An English bloke I met trekking in Nepal, in 1998-99, had been in the English schoolboy rugby team and had played against our lads.
He’d been coached by Terry Cobner, pack leader for the 1977 Lions – he may have been vice captain, I’m not sure.
Anyway, Cobner coached them on the psychology of New Zealand rugby: we play not out of joy of winning, he rekkined, but out of a fear amounting to terror of losing.
I had to point out that, at the time, the All Blacks seemed to have regrettably overcome this fear – 1998 was one of the worst seasons ever, something Liam Hehir indirectly reminded me of on the Twitter this morning.
Perhaps it is also why New Zealand is treating last night’s draw as a loss, while the Brits are treating it as a win.
Fifteen All? Perhaps it was deserved. Would have been happier if it had been deserved bacause of some iffy play by the ABs in the first half, and not some even iffier decidions by the reff in the final quarter.
This was Graham Mourie’s first test. Huge build-up. The ABs had lost the previous test and only had an iffy win in the first test. Coming the year against a lost series in South Africa, there was a sense of crisis.
The selectors went berko after the second test loss, making six changes and – most shockingly of all – dropping veteran halfback Sid Going.
It was an extremely wet winter, and Carisbrook had been rained on all week. From memory, the rugby union hired a couple of helicopters to fly up and down the ground for hours before the test, trying to dry out the ground with the downdraft from the rotor blades.
This may be a bit of a legend. I don’t know.
The dropping of Going at halfback was seen as a signal the All Blacks would run the ball through the backline rather than having Sid Going have a go on his own and fold it back into the forwards.
Anyway, they showed they would do that, right in the opening minute. Bruce Robertson – Counties’ only player in the side, something I kind of noted, as a Waiuku lad – had a fantastic day.
After a couple of years without a decent goalkicker – Joe Karam, who has since gone on to fame in other areas, had been a dead-eye dick with the boot for years but in 1975 he went to league – the new boy at fullback, Bevan Wilson, was a real find.
And of course it was Kirkpatrick’s 50th try.
Anyway, it was a really great game. Here’s the highlights.