THERE are times when a man has to be a terrible enthusiast to take more than a superficial interest in a football match. One of those occasions was last Saturday at the Athletic Park. The southerly breeze that prevailed was cold enough to chill the marrow in ones bones, and a rattling good exposition or the Rugby game, in which much passing, fine tackling and excellent dribbling rushes were the order of the day, might have helped the spectators to work up sufhcient enthusiasm to counteract the influence and effects or the breeze. But, neither of the two games played at the Athletic Park was sufficient to prevent us, who have been tnrouga the hurly-burly ourselves, from acknowledging the fact that we are getting old— a twinge of rheumatism here and there dispelling our illusions that if we only had the opportunity we could show some of the present-day players how the game should be played. By force of example, I mean. The medium of the newspaper however, is open to some of us, and it is a much easier way of giving the necessary advice. Not that lam going to do so on this occasion, but the thought has come to me as the result of some of my recent reading. • • * The Athletic— Oriental game was expected by many people to give a fair indication of the winner of the senior championship this season. But I cannot help saying that neither team showed sufficient form to entitle them to rank as champions, though they may attain that position. Possibly the wind, through keeping the play all on one side of the field, may have militated against a good showing, but the fact remains that at no stage of the game did the play rise above mediocrity, and for the most part consisted mainly of indiscriminate scrambles in various parts of the field. Generally, there are many instances in a game that remain with me after it is over and done with, but it is an effort for me to recall any especial feature in connection with the game under review, and lam not going to tax my memory on this occasion. The try secured by Orsborne that won the game for Athletic, was the result of a good dash by Jock Cunningham. The score was such a long while coming that it seemed very probable that a drawn game would be the final result, and, therefore, I would not have been at all surprised if the try that was awarded Athletics had been disallowed. From where I was standing, Cunningham seemed to throw the ball forward when he was tackled on the line, and it was fully six feet from where he fell to where the try was scored, so that, although the Athletics had considerably the better of the later stages of the play, the only score they obtained was in the nature of a lucky one. n • * The Victoria College— Wellington match was remarkable mainly for the varying styles of play by the competitors. Here you would notice a piece that would do credit to, I was going to say, an "All Black," but I will content myself with saying a representative player. Then something would happen that a junior player would blush to be found guilty of. and these features of play would agam be interspersed with something between the two that was a fair sample of senior football. For instance, the first try scored by Victoria College was the result of some excellent passing among the backs, every man delivering and receiving his pass in correct style, but whenever they tried' the same means of attack during the following stages of the game they were seldom convincing, and ofttimes very weak. The Wellingtons gave me the impression that they were a team of plodders, the only outstanding feature of there game being the fine work done by their full-back, and by several of the forwards on the line-out. • • • The following is the result of the various matches: Athletic 3 (try by Orsborne), Oriental 0; Wellington 16
(tries by Symes, Wilson, Callum and Abercrombie, Sellars converting two of them into goals), Victoria College 10 (tries by A. Bogle and G. Bogle, the latter making two goals out of the tries); Poneke 9 (tries by Tresize, Wogan and Tilyard), St. James 8 (tries by Neilsen and Crewes, the former converted by Crewes) , Petone 14 (tries by Read (2) and Hardham M. Ryan converting one, besides kicking a penalty goal), Melrose 3 (penalty goal by Gilchrist). • • • The Wellington Rugby Union cannot be congratulated on its decision to suspend Tom Cross for the remainder of the present season for having attempted to strike an opponent during the progress of the Petone — St. James match, on Saturday week. If they wanted it, evidence in plenty could have been obtained that the Petone player was provoked beyond endurance in being kicked while he was on the ground, and his retaliation was only what human nature would be expected to do under the circumstances. In the ordinary law courts of the colony provocation is always treated as a palliation in a case of assault, and similar methods should prevail with a Rugby Union. If what I hear is correct, that the referee says that Cross struck his opponent, his view of the happening must have been a restricted! one, for the blow_ aimed by the .fetone player did not take effect on the player it was intended for, or any other player for the matter of that. The New Zealand Union have been referring back suspensions to the different unions because they have not been heavy enough for the offences the players were charged with. Here is a case in the other direction. A positive injustice has been done a player. Are they prepared to ask for a rehearing, or, at least, a remission of the greater portion of the sentence? • <* Mr. D. D. Weir, in his position as a delegate, asked the