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4 December 2014
Close your eyes and think of the green lawns of Twickenham, or Eden Park, or Ellis Park - or anywhere in modern times where test rugby is played. You would NEVER see mud like this. All you see these days is serried lines of mown greenery.
But this picture shows the conditions where so many famous rugby games up until perhaps the 1970s or 80s were played in. If it rained regularly grounds became 'heavy' but tour matches still went ahead. Teams learned to play 'wet weather rugby' or 'mud bath rugby.'
This picture was taken at Rugby Park in Whangarei in 1956 when the touring Springboks played North Auckland. The game was a critical one; South Africa had lost to Waikato in their first tour game just four days earlier so having a second loss would have been a disaster for their tour hopes.
South Africa beat the Northerners by just 3-0 in probably the worst conditions ever seen in a major match in New Zealand. The ground is now part of Whangarei Boys High School and is in much better shape these days.
Thank goodness for the advancement in understanding turf culture!
[And who is the injured player in the picture from that far off dramatic day?
Your guess is as good as mine.]
A great day for NZ at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. Sean Fitzpatrick and John Hart's team silence the ghosts with a 33-26 triumph.
LAWTON, TOMMY (JNR)
Queensland, Natal and Australia
41 internationals for Australia 1983–89
A grandson of the father of Queensland rugby, the Tommy Lawton of Australian rugby in the 1980s was a big bustling hooker who became a powerful figure in Australian rugby. With his aggressive play and imposing presence on the field, Tommy Lawton was a first-choice hooker for Australia every year after his international debut against France in Paris in 1982. However, such was the competition for places in his home area he actually played for his country before he played for his state team.
As a hooker Lawton was one of the biggest of his time. He weighed in at 110 kilograms (17 stone) in his best playing years.
Like all hookers, he delighted in scoring tries, scoring one in 1983 on Cardiff Arms Park in the international against Wales, thus emulating the feat achieved by his grandfather in 1927. In 1988 Lawton had a great game against Scotland at Murrayfield, scoring two tries.
Earlier, in 1986 he played for the Rest of the World XV against the British Isles in the International Rugby Board’s centenary series.
On the tour of Canada and France in 1989 Lawson captained the Australians in three midweek matches.
In 1990 Lawton shifted to Durban in South Africa, where he played hooker for Natal in its first Currie Cup win.
His brother Robbie, a prop forward, played four tests for Australia in 1988.
Who played ten tests for the All Blacks - but only in NZ?
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