The Roar
The Roar


Roar Guru

Joined June 2010









What do you think it was that changed, nerval?

You’re right that it ignores the comparison between GB/ENG vs AUS in league during the same period, as the title and content of the article is more about a trans tasman comparison.

I can see that the head to head until the 1952 series (using the same timeframes as was used in the AUS v NZL scenario above) was about 65%-35% in favour of GB/ENG and since then the count has swung in favour of Australia by about the same ratio.

What do you think has changed so much for Australia to pull into the ascendancy in this contest.

A close parallel in Rugby would be that between SAF and NZL. Up until the 1956 series the head to head was in SAF favour by about the same ratio and since then it has swung about in the same manner as AUS v GB/ENG in league.

One could make a strong case that, as much as Australia has improved in league since the 1950s, this can be countered by an equal improvement by NZL in rugby.

What if union, not league, was more popular in Australia?

It’s a nice theory, but the historical evidence tends to dispel the myth.

In the brief period where there was just one rugby code, 1880s to late 1900s, New Zealand had a dominant record against both of the rugby playing colonies and later the Australian test team.

While the overall head to head of the two nations in the respective codes, falls in favour of the Kangaroos, in the terms of this article it is instructive to analyse the period where there was a crossover of players between the codes.

By the end of the 1953 rugby league test series the head to head count was 12-12 between the kiwis and kangaroos.

New Zealand actually led the Rugby League Test Match head to head count from the first match in 1908 until 1919.

The vast majority (30 out of 37) of All Black and Kiwi dual internationals played for the Kiwis pre 1950.

20 of those 30 played between 1908 and 1919 when the head to head count was in New Zealand’s favour.

In the 1908-1953 period 50% of AUS v NZL matches were won. From 1954 onwards where only 7 former All Blacks have played the success rate is 15%.

These figures combined with those of the late 19th and early 20th century would strongly suggest that it would be New Zealand and not Australia that would dominate a One Code parallel universe.

What if union, not league, was more popular in Australia?

Best team all year and deserved no less than to be crowned Olympic champs. It’s good to see consistency rewarded. Congratulations to the Pearls.

Australian women's rugby sevens team makes Olympic history

So your contention is that the tackle was in the field of play and not in goal. It then follows hat the tackler has no legal right to prevent the tackled player from placing the ball, as Laumape attempted to do, because he was off his feet. As Laumape planted the ball on the post whilst being obstructed by the tackler, it’s probable that had the tackler rolled away, as required to do by law, Laumape would have scored. Penalty try.

Hurricanes vs Kings highlights: Hurricanes secure late bonus point win

yes it did, so would that mean that The tackle is ruled to be in goal and therefore the tackler playing the ball can do so while off his feet? That scenario would make the player playing the ball off his feet legal and then no try held up? Just seeking to clarify if that’s the way the law should be applied.

Any referees out there to shed some light on this one?

Hurricanes vs Kings highlights: Hurricanes secure late bonus point win

Law boffins?

Penalty try? Law 22.4 (f)
In this situation, defending players who are on their feet may legally prevent the try by pulling the ball from the tackled player’s hands or arms, but must not kick the ball.

The Kings player preventing Laumape from scoring against the post was off his feet in the field of play. Does he have any legal right to prevent Laumape from placing the ball immediately in any direction? If not, it’s a penalisable offence preventing a try, isn’t it? Sanction, Penalty Try.?

Hurricanes vs Kings highlights: Hurricanes secure late bonus point win

One’s credibility comes into question when Bruce McLeod, Ian Kirkpatrick, Graham Mourie and Grant Fox come into the firing line in a discussion about the 100 greatest All Blacks ever.

I can only say that I’ve never called a glass of Coke Zero a Horse, but others I wonder about. I really do 🙂

And I’ll save Jerry the trouble of pointing out your factual error. Grant Fox scored at least 1 test try… against the Scots if I remember correctly.

Who has been rugby's greatest ever player?

It is only your opinion that the players you named were “far better players”.

In my opinion, only ONE of the players you mention (Dennis Young), would I consider to be on the level of “shock omission” from the 100 that were ranked. The others were Dick Roberts and Ian Jones, but when you have judges of the calibre of Lindsay Knight, Bob Luxford, Bob Howitt and Sir TP McLean on the panel it’s very hard to cast aspersions.

