Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
7 December 2014
Isn't it amazing what you sometimes find in a box of old 'stuff' at your place. This is one such piece of rugby memorabilia.
In amongst a box of old clippings and papers I found the programme of a 1973 rugby day which Australia would prefer to forever forget but Tonga will always shout to the heavens over!
That year Tonga celebrated having completed 50 years of organised rugby in the 'Friendly Islands.' To celebrate there was a tour to Nuku'alofa by a 'International Invitational' team, there was also a tour by the New Zealand Maori team and Tonga's test team flew out on a two-month tour of Australia and Fiji.
Wow! What a year!
There was a mix of results for the Tongans; they shared a win each against the Invitation team (Which was curiously 'co-captained' by 37 year old Colin Meads and 44-year old Uaisele Latukefu); Tonga beat the New Zealand Maori team by 11-3 in the only test match and Tonga were then well beaten by the Wallabies in the first test in Sydney by 30-14.
But instead of fading meekly ahead of the second test the Tongans ran out onto Ballymore in Brisbane and were all fired up. They scored a superb 4 tries-to 2 victory by 16-11. Australian rugby was stunned. The result hastened the end of several test careers while some others quietly decided to accpet invitations to join professional rugby league.
Apparently the score would have been much more if the touring team's goal kicking had have been better.
[It was considered then - and still is - Tonga's greatest test victory. (Right up until their Rugby World Cup win over France in Wellington in 2011]
By all accounts the Tongans were very popular in Australia. One writer wrote warmly about their off-field appearance at social functions; 'with their crimson blazers, shell necklaces and cream sarongs, with taovala belts showing their rank in Tongan society.'
That was nice, although to call one of the players a 'golliwog halfback' the same writer's words would not not have gone down so well these days!
The great Colin Meads plays his last game for his country on this day.
His career as an All Black had lasted 15 seasons inclusive 1957-71. It ended leading NZ to a 14-14 draw again the British and Irish Lions at Eden Park.
Western Province and South Africa
8 internationals for South Africa 1955–58
A hard-nosed loose forward, Dawie Ackermann, described by one South African writer as ‘symmetrically built’, was at his very best as a ﬂanker in the three tests he played against the 1955 British Lions team and in two tests against the All Blacks in 1956. After being part of the Springbok team which surprisingly lost to the French XV in 1958, he was no longer required by the South African selectors.
In his frustration Dawie Ackermann turned to the ﬂedgling sport of rugby league and he is remembered as the captain of South Africa’s ﬁrst (and only) touring league team in 1963. The tour to Australia and New Zealand was not a success (even though the South Africans beat New Zealand) and Ackermann and league did not re-surface in South Africa.
What is the difference in years between Joe Stanley playing his last test for New Zealand, and Jeremy Stanley being picked to become an All Black and emulate his father’s success?