Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
21 November 2014
NOVEMBER 21 2014
To this point in our tour we've had many wonderful moments, either in seeing the sights of UK and France or loving watching a winning All Blacks team in action. But the whole tour has always seemed to be heading for Wales! Whatever England, Scotland or indeed France have thrown at our tour groups, in terms of things to see and experiences to have - most of us on board the tour coaches have mostly been in a Welsh state of mind.
It's just that there are so many stories to tell and so many slices of All Black rugby history tangled up in our association with the Welsh rugby story. So today was our travelling day to find out what it is like in 2014.
To be sure it was not a good start. The weather as we left the gorgeous Ellenborough Park hotel suddenly turned atrocious and it offered us a soggy welcome into the Principality.
But on the other hand what was most welcoming was our trip tonight high up into the Valleys to the village of Bedlinog where the locals came out in force to offer us a truly typical Welsh rugby welcome. The supper was grand, the beer flowed and this little club's membership made all 70 of us feel very welcome indeed. And when the Treharris Males Voice Choir began their act with typical Welsh songs and humopur we KNEW we were in the land of rugby.
On a personal note the night was capped by finding a jersey from my New Zealand club; the Wellington Football Club from New Zealand's capital city, in a frame on the wall of the clubhouse. As this week I have been elected the President of that very club (we are 'The Axemen' of Wellington) I got the camera clicking for a shot to send back to the club's first newsletter of the new season next year.
All in all a wonderful night in Bedlinog - but at the back of our mind, as we sang our way back to the hotel was a gnawing worry about the test match tomorrow.
But whatever happens the anticipation of the game put us all in a high state of readiness;
Roll on the big game tomorrow!
Graham Mourie's touring team was beaten 12-0 by Munster in Limerick; the first win by any Irish team over the All Blacks. And poems, songs, books, films and reunions followed over the years.
Auckland, North Auckland, and New Zealand
2 internationals for New Zealand 1921
Although he played first-class rugby between 1916 and 1928, and in 15 matches for New Zealand 1920–24, Ces Badeley is better known as the man who was briefly the captain of the 1924 All Blacks.
Twenty-three of the players who later were to become the ‘Invincibles’ on their tour of Britain, France and Canada, first made a four-match visit to Sydney. Badeley was the captain, but played only the first match because of a knee injury. Returning to New Zealand, the team, and Badeley, played two further matches, and the captain’s play received wide praise.
Although the New Zealand union had stated the captaincy would be reviewed before the British tour, it was a surprise when, no sooner had Badeley made a speech on behalf of the team at a parliamentary farewell, than Cliff Porter was announced as captain.
In later years, Badeley supposed his knee injury was a reason, but it is possible that a clique of senior players privately decided on Porter during the voyage back from Sydney. Mark Nicholls was said to be a key factor in these deliberations as – like Badeley – he was a five-eighths, and a confident one at that: Nichols apparently was in no doubt he should play all the major matches.
The offhand treatment of Badeley didn’t finish there. He played only two games on the 32-match tour, despite being regularly clearly fit to play. In fact his major activity for the rest of the famous tour was to act sometimes as back coach.
Once the team was well on track for its unbeaten record, Badeley had no chance of playing. The under-utilised young wing, Alan Robilliard, who himself had only four games in Britain and France, has said that the unbeaten record became paramount to the team and it was inevitable the top players would be fielded for most games.
Which well-known sevens rugby coach made this memorable quotation? 'At the Hong Kong sevens bowls and plates are only for eating off - not playing for?'