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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.
1 September 1956
The All Blacks win in Auckland, thus taking its first ever test series v South Africa - at last!
On a dramatic day at Eden Park NZ wins 11-5 and takes the 4-test series by 3-1. Peter Jones scored a try and made a great radio speech. He was 'buggered,' he said!
Rosslyn Park and England
4 internationals for England 1936
One of rugby history’s most colourful characters, Prince Alexander Obolensky was the son of Prince Alexis of Russia. The young prince was born in Leningrad in 1916 but was taken to England the following year, presumably to avoid the Russian revolution.
He was educated at Trent College and Brasenose College, Oxford. ‘Obo’, as he was known, was an elegant and speedy wing and his rugby prowess was quickly recognised. Late in 1935 he played for Oxford in the annual Universities match, the first of three appearances in that famous game.
As a 19-year-old, early in 1936, he played for England against New Zealand at Twickenham. England caused an upset by thrashing the All Blacks by 13–0. Obolensky scored two tries, one of which has become a classic. His diagonal run through the New Zealand defence, as he scored for the second time, can still be admired on newsreel film footage and on YouTube. That game thereafter became known by rugby writers as ‘Obolensky’s match’.
After he left Oxford University his form fluctuated and fell away. He won only four caps, all in the 1935–36 season, but his memory is ensured both because of his colourful family background and his extraordinary, if briefly flowering, rugby talent.
A world record in first-class rugby is still entered in some books under Obolensky’s name. ‘Obo’ toured South America with a 'Rugby Football Union' team in 1936 (presumably an English selection), and in a game against Brazil he crossed for 17 tries, still a record for one game, though perhaps the first-class quality of the local XV might be called into question.
When World War II broke out, Obolensky joined the Royal Air Force. He died when the Hawker Hurricane he was piloting crashed on landing in East Anglia. He was the first of 111 rugby internationals from all countries to lose their lives in the conflict.
In which New Zealand Rugby Province was the Ranfurly Shield resident for the longest duration of time?