Some of the great names of international rugby can be seen both playing and reminiscing in this hour long history of British and Irish Lions tours of New Zealand. 1930 Lion Harry Bowcott is the oldest player here, conceding his side were surprised by the toughness of the New Zealand style of rugby; tough like 1950 All Black captain Ron Elvidge, who came back on to crash through a tackle and score a try, despite a fractured sternum and stitches in his head. The documentary concludes with Gavin Hastings’ 1993 Lions team. It was made as a preview for the 2005 tour.
Highlights from the second test of the 1966 Lions tour feature in this National Film Unit newsreel. Soundly beaten in the first test, the Lions took drastic steps for this match at Wellington’s Athletic Park: dropping six players including their captain. On a muddy ground, with the capital’s wind playing its part, the Lions are more competitive — but the All Blacks run out deserved winners with tries to Kel Tremain, Tony Steel and a rampant Colin Meads (but no on-field celebrating). Half-back (future MP and radio announcer) Chris Laidlaw also figures prominently.
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 TVNZ production screened at the end of 1989, just before the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Filmed at Government House, presenter Ian Johnstone oversees passionate kōrero as a panel of youngsters, academics and Māori and Pākehā elders debate the place of New Zealand’s founding document. Don Selwyn and Angela D’Audney explore its history, and Sir Paul Reeves begins by musing on chief Te Kemara’s famous about-turn, when, after first opposing the Treaty, he turned to Hobson and said: “How d’ye do Mr Governor”.
This National Film Unit newsreel offers a wide-ranging look at ‘the national game’ in 1966. A muddy potted history (scored to rugby folk song ‘On the Ball’) rakes from the age grades to a Ranfurly Shield match, to the apex: the All Blacks. Ex-All Black fullback Bob Scott talks about the need for ‘four stone bantams’ to enjoy the game, while fellow AB Don ‘The Boot’ Clarke discusses the problems for a country player; Wellington College’s 1st XV plays a ‘traditional’ against Nelson in front of a mass haka on the terraces; and club players explain why they play (“it’s a manly game”).
A Political Game charts not only intense rugby rivalry between South Africa and New Zealand, but also the politics of racism that came increasingly to the fore. The signs were there during the Springboks first tour of New Zealand in 1921: a South African reporter was outraged white New Zealanders had supported a Māori side. In 1976 an All Black tour of South Africa sparked an African boycott of the Montreal Olympics; the 1981 tour saw violent protests. Starting with the historic All Blacks win in 1996, this excerpt jumps back in time to chart conflicts on and off the field, up until 1949.
This 1966 NFU film shows highlights of the fourth rugby test between the touring British Lions and New Zealand's All Blacks. Filmed in the days before live telecast of home matches (it was feared attendance would be affected) the Eden Park test features some classical rucking and free-flowing back-line play. A broken collarbone reduces the Lions to 14 men early on (injury replacements were not allowed) and the All Blacks prevail 24-11. Coached by Fred Allen, a great AB line-up (the Meads bros, Tremain, Nathan, Gray, Lochore) won the series 4-0.
Peter Montgomery’s colourful and vibrant commentaries made him “the voice of New Zealand yachting”. Through the 1980s and 1990s, Montgomery played a major part in the sport’s move to mass popularity and had a central role in radio and TV coverage of Team New Zealand’s America’s Cup campaigns. On dry land, he has covered many other sports, and made the Eden Park side-line his own over two decades of rugby commentaries.