Wellington Rugby Union to request answers to the following questions from Mr. H R. Wright, who, at the time of the letter being written, was a member of the Committee : — (1) Did he represent Canterbury on the Selection Committee which met recently and selected the professional Rugby football team? (2) Are Messrs. Byrne, Cross, Wright and Tyne, members of the Petone Club, included m the same team ? Up to the present these questions have not been put to Mr. Wright, but if the Wellington Union are desirous of assisting its head body m the action it has taken in regard to this professional team they should comply with Mr. Weir's request. The rumours that are travelling round the town, and the definite statements that have been published in different papers throughout the colony, have assumed sufficient importance for even the New Zealand Rugby Union to take some cognisance of. Will they, in this instance, direct the Wellington Rugby Union to ask the questions mentioned! m this paragraph ? It is all very well for gentlemen like G. F. C. Campbell and R. M. Isaacs to tel a press interviewer that the New Zealand Rugby Union trusts the men, and to state that the fact that they have signed the declaration they asked them to is sufficient for them. But, wbat was the declaration worth, and what action will the New Zealand Union take if any of those who signed it signify their intention of touring with the professional team? George Tyler, the Auckland "All Black" hooker, has definitely retired. Thus an Auckland confrere : — 'Tyler s retirement will be universally regretted. For the last eight years he has played in representative football. He is one of the trtle, clean, healthy type of athletes, who play for pure love of the game. Men of Tyler's stamp have made Rugby what it is in New Zealand to-day. Honoured by the King himself, George Tyler carries with him the admiration and respect of not only every Rugger enthusiast in this wonderful dominion of ours, but will find a place m the annals of British and Australian history of the game." All of which I cordially endorse. There is not a solitary person who has met "Bubsie" Tyler either on or off the field who has not had a good word to say for him, and all his opponents are proud to call him friend. The fact that the British team went out of their way to pay him a compliment shows the respect the men led by Bedel-Sivwright had for the quiet Aucklander. They invited him specially to accompany them on their trip to Rotorua as the guest of the team, and he was the only player in New Zealand so honoured. Verily, Tyler was a player the colony, and Auck-
land in particular, could be proud of, for, with all his undoubted powers on the field, he is the most unassuming man I know, and the one that gets George Tyler to tell all he knows about the Rugby game in New Zealand will confer a favour on many people who would like to read anecdotes from his lips. At the dinner to the British team on the night of the match played in Wellington, I was one of a party at a small table that included George Tyler, Billy Wallace, and Charlie Seeling. Elated with the win, perhaps — for George's temperance habits are so well known that it could not have been anything else — he became very communicative, and it was really entertaining the way Wallace and he reminiscenced over incidents in matches in which they had both taken part. It was the most enjoyable dinner I ever attended, and I have often longed since for an opportunity to get the quiet Aucklander going again. • • *
• • * Hawke's Bay play Auckland for the Ranfurly Shield on the 10th of August. Southland and Otago play their first match this season on the 21st August. The "All Black" professional team leaves Wellington for London on the 18th August, by the s.s. lonic, according to an inspired writer in an Auckland paper. "Play up, North Shore !" one of the cries heard at the Athletic Park last Saturday, was proof positive that an ex-Aucklander was taking more than a passing interest in the Oriental — Athletic match. "A pretty warm Auckland team should be available for the Southern tour next month, despite the fact that nine of our best men will be en route to England." — This Auckland writer seems to know more than most people about the professional team. "Buff" McPike, the old Auckland representative who played a few matches for the Wellington Club many years ago, was a member of the Buller team that played against Auckland. But, judging by his display in that game, McPike is a light of other days. I thought Arthur Wilson had retired from the game, but, against Victoria College last Saturday, he seemed as persistent as ever in his breaking away from the line-out, the main feature of his play in the days when he was a Wellington representative. Joll, who was a member of the New Zealand team in Durban, South Africa, for some years, and previous to that played for the Sydenham Club in Christchurch, was playing front rank with Callum in the Wellington Club's team last Saturday. I cannot say that I noticed him any more than his fellow packmen. Several ex-Aucklanders now resident in Wellington are wondering if the Twiname now showing good form in Auckland is any relation of the Frank Twiname who used to be one of the heavy-weight forwards in the old Graf ton team. Perhaps an Auckland writer will oblige Norreys Yon Stunner, the old Grafbon threequarter, and several of his contemporaries now in Wellington. The fact that Mitchinson scored three tries against Australia last Saturday brings to mind the fact that the only other New Zealand representative to score three tries in a match in Sydney was also a Poneke Club player — "Cocky" Roberts, to wit. It will be remembered that he went to Sydney as the reserve in the 1897 team, and it was in the third match against New South Wales that he demonstrated his powers as a scoring man. An Auckland writer: — "I am very much afraid, however, that the information on which that statement [Edgar Wylie's that no member of the present New Zealand team would 1 participate in the professional tour Home] is based is not reliable, since nine of the team in Australia are already members of the professional team, while two others were willing to go, but their claims were not considered sufficient to warrant their inclusion." ( Continued on page 20. )
