No re­grets for Haden over dive

The Southland Times - - Sport - Tony Smith

Forty years on, for­mer All Black Andy Haden still sees no rea­son to apol­o­gise for the li­ne­out dive tac­tic that led to a con­tro­ver­sial win over Wales.

The in­ci­dent – on No­vem­ber 11, 1978 – was the All Blacks’ Arms-is­tice Day mo­ment, com­ing as it did at Cardiff Arms Park on the 60th an­niver­sary of the end of World War I.

Haden in­sists the All Blacks’ li­ne­out ruse – cooked up af­ter a train­ing ground con­flab – ‘‘wasn’t cheat­ing’’, but it ran­kled with parochial Welsh fans.

Gra­ham Mourie’s All Blacks were trail­ing Wales 12-10 with time tick­ing away and 47,000 Cardiff cognoscenti dream­ing of Wales’ first vic­tory over the All Blacks in 25 years.

Then, first five-eighth Doug Bruce slammed a rak­ing, cross­field kick into touch in the Welsh 22.

On Wales hooker Bobby Wind­sor’s sec­ond throw, Haden leapt the­atri­cally from the mid­dle of the li­ne­out and fel­low lock Frank Oliver also tum­bled to the turf.

New Zea­land tele­vi­sion com­men­ta­tor Keith Quinn called: ‘‘Penalty is it, yes, Haden was pushed out the li­ne­out’’.

How­ever, English ref­eree Roger Quit­ten­ton al­ways swore he awarded the penalty for a push on Oliver by Welsh lock Ge­off Wheel in the No 3 slot.

‘‘If he said that, that’s fine,’’ Haden told Stuff this week.

‘‘I do think that he felt he couldn’t do much about it, once it hap­pened.’’

Haden told Stuff that Quit­ten­ton prob­a­bly thought at the time that both All Blacks locks had been im­peded.

The tele­vi­sion re­play showed Wheel’s hand on Oliver’s shoul­der and Quit­ten­ton pointed at Wheel and in­di­cated he had held Oliver down.

With Welsh fans in­censed, All Blacks re­place­ment full­back Brian McKech­nie kicked the penalty for a 13-12 vic­tory. The All Blacks went on to achieve a his­toric first Grand Slam tour of Bri­tain and Ire­land.

Some Welsh play­ers have never for­got­ten the way that test ended.

Cen­tre Steve Fen­wick told The Rugby Pa­per in 2016: ‘‘No-one has more re­spect for the All Blacks than me but that was a dis­grace, the clos­est thing I’ve seen to soc­cer on a rugby field.’’

Haden says the li­ne­out dive was a tac­tic born out of ‘‘frus­tra­tion’’.

The 1978 All Blacks felt they had a po­ten­tially strong li­ne­out with Haden and Oliver sup­ported by tall No 8 Gary Seear near the rear.

But Haden said the New Zea­land li­ne­out men ‘‘weren’t able to jump’’ be­cause of tac­tics by the Welsh.

‘‘We had had two or three games in Wales be­fore the test where the op­po­si­tion draped them­selves all over the top of us, and they weren’t pe­nalised.

‘‘When we punched them, we got pe­nalised, so we had to work out ways of get­ting our li­ne­out ball be­cause, with­out it, we would have been strug­gling.’’

At the fi­nal train­ing ses­sion be­fore the test, start­ing half­back Mark Don­ald­son broke down with in­jury at a li­ne­out prac­tice and the play­ers had to wait for Dave Loveridge to be sum­monsed as a re­place­ment.

Haden says dur­ing the break Mourie re­called a yarn about Taranaki lock Ian Elia­son de­lib­er­ately leap­ing out of a li­ne­out while be­ing marked by King Coun­try’s All Blacks great Colin Meads.

‘‘He got not one penalty, he got three, which in­fu­ri­ated Pine­tree, for ex­actly the same rea­son [as it in­fu­ri­ated Wales].’’

