXPRESS THEIR SYMPATHIES TO ME IN HALTING ENGLISH. OBVIOUSLY THEY HAD HEARD THE NEWS. BERBIZIER THEN LOOSENED HIS PERSONAL FRENCH TEAM TIE AND OFFERED IT TO ME WITH TEARS IN HIS EYES.
TO PUT IT SIMPLY, THAT GESTURE AND THE TIE (AND THE DAY OF COURSE) STILL MOVES ME ALL THESE YEARS LATER. I CONSIDER IT MY MOST PRIZED REMINDER OF HOW GOOD THE BROTHERHOOD OF ALL SPORT CAN BE!
BEING ABLE TO RECALL CLEARLY ALL THE WONDERFUL EVENTS OF MY PAST LIFE AND TRAVELS.
I’M JUST DRAWING UP A BUCKET LIST BUT AM STUCK ON ITEM ONE
MY MOTHER ALWAYS TOLD ME THAT "IF A JOB’S WORTH DOING IT’S WORTH DOING WELL." I’VE STUCK WITH THAT.
The second 'Barbed Wire' test match of 1981; and South Africa fights back.
The dramatic test at Athletic Park has SA winning 24-12. More protests in the Wellington Streets but the three-test series is set up at one-all.
Swansea and Wales
26 internationals for Wales 1949–59
2 internationals for British Isles 1955
One of the finest loose forwards Wales produced in the post World War II era, who later became one of the best writers on the game. His full name was Richard Clement Charles Thomas, but from his earliest days the shortened ‘Clem’ was a welcome diminutive.
A tough flanker, he was a ‘Swansea Jack’ through and through, who first made the Welsh team for its end-of-season international against France in Paris in 1949. France won narrowly by 5–3, in what was a battle to avoid last place in the championship. Thomas paid the price for what some in Wales saw as a premature selection (he was only 20 years old) and he was not asked to play internationally again for two seasons.
He was recalled in 1952 as part of the Grand Slam-winning Welsh team and continued to represent Wales until 1959. He toured South Africa as part of the 1955 Lions team, but appendicitis restricted him to two of the four test matches.
Thomas was Welsh captain in his last two seasons, 1957–58 and 1958–59, and was tipped as a possible captain of the British Lions to New Zealand in 1959. Perhaps it was Wales’s modest record in the 1958–59 season which held him back from winning that honour.
When Thomas retired, the butcher became a successful businessman, as well as writing for the Guardian and the Observer with much distinction.
When discussions about Clem Thomas arise in Welsh rugby he is invariably remembered as the player who put in the famous cross-kick against New Zealand in Cardiff in 1953. Thomas was close to the touchline on one side of the field, and, seeing his way ahead blocked by All Blacks, he kicked the ball on an angle towards the goal posts. The two rival wings, arguably the fastest two men in world rugby at that time, Ron Jarden of New Zealand and Ken Jones of Wales, were both standing clear of any other players. When Thomas’s kick landed, it bounced perfectly into the hands of Jones and he sprinted in for a winning try. As the kicker of the ball Thomas was acclaimed as a hero for Wales, and in the years afterwards, he often reflected how his life might have changed had the ball bounced the other way into the hands of Jarden, the flying All Black!
Players with the surnames of Jones, Williams and Thomas when added together made up how many players in the Welsh squad at the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia?