May 4 1957
Who to chose for the Australian tour?
With the 1956 Springboks soundly beaten and New Zealand’s rugby standing on a high it was necessary the next year to select an All Black team for a 13 match tour of Australia.
As was the custom then, a series of trial matches were played, starting on April 30 in Christchurch and finishing on 4 May in Wellington. Then, after selection, there was a pre-tour Black XV v White XV match at Eden Park on May 11.
The South Island trial, involving two teams, was played at Lancaster Park on April 30 1957 and was somewhat one sided, resulting:
South Island “Probables” 22. B P J Molloy, A E G Elsom, Dennis Young, D L Ashby and Geo. Anderson tries. D L Ashby pen. & 2 con.
South Island “Possibles” 9. J R Watt 3 pen.
There were no triallists from Nelson, Marlborough, Golden Bay-Motueka or North Otago. All other Unions were represented.
The North Island trial, involving four teams, was held the following day, May 1, on the Showgrounds Oval, Palmerston North. The matches were reasonably even, resulting:
North Island “Possibles” B 24. R R Cossey and J B Darrah tries. Knox Karaka drop goal and 5 pen.
North Island “Probables” B 15. E A R Pickering, H C Marett and L C Russell tries. R G Oswald 3 con.
North Island “Probables” A 28. R H Brown (3), R C H Blake and D B Green tries. D B Clarke drop goal, 2 pen., 2 con.
North Island “Possibles” A 19. R F McMullen (2), T R Lineen, M J McDonald and W S S Freebairn tries. Dixon Wright 2 con.
Horowhenua was the only North Island union without a triallist.
From the above trials 60 players, plus a further group who acted as reserves for both trials but for the most part did not take the field, headed for the final trials at Athletic Park, Wellington on May 4.
The early trial was disappointing in that it was very one sided, resulting:
New Zealand “Probables” B 43. R R Cossey (3), H J Levien (2), H K Emery (2), J L Bayly and T I Egerton tries. J L Bayly drop goal, pen. and 5 conversions.
New Zealand “Possibles” B 6. L A Clark try, Knox Karaka pen.
The 3pm contest was very close, with just one point in it.
New Zealand “Probables” A 14. C E Meads, P T Walsh, W J Whineray and W R Archer tries. D L Ashby con.
New Zealand “Possibles” A 13. R H Brown, A J Soper and R F McMullen tries. D B Clarke 2 con.
The All Black touring party was named after the trial but before leaving for Australia played a Black XV v White XV match at Eden Park on May 11. The Black XV were all from the All Blacks, the remainder of the tour party plus 5 Aucklanders made up the White XV. It was a close contest:
Black XV 32. J R Watt (2), A R Reid, P T Walsh, R H Brown and R F McMullen tries. D B Clarke 2 pen and 4 con.
White XV 28. T R Lineen (2), D J Graham (2), H L Levien and M J Dixon tries. T J S Riley and P S Burke pen. T R Lineen and J R Skeen con.
The match was unusual in that it was played under a rule variation. In New Zealand the ball could be kicked into touch on the full without penalty. But in Australia the matches were to be played under the “kick for touch on the full from within your own 25” i e the rule now applied universally, and this May 11 match was played under the Australian variation.
Play went well, until someone outside his own 25 grubbered the ball into touch for a good territory gain, exactly in accordance with the rule variation. But an over-zealous touch judge signalled for a lineout back where the ball was kicked, before being told of his error by the referee, and a goodish section of the crowd.