Saturday, August 12

Taranaki rugby 1956-57

Members of the Taranaki rugby team from 1956 and 1957 (front, from left) Tom Murfitt, Joe McCullough, Roger Boon, Bill Cameron, Brendan O'Neill, Eric Keith, Kevin Briscoe, (middle row, from left) Ray Potier (selector), Ross Brown, Les Marshall, Ian Macdonald, John Mackie John Bayly, (back row, from left) Peter Burke, Walter Dudley and Bill Orr. NIC GIBSON/Taranaki Daily News

Longtime rugby heroes pack down again 12 August 2006
By GLENN MCLEANThe passing of half a century has failed to dampen the passion of players from two of Taranaki's greatest rugby sides.
The men from 1956, who held the Springboks to an impressive 3-3 draw, and the 1957 side which ended Otago's short reign with the Ranfurly Shield, are being honoured this weekend at a reunion in New Plymouth.
Most of the men, who performed in front of crowds that today cannot be matched at Yarrow Stadium, still vividly remember the 80 minutes the might of South African rugby stood in front of them.
Yesterday, as many of those men came together, captain Peter Burke recalled moments of the match with the precision of a quizmaster.
"While we lost a few tightheads, we matched them in every other department," he said. "It was a terrific performance, one I would compare with Taranaki beating Canterbury up here a couple of years ago."
Even so, it's a match that still holds a degree of frustration, anger and regret from those who wore amber and black, and for the crowd of 21,000.
A matter of inches was all that separated winger Tom Murfitt from scoring the match-winning try, as he slid over a saturated dead-ball line.
Springbok Jan Pickard's try also furrows the brow of Burke and his team, who maintain the lock was offside when he reached over to score.
But it was the action of Springbok manager Dannie Craven in awarding Poverty Bay referee, a man who went by the name of Wolstenholme, that brought the most anger.
"He (Craven) gave him a gold watch for being the best referee they had," fullback John Bayly said.
"It wasn't until later that we found out Wolstenholme was a South African."
The physical battle also took its toll on August 11, 1956.

"I lost two and a half teeth when I got king hit by (opposite) Chris Koch," prop Ian Macdonald said.
There were also memories of the terrible conditions, when players were forced to change in ankle-deep water in the back of the old wooden stand.
Just a year later, most of the side that lined up against the Springboks were heading south to end Otago's Ranfurly reign with a 11-9 win. "It was a lot easier than the score says," Macdonald said. "We had it all over them."
That triumph started a shield era lasting until late 1959.

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