January 19 1946
“Kiwis” suffer their first loss against Scotland.
Scotland have never defeated the All Blacks. But in 1946 they did what neither England, Wales or France could do, unexpectedly winning against the previously unbeaten NZEF “Kiwis” 11 – 6 in a thrilling game at Murrayfield. There was no argument about the result, Scotland were the better team on the day.
v. Scotland, at Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Maurice Ingpen made a belated appearance as a member of, the team for the trip to Scotland; no doubt the injury to Haigh’s head—a couple of stitches were necessary—forced the decision, one which was obvious from the start. Haigh played, including this Scotland match, in thirteen out of 16 games! Far too many in that position.
To the huge number of people who have asked me at various; times: “What happened against Scotland?” invariably I have replied ‘‘We were beaten.’’ Yes, we were beaten, on the day, by a better team. To any of you who later saw the “Kiwis” beaten by Wellington, let me say that the two games were not quite’ the same. The Wellington forwards were better than the Scottish pack, but the Scots’ back-line saw more ball than Wellington— and used it to advantage. There was one similarity, however:
Charlie Saxton received early attention in both games. In the Scotland match he got a nasty kick on, his right hand early in the; piece—quite legitimate—and it certainly affected his passing, which lacked his usual certainty and speed. Rhind could not play, having to remain in ‘bed at the hotel with ‘flu. He was forced to ‘‘listen-in.’’ Poor Pat!
I would sum the game up thus: despite the fact that we go more ball from the scrums than usual, our backs did not make full use of it, being often caught flat-footed. Consequently, though they had many opportunities, in their anxiety to speed up, their handling became faulty. ‘Couple this with the fact that the Scottish forwards were devastating in rucks and loose foot rushes, and that the Scottish backs seldom dropped a pass, and you have the story of the Scotland match.
It is strange now, remembering how convinced everyone was —including Scots—that the “Kiwis” would win by anything up to 30 points. Scotland was to have played England on the same day we played Wales, but heavy frosts having made Murrayfield like sheet-glass, the game was postponed. ‘So Scotland was, to quote a well-known Scot, “An unknown and untried rabble.” Just as well they were, or goodness only knows what might hay happened! Kearney was flat-footed taking Saxton ‘s passes, but the fault was not Kearney’s. It was obvious that Saxton was suffering agony with his hand and shoulder and his passes were not good. The whole back-line suffered accordingly. Even Smith mis-handled—the only time I ever knew it happen. Incidentally he went to bed with ‘flu the next day—so did four others—and missed the next four games. It is no good blaming the forwards for the defeat. They got enough ball for the backs to win a dozen matches, but the backs just couldn’t do it. They we close to scoring many times, but bad handling and bad passing were the rule this day and not the exception.
One of the highlights of the day was the chant by 50,000 Scots ‘‘Feet, feet, feet, feet,’’ and the Scotland pack taking the cue. and sweeping down the field with the ball at toe. Aye, mon, but yon was a gr-r-r-and sight! The side-row men, Elliott and Orr as well as Black, the scrum-half, paid Saxton the compliment of “sitting on his doorstep” all day. I would say that Elliott was, perhaps, the best all-round forward I saw on the tour, with the possible exception of the Frenchman, Soro.
The ‘‘Kiwis’’ were first to score. Following a run by Argus, Munro went to kick clear, but Arnold charged down the kick and booted ahead; Woolley picked up and ran 10 yards to score near the left-hand corner. Cook missed the goal (3-0). That was after 19 minutes of play. For almost the whole of the next 20 minutes the “Kiwis” had to defend desperately. Time after time the Scottish forwards broke through; and once Munro was nearly in, but Smith saved only just in time. Then Cook swept the ball off Elliott’s toes when the forward looked as if he might go over. Arnold, Simpson, Finlay and Woolley, then replied in kind and relieved the pressure. Kearney kicked ahead, but Geddes touched down with Argus close by. Half-time was called with the-”Kiwis” leading 3-0. The pace had been very fast, and there were many worried Scots who wondered if their pack would stay the distance.
The first half of the second spell was all Scotland. The forwards “tore” in from the word “go” and they just hammered at the “Kiwi” line. The defence was magnificent, but the writing was on the walL Suddenly the Scottish backs decided it was time they took a hand in the attack. Fly-half Lumsden found a gap at half-way and then sent on to Bruce. He “made it” for Anderson, and the winger went across in the right-hand corner to the accompaniment of a terrific crowd roar. Geddes missed the kick, and the scores were level with 20 minutes to go (3-3).
Heartened by their previous effort, the Scots backs began to throw the ball around. Just three minutes later, Munro ran through
from the centre of the twenty-five to score near the right-hand touch. “Duggie” Smith took the kick, and it was a beauty (3-8).
With visions of their first defeat before them, the “Kiwis’’ went in desperately. McPhail, Blake and Simpson went tearing away, and then Finlay was nearly through. Smith raced down the right wing to the twenty-five and passed infield where Finlay & Arnold were waiting, but the ball went astray. Next, Arnold went through and caught Geddes in possession, but a penalty to Scotland. relieved the pressure. It was thrilling Rugby. Smith, Kearney and Allen, ripped the defence to ribbons with a sample of
clever inter-passing, but again anxiety led to faulty handling. Excitement was intense when Cook kicked a penalty for the “Kiwis” from the twenty-five (6-8).
For the first time in an hour the ‘‘Kiwis’’ now seemed to have a chance, but Bruce, Munro and Geddes, were not to be harried, and they drove play to within 10 yards of the “Kiwi” line on the Scot’s left wing. Then Elliott picked up in the loose and threw a long pass to Bruce who was five yards inside the ‘‘Kiwi’’ twenty-five and straight out from the posts. Bruce, went to have a “pot.” at goal but the ball swerved away to the right and over the line; Anderson was first to get to it in the corner. Nobody in Scotland cared whether Smith kicked the goaL or not—he didn’t—because time was up and Scotland: had defeated a New Zealand side for the first time (11-6-). The sight that followed was amazing. Inside a minute the playing field was black with running, cheering spectators—all of them Scots!
The “Kiwis” weer the first to congratulate Geddes and his team, and they were sincere congratulations. It was a hard, fast, clean game, and there were no excuses. The Scottish people were realIy amazed at the way the “Kiwis.’ took their defeat, and their fine sporting attitude endeared them to the Scots.
I forgot to mention earlier that Scotland. discarded the traditional Blue jerseys on this occasion and played in White
From “Broadcasting with the Kiwis” by Winston McCarthy. Pub. By Sporting Publications 1947. P. 60-62.