Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
28 November 2014
It is always very sad when a man who once thrilled New Zealand with his youthful rugby zeal and became an All Black, then reaches his senior years - and then passes away. This week we say RIP to Peter 'Sammy' Henderson. Read more »
22 July 2014
I felt really sad when I heard of the death of Kevin Skinner. He was such a genial man in his later years until his health started to fade. At the Barbarians Club at Eden Park in Auckland he was always a friendly face, chatting away. And invariably gently chiding anyone who tried to push onto him the reputation many New Zealand rugby followers had that he was forever and only a rugby thug. He was not that at all. I prefer to call him a vital man who was very much needed by his country in some most critical rugby years. Read more »
The first All Black tour of South Africa is squared.
With South Africa leading the 4-match test series 2-1, NZ had to win this game in Cape Town. They did by 13-5.
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 New Zealand Tennis Sponsor's representative always included two of his 'own' invented words in his speeches at the Heineken Open prize givings in the 2000s - and what were the words?