Mod­ern game shines via 45-year flashback

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT -

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 days. 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 run­ning clock. A real clock would ap­pear on screen ev­ery 10 min­utes with the minute hand in­di­cat­ing how much time had elapsed.

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 welldrained fields.

There were no tees for the place­kick­ers.

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 half­back had the ball. None of to­day’s ‘‘Crouch-touch-pause-en­gage’’.

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 em­bank­ment.

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 than now. 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, big­ger, 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 the earth.

But let’s be clear. The All Blacks who will soon at­tempt to break the mould by win­ning the Rugby World Cup would have smashed those fa­mous 1960s teams by 70 points.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.