Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
8 May 2015
It was with a particular sadness that I visited the last resting place of the Ponsonby Club's All Black hooker from 1913 and 1914, George Sellars.
George was a top bloke, his family and friends all said, and no one would have been surprised that he died assisting a colleague on 7 June 1917. A part-Maori George was on the slopes of Messines Ridge in only his fifth day on the battlefield. It was typical that he saw a wounded colleague and rushed to help him. But a shell exploded near them both, so close that, to speak directly, George and his mate were blown to bits.
So it is with a particular sense of irony that when one goes to pay tribute to some fallen footballers of WWI, a number of them are only represented by a name carved, albeit in honour, on a marble wall. Sad but true in the case of Private George Maurice Victor Sellars.
The photo was taken at the Messines Ridge Memorial.
Coach Gordon Tietjens and injured captain Eric Rush led the team in Mar del Plata, Argentina. NZ beat Australia 31-12 in the final.
Dax and France
32 internationals for France 1969–78
Jean-Pierre Bastiat was first capped as a lock against Romania in 1969. Although he played his first 10 internationals as a second-rower, it was as a No. 8 that he made his formidable reputation as a hard man of French forward play in his time.
The 2 metres (6ft 6in) tall Bastiat was part of a thrilling French loose forward trio, with Jean-Pierre Rives and Jean-Claude Skrela. He could run as well, and was also the French goal-kicker in several games. Although injuries and unavailability disrupted his career, Bastiat became one of the most feared forwards of his day.
He was appointed the French captain in 1977–78, his last season. Under his leadership France won its first three championship games; so did Wales. When the two teams met at Cardiff Arms Park the Grand Slam was at stake. Sadly for Bastiat and France, Wales was too good and won 16–7.
In later years Bastiat became a French selector and in 2002 was still involved with the selection and coaching of the national team.
Dr Danie Craven is often called 'The Father of South African Rugby' - what was he a doctor of?