Last of ‘50 Ranfurly side dies

South Canterbury Herald - - MOTORING - STU PID­DING­TON

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.

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