The Team That Changed Rugby For­ever

Rugby World - - BOOK REVIEWS 4 OF THE BEST -

NEW ZEALAND’S 4- 0 white­wash in South Africa in 1949 led to the All Blacks adopt­ing a dour kick-based game that brought suc­cess but lim­ited sat­is­fac­tion. That changed when 15-man ad­vo­cate Char­lie Sax­ton man­aged the 1967 Euro­pean tour.

With ruth­less Fred Allen as coach, the team ran the ball and went un­beaten, de­spite such diffi cul­ties as reschedul­ing be­cause of snow and foot-and-mouth dis­ease, Colin Meads’s send­ing- off, a cat­a­strophic in­jury to English op­po­nent Danny Hearn, and even wit­ness­ing a fa­tal shoot­ing in San Fran­cisco.

Au­thor Alex McKay in­ter­viewed the 23 sur­viv­ing play­ers for this book of the tour, and their sto­ries neatly in­ter­sperse the nar­ra­tive.

For the era, New Zealand’s 71 tries in 17 games was a fl ood but Allen soon quit in anger af­ter be­ing re­buked – for al­low­ing a jour­nal­ist be­hind-the-scenes ac­cess – and Ivan Vo­danovich took the All Blacks back to ten-man rugby.

So the book’s ti­tle is eye- catch­ing but in­ac­cu­rate, be­cause it was the counter-at­tack­ing 1971 Lions who more than any­one forced New Zealand to ex­pand their at­tack­ing mind­set.


Colin Meads tries to block al kick in NZ’s 1967 win v Mid­landsl

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