Last of ‘50 Ranfurly side dies
The last remaining member of the South Canterbury starting lineup from the province’s first Ranfurly Shield victory in 1950 has died.
Halfback Roly Green died in Timaru on Sunday, at the age of 90. He was one of two survivors from the squad, along with reserve Henry Fairbrother, who didn’t get on. At the time, reserves only saw game time due to injury. The pair received their South Canterbury caps in 2013.
The wiry Green played 19 games for the ‘green and blacks’ from 1950 to 1952. South Canterbury Rugby Union (SCRU) chief executive Craig Calder said it was with great sadness the union farewelled the last of the Ranfurly Shield-winning XV.
‘‘Roly was a great Celtic club man and a top South Canterbury representative halfback. ‘‘It is always sad when we lose a former player who proudly represented our province with so much distinction.’’
At the time he received his cap, Green joked that he didn’t remember too much about the Shield challenge, despite being one of the most memorable moments in the province’s history. It was an unexpected, last-minute 17-14 win over Wairarapa in Masterton. When the team returned, thousands turned out on Station St in Timaru to welcome the victorious side home.
The team may have lost the Shield in its first defence, when it lost to North Auckland 20-9 in front of 12,000 fans at Fraser Park but it didn’t matter - history had been made. Green said the shield-winning game went quickly and there was little time for celebration as they had to rush back to Wellington where the inter-island ferry had been held for them.
‘‘It was a big deal, but you have to remember, back then it was only on the radio, so you just slipped back to work.’’
The 1951 Rugby Almanack of New Zealand noted the South Canterbury side had three 1949 All Blacks in the side, the Goddard brothers, Jock and Morrie, and No 8 Lachie Grant.
Green was described as a ‘‘lively halfback’’. SCRU historian Jeremy Sutherland said the teams Green played in were all pretty special.
‘‘If they weren’t some of the best South Canterbury sides, they were pretty close. ‘‘The 1950 side were sometimes inconsistent, but they won the Shield.
‘‘With three All Blacks, two Goddards and a Grant, you couldn’t argue too much. ‘‘From what I’ve read, and been told, Green was a key part of the side as well,’’ Sutherland said.
Roly Green in the green and black jersey.