Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
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'The greatest thing that can happen to the state of Queensland and the nation of Australia would be if and when we get rid of the media. Then we would live in peace and tranquility - but no one would know anything!.'
From the Scottish rugby star of the 1920s; 'It doesn't matter in any game of rugby how many points the opposition scores, as long as we score more!'
'Young men have visions, old men have dreams.'
'Scientists now say there are two things you can see from outer space; the Great Wall of China and the holes in the Scottish rugby team's backline defence.'
When rugby teams still gather in a huddle at halfway after they have run onto the field usually someone in the team can be seen talking away. But really, once you're on the field there's actually nothing left to say. You just have to get on with it!"
When the new young golf star Jordan Spieth, in the 2014 Masters Golf tournament, had played fearlessly throughout, showing no nerves, Weekley said; "That kid ain't got no bills to pay, he ain't got no kids; When you're that young to him it's only all about the sport he's playing. You don't have to worry about nuthin' else!"
Seen regularly on Japanese supporters shirts in Australia during the 1987 Rugby World Cup; 'If you ain't got no guts, you don't get no glory!'
From the renowned American gonzo journalist Hunter S.Thompson: "Sportswriters are a rude and brainless subculture of fascist drunks,'
'The (bronze) medal I won is fine, but it is only a souvenir. It's what you learn from the Olympics that is most important.'
"It's 45 minutes after the game right now and I still don't want to take this jersey off. That's because I know that when I do it'll be for the last time..."
Brian O'Driscoll, the Irish and British Lions centre three-quarter - reacting philosophically for the media after his 140th, and last, game of international rugby, in Paris 16th March 2014.
(Before his 1984 Wallaby team played their last international heading towards winning a Grand Slam in Great Britain): 'In life there are four things which don't come back; a speeding arrow, the spoken word, time, and a neglected opportunity.'
'Of the five most useless things there are in the world; three of them would be the cheers we do for the ref at the end of any game!'
Spoken with his strong north of England accent; 'On the field you gives it, you takes it, and yer doon't fookin' groomble!'
When speaking about his time as an international rugby player: 'In my country (Belgium), if you sit beside the phone long enough, it will ring and you will be invited to play rugby for Belgium!'
'Time is of the essence,
The crowd and players
Are the same age always,
But the man in the stand,
Is older every season.'
And three new All Black caps; Connor, Wolfe and McKay conjure up a try in the very first minute in the first test at Auckland!
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.
If there were a New Zealand rugby NPC State-of-Origin contest, which province would Grant Fox play for?