Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
25 November 2017
From time to time there are those rugby fans who nostalgically reflect on their time in the game; and they do it by the magic of poetry. You will find some memorable efforts on this website. This latest one comes from James Simpson of New Zealand who clearly remembers with enormous affection his days of playing in the hooking position - and his enormous respect for others who did so too.
The Ace In The Pack
He hangs between two henchmen all Cauliflower ears,
Knuckles and boots their stock-in-trade
Their most sociable act is sculling their beers
No lovers of high debate
For free thought is something found in the North
No need for it way down here
Our traditions and rituals rule the way we go forth
We act without fancy or fear
No video ref nor rulings from touch
We fix faults off our own bat
Our answer to those who doth protesteth too much
Is to 'Take that and that and that.'
Some say a fine mind marks a man out
For life as a great physician
But a fine mind will only cause doubt
When playing the hookers position
Diagnostic skills the pundits go on
Are traits more fitting a back
But those in the know in the front row club
Say such powers are much prized in the pack
Tho’ strong arms and thick skulls when put to the test
Are assets that front rowers like
And tho’ he had them as well we’ll remember him best
For the snakelike speed of his strike
And we’ll also remember in years to come
Like Anzacs from warfare and strife
The attitudes forged in the heat of the scrum
Will last you the rest of your life.
Wellington, New Zealand
It was tough times for the ABs at the Rugby World Cup in Cardiff. The alleged 'forward' pass by a Frenchman led to a try - and New Zealand headed homewards.
A Maori challenge, or war dance, which is traditionally performed by New Zealand rugby teams before their test matches. Vigorous, aggressive and intimidating, the haka was a ritual dance performed as much to fire up its proponents as to strike terror into the hearts of the enemy. In the rugby context, the haka issues to the opposition the challenge to play hard and well.
The first New Zealand team to perform the haka was the 1905–06 team in Britain. The 1928 All Black team in South Africa did the haka and the South Africans replied with a war chant of their own, being made up on the morning of the game!
New Zealanders know that when All Black teams are made up only of Pakeha players (Europeans), the haka is never performed with the vigour and feeling exhibited by Maori players.
Originally the haka was only performed by New Zealand teams when they were playing away from home, but when Scotland toured New Zealand in 1975 and later during the World Cup games in 1987, the haka was from then on always seen within New Zealand too. It is enormously popular in all the countries visited by New Zealand teams.
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?