365 days of gratitude


An evening of rugby under cover at Forsyth Barr Stadium, catching up with friends, meeting some new people, having fun, a fast-paced exciting game, a win to the All Black and a safe trip home, for all of which I’m grateful.

20 – 15, phew!


All Blacks 20 – England 15 is far too close for comfort when it’s supposedly a second-string English team.

Mr Brown’s boys


The Otago rugby team  and the Ranfurly shield they won were welcomed back to Dunedin last week by a crowd of 1000 and a banner reading: “Welcome Home, Mr Brown’s Boys”.

The province has celebrated but coach Tony Brown and the team have been focussed on something more important than celebrating the win – retaining the shield.

. . . There is no point giving up the trophy in week one after having waited more than 20,000 days to have it. The first week has been a great ride and no-one wants to jump off so quickly. . .

Forsyth Barr Stadium has been renamed Tony Brown’s place for the occasion.

We were at Carisbrook when it was dubbed Tony Brown’s place for a Super 12 final in 1999.

Unfortunately the Highlanders weren’t able to beat the Crusaders that day.

All my fingers and toes are crossed that the party at Tony Brown’s place this afternoon when Otago defends the shield against the Hawkes Bay Magpies, has a much happier outcome.

Go Otaaaago!


Alwyn and I have a bottle of Otago or Hawkes Bay wine of the winner’s choice on the results. I’m happy to accept the same wager from others who doubt Otago.

At last


It hasn’t been an easy season for Highlanders’ fans but at last they’ve won a game:

Highlanders 25 – Sharks 22.


Hugs vs haka


A former Puma player is urging the team’s supporters to take part in a group hug when the All Blacks do the haka tomorrow.

Un ex Puma cantará el himno, se promueve un abrazo para contrarrestar el Haka y habrá camisetas para alentar valores. Propuestas solidarias en el gran duelo del sábado. . . 

“En el Estadio Unico, va a pasar algo único”, dicen. Ese es precisamente el lema de “Abrazo de Puma”, una iniciativa que tiene como objetivo alentar al equipo argentino en la previa al trascendental choque con los All Blacks, en el que intentarán obtener un triunfo histórico ya que nunca le pudieron ganar en los 19 tests matches disputados desde el primer enfrentamiento en 1976. . . .

La idea que apuntala a esta novedosa propuesta es abrazarse “con el de al lado”, replicando en las tribunas lo que harán los jugadores argentinos en el centro de la cancha, en el preciso momento en que los rugbiers neocelandeses -liderados por el medio scrum Piri Weepu- inicien con su cuerpo los movimientos intimidatorios para dar significado y fuerza a la tradicional ceremonia y danza tribal que representa el Haka, una expresión cabal de la pasión, el vigor y la identidad de la raza Maorí. . .

This (loosely) translates as:

A former Puma is promoting a hug to counter the haka as a proposal for solidarity in Saturday’s big match. . .

“In the United State something unique will happen,” they say. That’s the idea of “Puma Embrace”, an initiative which aims to encourage the Argentine team in the pre-mtach of the momentous clash with the All Blacks, in which which they try to get an historic triumph as they have never been able to win in the 19 tests matches played since the first meeting in 1976. . . .

The idea that underpins this new proposal is to embrace “the one beside”, replicating in the stands what the Argentine players will be doing in the centre of the field, at the precise moment when the rugby players-led by New Zealand scrum half Piri Weepu starts his body movements and intimidating strength to give significance and strength to the traditional ceremony and tribal dance representing the Haka, an expression full of passion, vigour and identity of the Maori race. . .

A haka versus a group hug – that will be an interesting match.

You can see more at Abrazo de Puma.

Would asking for three wins be greedy?


I’ve never watched a rugby league game and know very little about the sport.

But I admire the enthusiasm of the Warrior’s fans and have been enjoying the excitement as they contemplate tonight’s NRL final against Manly’s Sea Eagles.

I wish the Warriors well for the game and hope they win.

However, if the sporting gods decide we can’t have both the league trophy and the Rugby World Cup, there’s no doubt in my mind which would be better.

Tonight’s NRL final is a big game and a win would be wonderful, but there’ll be another final next year.

This evening’s All Black match against Canada is no match for the NRL final, but the one or ones which follow will be more important because there won’t be another World Cup for four years.

That said, the Silver Ferns play England in a netball test tomorrow and Thursday and have three tests against Australia later in the month.

Would asking for all three teams to win be greedy?


With so much expertise involved with high level sport, should we sorry that ultra fit sportsmen damage themselves in training?



