Former All Black coach Bryce Rope died on Saturday aged 90. He coached the All Blacks in 83-84, winning nine and drawing one out of 12 Tests.
In 1983, he coached the All blacks to a 4-nil sweep of the Lions, the highlight being a 38-6 hammering in the fourth Test at Eden Park.
Bryce the player represented Auckland in the 40s and early 50s.
The ’83 Lions tour is one I fondly remember. I followed it as a child with great interest.
At 18 matches, it was shorter than previous tours, but really was the last “long” tour to NZ.
There was a strong All Black team with an experienced pack, with the New Zealand rugby hero Jock Hobbs making his debut.
The first three Tests were close affairs on the scoreboard, with the All Blacks always seeming to have an edge.
The second Test in Wellington, remembered as “Loveridge’s Test”, was played through a howling southerly with the halftime score of 9-0 to the All Blacks holding through to the end of the match.
Loveridge gave the performance of his career, scoring the only try and making fantastic use of a dominant All Black pack.
The fourth Test is one I well remember.
I was a 12-year-old who worshipped the All Blacks.
A completed performance was crowned by Stu Wilson scoring a hat trick in his final All Black game in NZ to break Ian Kirkpatrick’s All Black Test try-scoring record.
I remember Bryce Rope when I think back to these times, as I was forming my love of the game as a lad, so was saddened to hear the news of his passing.
Bryce Rope left his mark in our game and as such could take great pride from his achievements in rugby.
R.I.P Bryce Rope.