This documentary follows the then world champion All Blacks on a 1989 tour of Wales and Ireland. With star winger John Kirwan as guide, 'The All Black Film Unit' gives a players’ insight into an international tour in pre-professional, pre-media trained times — there’s even a plate of oranges. Match, training, and travel footage is complemented by relaxed encounters with players (Zinzan Brooke mounting a shetland pony has entered rugby folklore). Producer Ric Salizzo repeated the recipe — sports fandom mixed with schoolboy pratfalls — in the successful Sports Cafe series.
This 1968 segment from an early Sunday night magazine show provides light-hearted visuals for a classic Kiwi song. Though written by Rod Derrett as a parody, 'Rugby, Racing and Beer' became an unofficial national anthem of the 60s, where it was an icon of the Kiwi male's recreational trio of choice. The clip takes the perspective of a "little shaver" being educated in his national heritage by various footy-playing, boozing'n'betting paternal role models (aka blokes afflicted with 'Kiwiitis'). The early New Zealand music video finishes with scenes of packed terraces at Athletic Park.
This excerpt from a post-war NFU newsreel begins at Eden Park for a match between Auckland and the ‘Kiwis’ (the army’s NZEF team), then goes on a jaunty ride through all-things rugby in NZ: from 1st XV (Wellington College), club and provincial (Ranfurly Shield in the Southland rain) clashes, to boot-making and badge selling on match day, with rugby’s centrality to the Kiwi psyche underlined throughout. “Rugby’s never over, though the crowds stream home from Eden Park or any place we play, to fans and players alike it will always be a part of our national life!”
Men of the Silver Fern was a four-part celebration of all things All Black, made in 1992 for the centenary of the NZRFU (now known as New Zealand Rugby). This first episode covers the early period from when Charles Monro kicked off the sport in NZ in Nelson on 14 May 1870, through the establishment of rules, provincial unions and the New Zealand Rugby Football Union. The programme surveys the front-running international tours — from the 1884 Flaxlanders to the 1888 Natives, 1905 Originals and 1924 Invincibles — where the All Blacks’ "winning reputation" was forged.
The second episode of this 1992 celebration of New Zealand rugby looks at the period from 1925 - 1956, as depression and war affected the national game. Scrum rules changed — outlawing the wing forward position, pioneered by the Kiwis — and NZ found itself chasing the pack: the no-longer-invincible All Blacks regularly came out losers playing against South Africa. The Springbok was finally felled in a series by the Kiwis in 1956 (played at home in front of huge, manic crowds). All Black Peter Jones famously summed it up the achievement post match: “I’m absolutely buggered”.
This third episode of Men of the Silver Fern follows the fortunes of the All Blacks from 1956 to 1978. In 1956 the All Blacks had beaten the Springboks by playing a conservative ’10-man’ game, but they faced criticism for their dour pragmatism. A decade later the backs were back: coach Fred ‘The Needle’ Allen based his triumphant turn at the helm of the All Blacks on expressive, running rugby. This episode follows the All Blacks’ ongoing mission to win a series in South Africa, and achieve a ‘grand slam’ of victories over the home unions on a tour of the UK.
This final edition of the 1992 celebration of New Zealand Rugby runs from grand slam success to the cusp of the professional era. But in-between, rugby and politics combusted. When the Springboks, representing apartheid South Africa, toured NZ in 1981, barbed wire, flour bombs and riot police were match fixtures. Kiwis were either for or against. The tour’s aftermath and public disillusionment with the sport found relief in 1987, when the All Blacks won the first Rugby World Cup; three undefeated years followed. Three NZRFU centennial tests close the series.
In this excerpt from One World of Sport’s coverage of the second test of the 1994 French tour, time is almost up: Philippe Saint-Andre gathers the ball from 80 metres out, with his team trailing the All Blacks 16-20. Keith Quinn comments, "they have to chance their arm here." Nine pairs of hands and a ruck later, Jean-Luc Sadourny scores to seal the series, and cap off a magnificent medley of draw-and-pass rugby and angled running lines — the so-called "try from the end of the world". As of 2016 the All Blacks hadn't lost a game at Eden Park since.
The theatre of sport is given full-blown operatic treatment in this National Film Unit classic. Footage from the French 1979 rugby tour of New Zealand is rendered in slow-motion and cut to a Tchaikovsky score. The result is an often glorious, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, paean to rugby. Balletic lineouts, driving tackles, and the dark mysteries of the ruck, make for a ballsy Swan Lake in the mud. It includes the Bastille Day French victory over the All Blacks. Directed by NFU stalwart Arthur Everard, it won a jury prize at the Montreal World Film Festival.
In this interview before the 2007 Rugby World Cup, All Black flanker Jerry Collins visits Trust Porirua Park, where he started playing rugby at the age of 11 for Norths RFC (other ex members include Hika Reid, and Christian Cullen). Collins, who was widely known as a hard-hitting and physical player, discusses how "getting smashed" was part of the game from the beginning: "I became good at it. Then I became good at doing it to other people”. He also reveals what he thinks about during the national anthem and haka. Collins and his partner Alana Madill died in a car crash in June 2015.