Mourie told Haden, the All Blacks’ li­ne­out ex­pert, that he might have to file that tac­tic away.

The op­por­tu­nity pre­sented it­self in the 77th minute at Cardiff Arms Park.

Wales had had the bet­ter of the test, in terms of ter­ri­tory and pos­ses­sion, but Bruce’s rak­ing kick put the All Blacks in­side the Welsh 22 ‘‘for the first time for a long while’’, Haden re­called.

‘‘Doug went down with an in­jury [and while he was be­ing treated], I said to Mourie that we were go­ing to use that tac­tic he had brought up at train­ing, and I told Frank that we were go­ing to do it.

‘‘He gave me a nod, and Mourie just rolled his eyes . . . he knew it was go­ing to hap­pen.’’

With Wind­sor set to throw, ‘‘the ref was on our side of the li­ne­out on the 5m line’’, Haden said.

‘‘Be­fore the ball was thrown in, he moved around past us and around the back to the other side.

‘‘He could ob­vi­ously see all their play­ers, but he couldn’t see us.

‘‘That’s the rea­son [the dive] was quite a the­atri­cal per­for­mance, to make sure we got his at­ten­tion.’’

Wind­sor told Wales On­line at the time of Oliver’s death in 2014 that he ‘‘told Quit­ten­ton straight away, ‘Ref, you’ve been conned’.’’

Wales prop Gra­ham Price also told the Welsh news web­site that Oliver had ‘‘backed into Ge­off Wheel and Ge­off did what he had to do, put up an arm to fend off Oliver. He hardly did any­thing, but Oliver flew out of the li­ne­out and Quit­ten­ton fell for it. It was un­fair.’’

When Haden’s marker, Welsh lock Al­lan Mar­tin, saw the All Black fly out of the li­ne­out, he thought: ‘‘Jeff Squire [the Welsh flanker] be­hind me must have hit him.’’

Haden said the li­ne­out dive ruse ‘‘wasn’t il­le­gal’’ as there ‘‘was noth­ing in the rugby rule book to say you could, or could not do it’’.

He said Gareth Ed­wards, the great Wales and Bri­tish and Ir­ish Li­ons half­back, had once told him it was no dif­fer­ent to his own tac­tic ‘‘of putting his hands up the jersey and run­ning from the base of the scrum’’ in the hope ‘‘that the loose for­wards fol­lowed him and he could catch them off­side’’.

‘‘In ei­ther case, the rule book doesn’t say you are al­lowed to do it or you aren’t al­lowed to do it; it just doesn’t ap­pear.’’

‘‘You do what you pos­si­bly can, within the rules, to win. It isn’t cheat­ing, it’s us­ing what­ever ad­van­tage you can.’’

Haden said the All Blacks had to ‘‘draw the ref’s at­ten­tion to the op­po­si­tion drap­ing them­selves over your shoul­der, and get a penalty to stop them do­ing it.’’

He claimed ‘‘ei­ther Wheel’s or Mar­tin’s hands were on our shoul­ders, not once or twice or three times, but at ev­ery li­ne­out’’.

Haden was, how­ever, wary at the time of a po­ten­tial back­lash from the pas­sion­ate Welsh rugby pub­lic.

He skipped the test din­ner and ac­com­pa­nied full­back Clive Cur­rie – who had bro­ken his jaw – back to the All Blacks’ ho­tel at Porth­cawl.

In­side the lobby, the ho­tel switch­board was lit up like a Christ­mas tree. The re­cep­tion­ist said there were 10 callers wait­ing, ‘‘all ask­ing for you, Mr Haden’’.

Haden said: ‘‘They’ll still be ask­ing the same ques­tion in 50 years’’, as he ‘‘jumped up on the counter, and pulled all the plugs out’’.

Later, when the team moved on to nearby Bris­tol, Haden was happy to spend four days in the ho­tel as the All Blacks put play­ers in quar­an­tine af­ter a scrum pox out­break.

