June 4 1969

Wales bounce back after test defeat.

Beaten 19 – 0 by the All Blacks in the 1st test the Welsh touring team faced Otago in their next match and came away with a clear cut 27 – 9 win. This was a good performance, for Otago had had a good season in 1968 (11 wins from 13 games). Their team included All Blacks Earle Kirton and Tony Kreft and future All Blacks Laurie Mains, Duncan Robertson, Lin Colling and Lindsay Clark.


Earle Kirton - Otago captain, splendid game.

“Otago 9, Wales 27. Carisbrook, Dunedin. 4 June 1969.

Up and down like jacks-in-the-boxes jumped the thousands of spectators as the anthems came along. A choir assembled in the Rose Stand, mostly Kiwi but including a fair proportion of the Welsh suporters, had the help of a band as it launched from time to time into “God Defend New Zealand”, “Land of My Fathers” and the good old “N.A.”. It was a change, at any rate, to hear these things sung tolerably well. It was also interesting that a good proportion of the audience in the main grandstand appeared to have a working acquaintance with “God Defence New Zealand”, the volume of, for instance, “Hear our voices, we entreat”, not being markedly lower than the volume on the one line all of New Zealand can sing. Perhaps this was local pride at work—after all, had not the poet come from Dunedin?

So the singing was good. But the running of Richards in going in for his three tries was even better. Fine goalkicking from Jarrett, too— 15 points’ worth. Why on earth could the boy not do these things in test matches? It was a cold day, temperature 47 degrees, with a braw wind blowing from the south-west, and the goalkickers, Jarrett twice and Mains once, had excuse for failing with attempts at penalties from 27 yards, 30 yards and 25 yards respectively. The Dragons were knocking at the knees in those first fifteen minutes, for Otago, forward and back, were as braw as the breeze and there looked a possibility of the province, for the fourth time since the war, defeating a touring team from the British Isles. To be sure, they were not the Otago of the V. G. Cavanagh days of twenty years before—but then, what team is? And to mention this great coach is to be reminded of the excesses which can follow misunderstanding of a simple statement. Price had happened to mention, a day or two before the match, that he would like a word or two with Mr Cavanagh, just to chat about Rugby generally. Pretty soon, the word was leaping around: Welsh Captain Desires Interview with Famed Coach. And from there it was but a step into such extravagances as a smitten Welsh team seeking, through their captain, spiritual and practical guidance as a solution for all their problems. Sometimes it’s no wonder that touring captains like Campbell-Lamerton voice strong views about the purveyors of piffle.

And then, in the fifteenth minute, Hopkins set Richards going down the blindside. Dawes, Jarrett and, from an in- pass, Taylor, figured in the movement. When the ball was checked, Wales won the heel as expertly as an All Black pack might have done. From Hopkins, the pass went to Richards. He chopped out Hunter, approached Mains and with a violently efficient sidestep beat him cold for a try. Only three minutes later, Richards was away again. John made a break and a well-timed pass from Jarrett put Richards in the clear with 60 yards to go. He went. Jarrett goaled. It was 10-nil. Precisely within those few minutes, the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, with that mindless stupidity which is at times one of its endearing characteristics, shut off the broadcast of the match to tell the world the latest world news. Back in Wains Hotel, coughing, spluttering, heating and freezing, lay Rowlands, suffering from a splendid dose of the ‘flu. For fifteen minutes during the commentary, he had sweated and groaned at each account of Welsh incompetence. When the commentary went off and the news came on, Rowlands sweated more. And then, with the announcement that “we now return you to Carisbrook”, came the further announcement that Wales were 10-nil in the lead. Magic? By God, there are strange occurrences when people stand on their heads, as they have to when they live Down Under.

Mains pegged back the score with a 25-yard penalty goal, but after half-time the Dragons began to roll with an easy penalty by Jarrett and, after an answering penalty by Mains, a dropped goal by John from 35 yards; a perfect dropped goal, it may be said, for the boy took all the time in the world after the pass had been made to him from a scrum. And then Richards was away for his third try. It began from a loose kick into midfield by Mains. Williams, Jarrett and Richards by smart running teamed up and Richards with sizzling acceleration sped 25 yards to a try Jarrett easily goaled. For about fifteen minutes, the Welsh retired into a coma from which they emerged when Jarrett twice placed penalty goals, one from 30, the other from 40 yards; and as a reward for a good deal of striving, Kreft scored for Otago.

Otago were good, but not good enough. Kreft, Townsend and House among the forwards were especially good and Colling, who had to retire with an injury, Kirton, Collins, and Mains were splendid backs. It was a pity the Otago forwards so often tended to regard the ruck as a place of holy war. Just before half-time, Mervyn Davies was cruelly heeled as he lay on the ground and Price looked to be offering, as indeed he was entitled, a most vigorous protest.

Whatever the vigour of Otago, at any rate, the Welsh were decidedly the superior team and they would have been even more so if John had not so often made his own plays instead of bringing the threequarters into the game. Dawes and Jarrett in the centres were highly skilful with their quick passes and Richards was just sublime. There was considerably more strength and gumption in the pack, too, principally because of Delme Thomas and Liewellyn; but the rucking was still far from the Cavanagh standard. Rowlands was on the point, as he admitted, of giving up the ghost about rucking. There was no chance, he said, of the forwards learning enough within the short compass of the tour. Hence the four-man lineouts which were sometimes used during the game. Hence, too, the developing thoughts about concentrating the All Black forwards efforts only to set-pieces. In these, the Welsh believed, they could hold their own.

Otago: L. W. Mains; G. Hunter, S. G. Inglis, M. P. Collins; D. J. Robertson, E. W. Kirton (captain); G. L. Colling; D. G. Hatfield; S. H. O. Reaney, A. J. Banks, R. W. House, W. W. Townsend; L. A. Clark, D. A. Pescini, A. J. Kreft.
When Colling retired, he was replaced by C. W. Martin.
Wales: John Williams; Watkins, Dawes, Jarrett, Richards; John, Hopkins; T. M. Davies; Taylor, Price, Delme Thomas, Hughes; Denzil Williams, Gale, Llewellyn.
Referee: Mr P. A. McDavitt (Wellington).”

 

From “Red Dragons of Rugby” by T P McLean. Published 1969 by A H & A W Reed. Pp 103-6.