Why do I bother when I know I know nothing about rugby history? Just 3/10 in the Herald’s All Black-France rugby quiz. All were guesses.

Saturday’s smiles


A rugby referee died and went to heaven. Stopped by St Peter at the gates he was told that only brave people who had performed heroic deeds and had the courage of their convictions could enter. If the ref could describe a situation in his life where he had shown these characteristics, he would be allowed in.

“Well,” said the ref, “I was reffing a match between the All Blacks and Wallabies. The ABs were 2 points ahead and just a minute to go. The Wallabies’ wing made a break, passed inside to his lock. The lock was driven on by his forwards, passed out to the flanker who ducked blind and went over in the corner. He dropped the ball before he could ground it, but the hooker grounded it. As the Wallabies were clearly the better side all game, I ruled that the flanker had dropped the ball down, not forward, and awarded the try.”

“OK, that was fairly brave of you, but I will have to check it in the book.” says Peter, and disappears to look it up. When he comes back he says “Sorry, there is no record of this. Can you help me to trace it? When did all this happen?”

The ref looked at his watch and replied “45 seconds ago.”

Final, final farewell to Carisbrook


We were at what was supposed to be the final test at Carisbrook when the – All Blacks played Wales last year.

However, Christchurch’s earthquake mounted munted Jade Stadium which gave the ‘Brook a final, final test against Fiji last month.

Rfdunedin reminded me the final inter-provincial between southern rivals, Otago and Southland will be played there today and his memories of its past brought back some of mine.

My first visits were when I was a student, standing on the terrace.

It would have been a couple of decades before I went back in the early days of the Highlanders when it was stacked full of All Blacks – Taine Randell, Jeff Matheson, Tony Brown, Marc Ellis, Josh Kronfeld . . .

There were other rugby tests and some cricket matches too.

But the highlight was watching Otago win the NPC. I think that was John Leslie’s last game for Otago and he was given the ball for the last play of the game which was a kick for a penalty.

A stadium doesn’t make a team but here’s hoping the new Forsyth Barr one creates even more good memories.

For far more informed and detailed memories, Brent Edwards recorded his for the ODT last year.

Blue & Gold with Red & Black


Matches in any sport between teams from the right side of the Waitaki and Mainlanders from the other side are different.

It’s a bit like family. We’ll support each other against anyone else but the rivalry when it’s one of us playing the other is extra keen.

The good start the Highlanders have made to the season and the Christchurch earthquake have ensured a good crowd at Carisbrook when they meet the Crusaders tonight.

I won’t go so far as to say I’ll be cheering for the red and black team, my heart will as always be with the blue and golds. But tonight more than any other time I’ve watched a team from my side of the Waitaki against another, I really won’t mind which one wins.

Tonight it’s not blue and gold against but with red and black.

39 – 18 to North Otago


The sun shone in North Otago yesterday and so did the rugby team – winning the Meads Cup by beating W(h)anganui 39 -18.

No pressure


Southland started the rugby season with the Ranfurly Shield but now it’s moved north – though thankfully not off the Mainland.

Otago hit rock bottom.

Today North Otago has the opportunity to bring a little rugby pride back to the right side of the Waitaki River when the Old Golds play W(h)anganui in the final game for the Meads Cup.

No pressure, boys, but all fingers and toes are crossed (and they’ll need to be if Keeping Stock’s assessment is correct).

North Otago won – now it’s Southland’s turn


North Otago leads the Heartland rugby race for the Meads Cup after a 21-16 win against W(h)anganui in Oamaru this afternoon.

Pleased as I am about that, I won’t be celebrating until the end of the Ranfurly Shield challenge tonight.

I’d back Canterbury against any team from the north but my first allegiance is with teams from the right side of the Waitaki River so I’m hoping Southland holds tight to the shield tonight.

UPDATE: 26-16. Ah well, at least the shield is still on the Mainland.

NZ’s 4th consecutive World Cup


The Black Ferns’ fourth consecutive win in the women’s rugby World Cup makes them one of New Zealand’s most successful sporting teams.

Just wondering why if this is called the women’s rugby world cup the other one isn’t called the men’s rugby World Cup?

Saturday smiles


Apropos of tonight’s game:

A rugby referee died and went to heaven.

Stopped by St Peter at the gates he was told that only brave people who had performed heroic deeds and had the courage of their convictions could enter.

If he could describe a situation in his life where he had shown these characteristics, he would be allowed in.

“Well,” said the ref, “I was controlling a Bledisloe Cup game between the All Blacks and  Wallabies in Christchurch.

