Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
10 June 2015
My story on the late Jerry Collins having to front for a TV interview straight after an All Blacks World Cup defeat in 2003 has been picked up and run on the New Zealand Herald. As a result of that the All Blacks media manager from that New Zealand team has sent his version of events. I thank Matt McIlraith and publish his comments.
"As the All Black media manager of the time as referred to by Keith, I remember the said incident well.
"There had been huge issues through that RWC about the All Black coach refusing to do the immediate post-game TV interviews but it wasn't within the existing tournament rules of the time, so he was within his rights to refuse, albeit as unwise as this course of action was.
"The rule was changed after 2003. In this instance, when John refused, Jerry, who was in ear shot of his rather terse reply within the dressing room, jumped up and said he would do it.
"A number of the players did this throughout that year when the head coach refused to do things, this was certainly not the only time, but it did reflect well on the leadership skills Jerry already had, and the fact that he cared, while perhaps reflecting less well on the head coach, although each individual will draw their own opinion on that.
"As Keith recalled, John did front the formal post game press conference. The women Keith referred to that Jerry went and saw after were his mother and another family member (I think his sister), whom had religiously waited for him outside after each of the games at that tournament.
Arguably he was the slowest back on the field but nothing could stop the flying Mortlock; his try that greatly assisted the Aussies in their 22-10 sensational dispatch of the All Blacks.
Wellington, New Zealand
15 internationals for N. Zealand 1972–77
The Scottish TV commentator Bill McLaren best described this busy and talented All Black. He said that Batty went at his game like a ‘little buzz-saw’, and indeed he did.
Grant Batty was a rarity in All Black rugby of the early 1970s. He was a back (a wing mostly) who had genuine speed, aggression and inventiveness. Although small in stature, he was never one to step back from a physical confrontation, no matter how imposing his opponent might have been. Not everyone in New Zealand could cope with a player of his brilliance and physical approach, and although New Zealanders were more than grateful on several occasions for his feisty presence on the field, he was always regarded as controversial.
Batty was received in a similar light wherever he played in the rugby world. Cardiff crowds booed him when he played there with the All Blacks in 1972–73. He replied by playing brilliantly. South African crowds treated him the same way. Batty responded by showing immense courage and playing on even after sustaining a near-crippling knee injury. Such was his value to the All Blacks that they insisted on playing him in the tests even though he had to run about with a metal cast hidden under his knee bandages.
Sadly, Batty’s knee problems became so bad he was forced out of rugby at the age of 25.
Controversial he might have been, but the crowds in New Zealand and elsewhere always flocked in to watch Batty.
He later shifted to Australia and by the 1990s had begun a long-term association on the coaching staff of the Queensland Reds team and other club sides.
Who played in the 1987 Rugby World Cup Final wearing a hair-piece?