As a matter of interest, which of the 100 that were ranked would you have omitted in favour of “Dennis Young, Ron Rangi,Mac Herewini, Earl Kirton, Anton Oliver, Kevin Briscoe, Kevin Laidlaw, Frano Botica, Kenny Stewart, Aaron Pene, etc.”?

Who has been rugby's greatest ever player?

You’re correct Muzzo, in so far as that is the ranking I refer to.

I do think it is a fair estimation at the time and what sort of reassessment would reasonably have been expected from the judges, considering only 8 of his 73 matches and 3 of his 43 tries for the All Blacks were after 2001? Same goes for Cullen with 6 out of 60 matches and 4 out of 52 tries.

As I pointed out above, Tana Umaga did spring to mind as someone that would have a legitimate claim to be reassessed as 37 of his 74 matches for the All Blacks were post 2001.

Furthermore, I think the collective rankings of the judging panel were a little generous towards Lomu as, in my opinion, he would be much further down the list than 23. I think all things considered, somewhere in the late 30’s would be about right.

Who has been rugby's greatest ever player?

I won’t name my greatest ever World XV by position as others have above, but let it suffice that if I were selecting a side to, in the words of the great British scribe Denzil Batchelor, “play for the Kingdom of Heaven, against the rest”, I could only(and gladly) select three Springboks and one Welshman. The rest would be All Blacks.

The one Welshman should be obvious.

The Springboks would be – Hennie Muller, Boy Louw and Frik du Preez.

Captain would be Sir Richie McCaw – rugby’s greatest ever player!

Who has been rugby's greatest ever player?

Sir Terry McLean gave an interview in 1995 whereby he claimed that, and I’m paraphrasing here… if anyone contends that there has been a better back than Bert Cooke, they should be thrown into an insane asylum and have the key thrown away!

He was devastating in both attack and defence, had kicking skills and immaculate handling both giving and receiving, and only a small man as well, but could bring down even the largest rugby players with copybook tackling. He is claimed to have remarked that “neither the biggest nor the fastest player can run with his knees jammed together”.

His tryscoring record speaks for itself (39 tries in 44 matches for the All Blacks) and was the first player to score 100 tries in New Zealand first class rugby (121 in 131 matches). These are strikerates that many of the so-called modern greats can’t match statistically – Cullen, Lomu, Wilson, BG Williams you name it – they are statistically inferior by these measures. Only Ron Jarden springs to mind as an attacker in the class of Bert Cooke (145 tries in 134 matches).

Who has been rugby's greatest ever player?

Then you must have a time machine Muzzo, as Tribute was definitely 2001. I moved to Australia on December 15th 1999 and remember hearing an online radio interview with Verdon when he was doing the media circuit for the release of the book. I made sure my cousin bought it for me at Whitcoulls before he came over for a visit in 2002.

Considering that both Cullen and Lomu played the last of their matches for the All Blacks in 2002, there wasn’t much they could have done to advance their respective legacies in that time. The “very best” or even “just good” years of their rugby careers had most certainly passed them by that time.

One of the few players included in the ranking, who went on to play a significant amount of rugby after 2001 was Tana Umaga.

Who has been rugby's greatest ever player?

“To develop a proper appreciation of the games’s greats, you need to read up on the history of the game”.

Game. Set. Match, sir.

Reading the comments above, there sadly seems to be very little of this being done, OJ. Very sad.

Who has been rugby's greatest ever player?

The other thing about Sir Colin Meads, which applies to Sir Richie McCaw and applied to Maurice Brownlie (the player who prior to Meads held the mantle of GOAT) was the sheer consistency of performance. Not only did these players produce fine performances, but they did it year in and year out in match after match.

Who has been rugby's greatest ever player?

There wouldn’t be many, if any, over Bruce Robertson. That man was a genius and a brilliant athlete as well. He’d have many of the “modern” centres on toast with his skill and speed. Oh what speed he had.

Who has been rugby's greatest ever player?

Whilst I agree with Lindsay below, regarding Nepia, Scott and Cullen being considered above Don Clarke as a fullback, he is in my opinion one of the few rugby players that can claim to have amassed a Bradmanesque stature at the time, with the records to match.

When Clarke retired from Test rugby his points scoring world record was 209. Putting that into context, the man in 2nd place at the time (Jean Prat of France) had 90 points, less than half of Clarke’s total. That disparity must have astounded the rugby world of the time and I can well imagine the awe in which he would have been held.

Who has been rugby's greatest ever player?