“New Zealand was four points ahead with a minute to go. James O’Connor made a break, passed to Drew Mitchell. Mitchell was driven on by his forwards, before he passed out to Kurtley Beale who passed back to Rocky Elsom who went over in the corner.

“But it was a cold evening, the ball was slippery and Elsom fumbled as he went down. It was a 50/50 call on whether he’d grounded it. As Australia was clearly the better side all game, I ruled that he had got it down and awarded the try.”

“Ok, that was fairly brave of you, but I will have to check it in the book,” said Peter, before disappearing to look it up.

When he came back he said: “Sorry, there’s no record of this. Can you help me to trace it? When did all this happen?”

The ref looked at his watch and replied: “Forty-five seconds ago.”

North Otago vs Southland


North Otago’s experience with Ranfurly Shield challenges is not a happy one.

The Oamaru Mail records:

1938  lost to Otago 12-0; 1946 lost to Southland `5-3; 1947 lost to Otago 42 -3; 1971 lost to Canterbury 14-0; 1973 lost to Malborough 26 -9; 1974 lost to South Canterbury 9-3; 1983 lost to Canterbury 88-0; 1993 lost to Auckland 139 -5; 2000 lost to Waikato 95-17; 2003 lost to Canterbury 85-24; 2008 lost to Auckland 113 -3.

Even the most ardent North Otago fans aren’t expecting miracles when the team meets Southland at Rugby Park tonight but they are expecting fun.

One of our staff manages the North Otago team and presented one of our Southland staff with a North Otago jacket when he was up here on Wednesday. The Southlander has promised to wear it, though he’ll also be wearing his Stags’ hat and scarf.

The whole Southland province has embraced its shield win with enthusiasm and there’s a sell-out crowd for tonight’s game. Regardless of the result, rugby may really be the winner.

UPDATE: The ODt interviews Doug Grant who played for North Otago in the 1971 shield challenge against a Canterbury team fielding 11 All Blacks with another in the reserves.

Booing boors


The boors/bores who boo when the team they don’t support are taking kicks for penalties or conversions are unsporting and as irritating as the vuvuzelas.

If the All Blacks vs Wales doesn’t appeal Adam Smith is offering Saturday rock for those who prefer rock to rubgy. The show starts here.

The last test


The first game I can remember watching at Carisbrrok was a match between Otago and the Lions.

It would have been 1975ish, in the days when touring teams toured the provinces.

I can’t remember the score though I suspect we lost. It wasn’t the only Otago loss I’ve watched but I also saw some wins, most notably the day the team captained by Taine Randall won the NPC final.

We used to go down to Dunedin regularly for NPC games and in the early days of the Super 12 but in recent years we’ve had other priorities.

But we went down again for Carisbrook’s 37th and final rugby test match last night.

The city was buzzing and turned on a glroious day – blue sky, sunshine and almost no wind. The mild temperature would have been welcomed by the teams playing nude rugby in the afternoon.

As part of the pre-test entertainment, Colin Meads and Otago’s favourite sons Josh Kronfeld and Jeff Wilson told us there favourite memories of the ground.

Deborah Wai Kapohe and Judd Arthur sang the national anthems – powerfully.

Wales scored first and second, then the All Blacks found their feet.

After the final whistle, with the score at 42 -9, the City of Dunedin Pipe Band marched on to the ground to play Auld Lang Syne, Jeff Wilson dug out a piece of turf to be taken to the new Forsyth Barr Stadium and the celebration finished with a fireworks display.

The ODT editorialises in tribute to Carisbrook here.

Jim Mora chatted to Ian Galloway and Ron Polenski about Carisbrook here.

UPDATE: Keeping Stock pays tribute too.

Confession of a fair weather fan


I’ve barely glanced at a rugby game all year.

I still didn’t watch the All Balcks vs France test properly.

But my farmer was watching it so I was aware of what was happening in the background.

And now they’re not just winning but winning well ( 39 -12 with three mintues to go), I’m interested.

Were those the days?


The ball was leather, the goal posts were freshly felled trees, the shorts were longer and the referee, Bruce Rowland,  wore street clothes:

It was rugby as it used to be, played under 1905 rules in uniforms of the era as part of Oamaru’s Victorian Heritage celebrations.

It attracted a large crowd of spectators and St John ambulance volunteers were on hand to deal with the injured:

The referee summoned the police, who were also attired in Victorian uniforms, to deal with an unruly player but behaviour on and off the field was generally seemly.

Some of the players were more oldie than golden but anything they lacked in youth was more than compensated for by enthusiasm.

The ODT’ reported: long on shorts and short on breath.

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