It’s nothing compared to the All Blacks of ‘49
LIFE is hectic for New Zealand national sides right now, what with the Gallaher Cup match against France in Paris last night and Tuesday’s much anticipated extra match against a France XV in Lyon. A riot of rugby but far from un precedented. In fact New Zealand once played two capped Tests on the same day September 3, 1949.
First up in Wellington that day came the Australians. New Zealand were deprived of the 30 players on tour in South Africa but they still boasted three Maori backs who had been excluded from the tour on racial grounds - Johnny Smith, Ben Couch and Vince Bevan – and who would probably have been first choice All Blacks.
At scrum-half was future All Blacks captain Bob Stuart while making his debut up front was Richard ‘Tiny’ White, below, who was to become one of the New Zealand immortals in the 1950s.
A tidy team but Australia pretty much had the match tied up by half-time with two tries for wing Ralph Garner and a third for flanker Colin Windon. The Kiwis did manage a second half try from Graham Moore and a penalty from Kelly.
Meanwhile in Durban, 11,264 km away a bad day got worse when the New Zealand’s first string lost 9-3 to South Africa against a powerful Boks side with Oky Geffin kicking three penalties. Centre Maurice Goddard scored New Zealand’s try.
The closest to emulating this was Italy during a madcap New Zealand tour in 1980 when they lost to NZ Juniors 30-13 at Eden Park – Italy were awarded caps – on July 5 before heading straight for the Cook Islands. Less than 48 hours later, on what was July 6 because they crossed the international dateline Italy lost 15-6. Three Italian backs Rhino and Nino Francescato and Stephano Battarello completed both matches.