Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
You are here: Home » To 1995 Tongan rugby International and now TV commentator Willie Los'e
This Ten Questions idea is to ask a leading rugby personality; either a player, or from the the media or an administrator some questions which may prompt a response from them which we have not heard of before;
Here is an example of what one can achieve in one's 'post-rugby' life through perseverance and concentration. I first got to know Willie when his international rugby days from Auckland and North Harbour in New Zealand were over and he was nearing the end of eight years of playing in Japan. He had played for his native Tonga at the 1995 Rugby World Cup and had had a 'good life' from the game. From my early conversations with him I learned that he was heading towards a crossroads in his life. What to do next?
Apparently the idea of broadcasting came into his horizon. He had a stint at the microphone with us in the very early years of the IRB Sevens World Series in Japan (in 2000 I think) and maybe that was the taster. Soon Willie was back in New Zealand and committed to attending a Broadcasting School in Wellington. From there his pass marks took him into stints, firstly on radio in Auckland on NewsTalk ZB and more latterly as a full-time commentator on Super 15, ITM Cup and more IRB Sevens events on Sky TV in New Zealand and in many parts of the world. This genial character, sometimes the life and soul of the party, is also in demand as an after-dinner speaker and gym instructor.
My thanks to Willie for his willingness to open up to 'Ten Questions' on keithquinnrugby.com
The great Auckland and All Black winger Bryan Williams was one. I really loved watching 'BeeGee' play. But I grew up out in West Auckland and there was a massive Rugby League following out that way then. So I loved seeing those brilliant Kiwi outside backs Dane O'Hara and Fred Ah Khoi play too.
Vancouver in Canada I think is one of the nicest cities in the world. I've been there recently and loved it. It has a lot of similarities to NZ.
I'm really not sure. Am I the best person to ask?
I totally deplore all the backstabbing there seems to be too much of in life. I also hate, can I say - gutless wonders!? You know what I mean.
Not really although in my playing days I would always put on my left sock first. I never quite knew why!
Firstly, I'll go for two of my very proudest moments? That's easy. Becoming a dad for the first and second time were days I will never forget. Then in a rugby sense playing my first test at the Rugby World Cup in South Africa in 1995. It was Tonga v France at Loftus Versfeld Ground in Pretoria. I cried right through the Tongan National anthem - I just wished and wished my parents had been still alive to have been there.
It's a piece of art I commissioned to be painted for one of New Zealand's best beaches in the far north. And the lovely house I designed on the water in which the painting sits.
Being with mates, friends and family with lots of love and laughter......Perfect!
I have yet to attend a Commonwealth Games or Olympics but I hope to achieve either or both of those over the next four years. Now that I'm fully into my broadcasting career those two are the 'biggies.'
I've always liked the little expression I heard first years ago; 'Put your hand Up not out.' I reckon that has worked for me.
In Moscow the NZ Women beat Canada 29-12 to win their first world 7s final. An hour later NZ's Men's team beat England 33-0 for a great 'daily double.'
It was with great sadness but with a sense of inevitability that the famous Athletic Park ground in Wellington, New Zealand was pulled down in 2000. For over 100 years it had been known as the ‘Home of Rugby in New Zealand’.
Situated in the base of a high-sided valley running down to Cook Strait, Athletic Park was always in an exposed position, and was battered many times over the years by ferocious Wellington winds. The salty spray contributed to decay in the metallic stability of the double-tiered Millard Stand and after much local angst a decision was made to abandon the site for rugby and move to a new stadium in the city area of Wellington.
While there were many famous days on the superb playing surface, for both Wellington and All Black rugby, it is for its most infamous bad weather days that many remember Athletic Park most fondly.
The worst came in 1961 when the Wellington Rugby Union’s new pride and joy – the Millard Stand – was being ofﬁcially opened on the day of the France v New Zealand match. The southerly storm that weekend brought in winds gusting up to 80 mph (140 km/h) – one of the worst days in Wellington’s history. A large luxury liner, the Canberra, was so buffeted in Cook Strait that the ship could not enter the harbour, just a few miles away. Yet in this tempest a test match was played!
New Zealand won 5–3, with Don Clarke, the All Black fullback, kicking a sideline conversion that travelled across the wind in a crazy curving arc.
Athletic Park has also had its moments in the mud, no more so than in 1977 when the British Lions played the New Zealand Juniors. Not a single player from either side could be recognised at the end of the game.
But Athletic Park could be as effective a playing location as anywhere in the world and on its many top days, presented a ﬂat true ground and seating for the fans that was always close to the action. The record attendance was the 57,000 who crammed in to watch the second test between New Zealand and the British Isles in 1959.
New Zealand played its ﬁrst home test match at Athletic Park, against Great Britain in 1904. In the 1980s the All Blacks scored some handsome wins on the ground, including 42–15 v England in 1985, 46–15 v Argentina in the World Cup in 1987, and 49–12 v Argentina in 1989. In 1992 New Zealand beat a strong World XV 54–26 and in 1997 they posted the highest test score on the ground, beating Argentina by 93-8.
In its last years it became obvious that the facilities which are needed to service a modern rugby match were not all present at Athletic Park. It had very poor players’ changing rooms; there was one shabby function room and no permanent corporate boxes. And though there were some fierce debates about the ground’s future, the advantages of a new stadium in the city were overwhelming. The last test match was played on June 1999. Fittingly the All Blacks gave the old ground a great send off, beating France 54-7.
How many test matches did Alan Whetton play for the All Blacks? 34,35 or 36?