By then, the storm had blown over. In an in­ter­view for the Mud and Glory: Great Rugby Sto­ries tele­vi­sion se­ries in 1990, Haden joked about the in­ci­dent openly, say­ing his plum­met was ‘‘ter­ri­ble ob­struc­tion on the day. It was a shock­ing shove. I’ve still got arthri­tis in the shoul­der from it’’.

Gra­ham Price said in his Wales On­line in­ter­view in 2014 it ‘‘still ran­kles’’ to have had a test vic­tory ‘‘taken away like that by two blokes div­ing out of the li­ne­out’’.

But Haden reck­oned the heat had gone out of the in­ci­dent by the time he next vis­ited Cardiff for the 1980 Wales cen­te­nary test, which the All Blacks won 23-3.

‘‘At the test din­ner, Al­lan Mar­tin did a speech and said: ‘It’s good to see Frank and Andy back here . . . would one of them dive up here and get the salt, and the other dive up and get the pep­per’.

‘‘They were treat­ing it with a bit of hu­mour, and we laughed with them.’’

Haden claimed some Welsh play­ers had told him over the years ‘‘they only wished they had thought of it first’’.

They had ad­mit­ted, he said, that drap­ing them­selves over the All Blacks had been a de­lib­er­ate tac­tic to deny the vis­i­tors li­ne­out ball.

For McKech­nie, kick­ing the win­ning goal against Wales proved one of the high­lights of his ca­reer.

The dou­ble All Black – who was on the re­ceiv­ing end of cricket’s un­der­arm bowl­ing con­tro­versy in 1981 – said in a 2016 book, Be­hind the Sil­ver Fern – Play­ing Rugby for New Zea­land, that hear­ing Mourie dis­close he had di­vulged Elia­son’s li­ne­out dive tac­tic to Haden, had ‘‘de­tracted some­what’’ from the mem­ory of beat­ing Wales.

‘‘I’m glad I did not know it at the time.’’

While Mourie – who be­came a suc­cess­ful coach and a New Zea­land Rugby and In­ter­na­tional Rugby Board mem­ber – has al­ways ac­cepted Quit­ten­ton’s ver­sion that the penalty was awarded for Wheel’s hand on Oliver’s shoul­der, he said in Be­hind the Sil­ver Fern that ‘‘it wouldn’t be some­thing I would en­cour­age if I was coach­ing’’.

‘‘Th­ese things hap­pen on the spur of the mo­ment,’’ he said, and ‘‘on the day Andy said to me as he was wan­der­ing to the li­ne­out, ‘I’m go­ing to do it’. I didn’t have a clue what he was talk­ing about. It had slipped my mind.

‘‘As I said, I don’t think it was the rea­son for the penalty. But in terms of the ethics and the sports­man­ship, I sup­pose it goes back to the 1905 Deans in­ci­dent [when All Blacks back Bob Deans was al­legedly pulled back by the Welsh af­ter cross­ing the try­line], doesn’t it?’’

For the last 28 years, Haden has been go­ing to Ber­muda with the Clas­sic All Blacks for an in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ment fea­tur­ing test greats of yes­ter­year.

‘‘Plenty of Welsh­man from that era, in­clud­ing Al­lan Mar­tin who was in­volved, were in Ber­muda.

‘‘I don’t think it’s been raised for the last 25 years.’’

Haden says he has never ‘‘felt as if I needed to apol­o­gise’’ for his ac­tions in 1978.

‘‘You don’t apol­o­gise for do­ing what you were se­lected to do.

‘‘You don’t make ex­cuses for want­ing to win.’’

‘‘When we punched them, we got pe­nalised, so we had to work out ways of get­ting our li­ne­out ball be­cause, with­out it, we would have been strug­gling.’’ Andy Haden


Frank Oliver, front, and Andy Haden pre­pare for the fate­ful li­ne­out against Wales in 1978.

Andy Haden in 2011.

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