Home' The Wellingtonian : July 7th 2011 Contents 23
THE WELLINGTONIAN, JULY 7, 2011
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Rugby the way it used to be
When men were men: Colin Meads leads an All Black charge against the Lions in 1966.
Flying from Wellington to Auckland
the other day, I was surprised to find
an individual screen in front of me
and a variety of movies, television shows
and other programmes on offer.
I opted for Rugby'' and chose the 1966
All Blacks v Lions test at Eden Park.
The catch was that no headphones were
provided, so it was like watching a silent
broadcast. Nevertheless it was most
enlightening, and certainly made me
appreciate how entertaining rugby is these
These points struck me:
The broadcast was in black and white.
With no sound, I felt like I was watching
Dave Gallaher's 1905 Originals.
It seemed only two cameras were used,
one in the grandstand, the other on the
sideline for the close-up action.
There were no replays, and also no run-
ning clock. A real clock would appear on
screen every 10 minutes with the minute
hand indicating how much time had
Players could kick into touch on the full
from anywhere, so -- tediously -- there was
a lot of that.
The players' gear was muddy within five
minutes, even though it was a fine day.
What a contrast to today's well-drained
There were no tees for the place-kickers.
The lineouts were a shambles, with no
space between opposing forwards and a lot
of elbows action. Jumpers hardly got off the
ground. A dockyard brawl.
When a scrum was whistled, opposing
forwards packed down immediately and
began shoving, often even before the half-
back had the ball. None of today's Crouch-
Goal-kickers used the toe rather than the
instep and were inconsistent.
Players, even those I'd once considered
giants, such as Colin Meads and Ken Gray,
didn't look big. The backs were tiny.
Most spectators at Eden Park were on the
There were only limited sponsorship signs
and none on players' jerseys.
There was no haka.
The only person from the sideline who
ventured on the field was the first aid man.
Team officials stayed well away.
Wingers threw the ball into lineouts.
Players' boots looked extremely heavy.
The All Blacks had two Maori players,
first-five Mac Herewini and flanker Waka
Nathan, and no Pacific Islanders.
Players resumed the game much quicker
There was only three points for a try.
The referee (Pat Murphy) seemed to have
very little to say.
The All Blacks won 24-11, but the Lions
played more attractive rugby.
Some All Blacks, notably Meads, Kel
Tremain, Gray, halfback Chris Laidlaw and
Herewini looked really good, while midfield
back Mike Gibson and lock Willie John
McBride shone for the Lions.
Generally, however, there were far more
errors, which emphasised what a difference
professionalism has made.
Players today are much fitter, faster, big-
ger, stronger and, especially the forwards,
more skilful. We hear older rugby followers
talk wistfully of the days of Meads and
Tremain, Lochore and Gray -- the days
when men were men and dinosaurs roamed
But let's be clear. The All Blacks who will
soon attempt to break the mould by win-
ning the Rugby World Cup would have
smashed those famous 1960s teams by 70
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