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.
Epic early words in the game uttered by Springbok captain Phillip Nel to the referee at Eden Park as South Africa win the test series by thrashing NZ by 5 tries to 0 (17-6).
Leicester, Harlequins and England
31 internationals for England 1920–27
William Wavell Wakefield was a highly successful player, thinker, innovator and captain. He became one of the world game’s best administrators, becoming an England committeeman before rising to be president of the Rugby Football Union in 1950. He served as a delegate on the International Rugby Board for the seven years up until 1961 and wrote extensively about the game, in his later years becoming a symbol of wise counsel for amateur rugby and its future.
The young Wavell Wakefield was a supremely fit rugby player, winning his 31 international caps as a flanker, lock or No. 8. He first played for England in 1920, when a strong Welsh side thrashed him and 10 other new caps. The selectors persevered with many of the new players, and out of their rising confidence came one of England’s best eras.
The England team, with Wakefield, the brilliant halfbacks ‘Dave’ Davies and Cyril Kershaw, Cyril Lowe the wing, and forwards Tom Voyce and Ronald Cove-Smith, combined to win the Five Nations crown three times in the first four years of the 1920s.
Wakefield played his first 21 internationals consecutively, winning 17 times with one draw. By 1927, when he was hampered by injuries, the highly popular and respected ‘Wakers’ had reached 31 caps – an England record for any position and one that stood until 1969, when it was passed by D.P. ‘Budge’ Rogers.
Wakefield is often remembered as one of England’s best captains and tactical planners. As captain of Cambridge University and England, he insisted on each member of the forward pack undertaking set roles, rather than plodding together from set piece to set piece, as had been the style.
Under his leadership, England’s back row combinations became the first in the world to work together as a ‘team’, which is commonplace in modern times. Certainly he was highly successful. In his seven seasons in the England team he took part in three championship wins, three Triple Crowns and three Grand Slams. It is a tribute to him that those years came to be known in English rugby as the ‘Wakefield Era’.
After his active rugby days he was a Member of Parliament and then became the first Baron Wakefield of Kendal. He died in 1983.
Which former Springbok test rugby captain won a Rugby World Cup winner's medal for Australia in 1999?