No regrets for Haden over dive
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.