I’d like to see a source for the claim that Sir TP McLean rated Cullen above Nepia. Of all the articles and books I’ve read on that subject, McLean always regarded Nepia as the pre-eminent fullback above all others, foreign and domestic.

McLean was a major contributor to the most definitive ranking I’ve seen, in regards to All Blacks greatness (TRIBUTE, 2001 by Paul Verdon), Nepia (3rd) ranks far above Cullen (20th) and just ahead of Bob Scott (6th).

Who has been rugby's greatest ever player?

On the contrary, it’d be more difficult to find evidence to refute their quality.

The record speaks for itself. 60 matches for the All Blacks (36 for Hunter and 24 for Deans) and 69 tries (48 for Hunter and 21 for Deans) not to mention the truckloads of tries scored by the wingers and fullbacks on their outsides. Isn’t this what you’d want from a midfield combination?

Not to say that I would claim them as our finest midfield, as I tend more towards Nicholls and Cooke, but like I say, a fine argument could be made for Hunter and Deans.

Remembering those who significantly changed rugby

“there may well have been large blockbusting midfielders through the history of rugby”

Sheek refers to the 1905 All Blacks in this very article. The main centre combination for that team was Jimmy Hunter (Taranaki) and Bob Deans (Canterbury). It is no coincidence that there has often been a preference for a hammer/sickle balance to the midfield (think Robertson/Osborne, Nonu/Smith, Bunce/Little) in All Blacks teams. Hunter and Deans were the first notable pairing in this manner. Deans was a strapping bloke over 6ft tall and 85kg (a big man for his era). A fine agument could be made that this centre pairing could be considered the best the All Blacks have ever had.

Remembering those who significantly changed rugby

It’s a nice story, but the All Blacks had a hooker in the 1950s that laid more of a claim to being the prototype of the “modern” hooker than Fitzpatrick did. Fitzpatrick was simply better at executing a template already laid out decades before.

Obviously I consider Fitzpatrick to be a greater player than Ron Hemi, but as I’ve been arguing, sometimes we throw around terms like “redefined” and “revolutionised” too haphazardly.

Remembering those who significantly changed rugby

Nepia had no remit.

He was a tackler, first and last. His legacy and fame was built on the fact that he played fullback in EVERY match of an entire tour (Wednesday, Saturday, Wednesday etc) at he age of 19 and never made a defensive error. Not one missed tackle, not one dropped ball or missed line kick for touch.

That was his remit, as defined by his “General” Mark Nicholls. He was told point-blank by Nicholls that he was not to enter the backline on attack. Your job was to stop the other team from scoring.

I am interested to know, however how Nepia came to be revered as an attacking fullback? Over time and as evidenced on the Roar today, there seems to be a (erroneous in all my readings on the subject) perception that he was some sort of all singing all dancing fullback

Where did this perception come from? All the literature on Nepia refers to him as a crash tackling “Guardian of the Gate” who bowled attackers like “skittles” with little reference to any overt attacking prowess.

Remembering those who significantly changed rugby

Very reminiscent of Jonah in this regard. There were better First Five-eighths before and after Barry John, as there were wingers before and after Lomu, but it was the stage on which they performed (in New Zealand against the All Blacks and in the Rugby World Cup, respectively), which magnified the impact of those performances.

Remembering those who significantly changed rugby

Nobody wants to say it, but I have never shied away from the debate… the same applied to Jonah.

Remembering those who significantly changed rugby

It depends. There have been many players through rugby history who have displayed “new” or “revolutionary” aspects to their position, but weather they provided a lasting change is much more open to conjecture.

I think sometimes we proclaim players doing things better and on a more consistent basis, to have redefined or revolutionised their position, when others who had preceded them had done the same or similar, but maybe not quite to the same extent and impact.

Offloading, in the modern vernacular, is as old as the hills but apparently Sonny Bill Williams has revolutionised the game.

I contend that the modifications to the Laws of the game have made more of a shift to the way the game was played than any handful of fine players. In this respect, it’s the coaches and administrators that have driven change in the game more than anything. The different types of players and skill-sets have always been available, but it’s their adaptability to exploit and push the boundaries of the Laws which make the game bend and again drive the next generation of evolution and, sometimes, devolution.

Remembering those who significantly changed rugby

Exactly. What offseason? Top 14, Aviva Premiership etc

To paraphrase Dr. Emmett Brown… offseason? In rugby, we don’t need offseason.

Union Saffa watches league to survive the off-season