Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
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Some wisdom here from one of Australia's great mythical 'sporting' characters; 'The truth is deafening, no matter how softly it is spoken.'
'Rugby is a nonsense, but a very serious nonsense.'
His simple philosophy for sporting success; 'Winning Starts on Monday.'
On the eve of Pontypool v New Zealand in 1989, i jotted down the simple philosophy of how Pontypool coach John Perkins wanted his team to mentally approach their big upcoming game; 'Boys, you've to live it, eat it, sleep it and shit it if you want to win!'
"Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.' (from the film 'Bull Durham')
'...to win by one is enough.'
'Always avoid prophesying on things beforehand; it's a much better policy to prophesy after the event has taken place.'
'If winning isn't everything why bother to keep the score?'
'As your reputation gets bigger, the gaps and chances to go through them get smaller.'
'A rugby tour is like sex. When its good it's great, and when it's bad - hey! It's still pretty good!'
'I'd rather spend half an hour in the company of a top carpenter, than three hours in the company of an average brain surgeon'
...when thinking about retirement; 'When your eyes go, and your legs go, and your fans go; then it's time for you to go too.'
'Often when a team is at the bottom, there's something wrong at the top.'
'In Ireland the inevitable never happens but the unexpected constantly does.'
Talking about the 1988 World Cup rugby league final on Eden Park in Auckland; 'When the Kiwis ran onto the field we could see the poor bastards were shitting themselves.' Sydney Morning Herald 24 November 1992.
A 48 test veteran Jerry Collins tragically died in a car crash in Southern France aged only 34.
If there has been a problem for Aborigines in Australian rugby history, it mirrors attitudes by the Australian public in general. There was an early typecasting of the race as non-achievers in life as in sport. But in rugby the Aborigines have produced a number of champion players.
The most famous were the Ella brothers, Mark, Glen and Gary, who showed the world a brilliantly instinctive degree of understanding of each other on the field of play. Their fame was worldwide in rugby. All were test players around the same time, though they never all played in the same test match.
Mark Ella was one of the First Fifteen of players inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame in London in 1997. He is remembered as one of the glittering stars of Australian rugby. The other two from the family, Glen and Gary, were thrilling backline runners too, and all later became much respected coaches.
It is thought that the first Aborigine player to be capped for Australia was Jack ‘Blondie’ Howard in 1938. His teammates at the time were not all sure of his racial background and Howard apparently was never keen on discussing it. Alongside Howard in the tests of 1938 was Cecil Ramalli,who was part-Indian and part-Aborigine. It is said that Ramali, too, never revealed his Aboriginality. He preferred to be known as part-Indian.
Eventually Aborigine players emerged who were happy to declare their race. Lloyd McDermott of Queensland was a pacy winger who played tests against the All Blacks in 1962.
In the years after the Ella brothers came Lloyd Walker, Barry Lea, Andrew Walker and Jim Williams, all of whom were Wallabies. After originally being a centre, Williams was the first forward of Aborigine descent to play test football.
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?