(Continued from page LUj. Evidently Charlie Slattery, the exPoneke player, is going to be a veteran before he retires. He is playing this season for the Port Chalmers team in the Otago Rugby Union's championships, and his form seems to be the same as of yore. It is said that A. H. Baskerville, "Bumper' Wright, C. Seeling, and W. Johnstone selected the "All Black" professional team. They respectively represented Wellington, Canterbury, Auckland and Otago. Another rumour has it that Paddy Gleeson, a rising barrister and solicitor in Napier, and the eldest son of an ex-Auckland hotel-keeper who is worth a mint of money, has been offered the position of manager of the team. There is trouble between the Auckland and the New Zealand Rugby 'Unions over the Buller match. The latter claims the match to have been a special challenge game for the Ranfurly Shield, while Auckland asserts that it was only one of a series of matches arranged on tour by the Buller Union. Considering that Buller played Wanganui on their way back from Auckland, there would seem to be much in favour of Auckland's con tenton. I notice Mick Sheahan has been interviewed on the matter, and the chairman of the Auckland Union stated that it was not fair to ask them to pay the expenses of whatever team liked "to challenge them for the Ranfurly Shield. I only quote this to mention the fact that if the New Zealand Union carry the day the Auckland people will have to hand over the whole of the gate to that body, and the balance, after paying expences, will be placed towards swelling their profits. There is some nice trouble in store, I'm thinking. * * Skinner and Thomas, of the Poneke and St. James teams respectively, were ordered off the field by the referee last Saturday. The Poneke team were attacking very strongly, and the former made a dive for the line. Thomas tackled him in good style, and the two players came to the ground with the referee underneath them. It is said that the St. James man, for reasons best known to himself, made a punching ball of Skinner, and that the latter took a hand at the same game after he had 1 been made a target of a couple of times. When they condescended to get up off the referee's legs, he ordered them both off the field, the only thing he could do under the circumstances. • * Jock Cunningham, the Athletic player, used to play the Association game, a fact self-evident from the amount of boot he puts behind the ball on occasions. Sometimes, however, he misses the ball, and if it should happen that a player stops his boot on these occasions there will be trouble. Brook Wells paid Cunningham a terrible lot of attention on Saturday, getting a half-Nelson on to him every time he tried to get round the scrummage, and how the referee missed these things puzzled me. The cries from the barrackers of "Play the ball, not the man, Wells!" should have drawn his attention to the fact that something illegal was going on on the opposite side of the scrummage to where he was stationed. "The best full-back playing in Wellington at the present time." This was a remark made to me m the early stages of the play at the Athletic Park last Saturday. The maker of it was, in his day, the finest full-back in the city, and the subject of it was Sellars, the Wellington Club man. I was inclined to doubt the statement, as in previous matches in which I had watched him taking part the ex-Pon-sonby player had not impressed rue wonderfully, but last Saturday he was practically perfect as the Wellington last line of defence, his tackling, stopping, fielding, and kicking being all well done. Sellars must be in the runnng for the full-back position in the "B" team. • • » The list of the rumoured professional team, as published bv me last week, has caused a bit of a stir in local football circles. A point has been put to me in connection with the team, and that is the poor recompense it will be for a young plaver — one who is iust coming into prominence among the representatives — to form part of this team, and have a trip through England with the accompanying series of matches, and being barred from ever again playing; the game in New Zealand Take Wrigley, the Wairarapa player, as a case in point. Here is a young fellow who has his hand within reach of the topmost rung of the ladder of football fame in this colony, and for the next ten years should be full of football Yet, for the chance of this trip (if it i?
true he is going), and the prospect of making a few dollars out of it, his football will be limited to the matches he takes part in in this tour, as he is bound to return to New Zealand directly it is over. I hope in his case better counsels will prevail.
« , ■ Ch. Pld. Wn. Lt. Dwn. For Agst. Pt. 'oneke ..10 7 1 2 137 49 16 'etone ..9 6 1 2 135 37 14 athletic ..10 5 1 4 140 63 14 )riental ..10 6 3 1 129 51 13 lelrose ..10 5 5 0 115 77 10 )ld Boys . . 9 3 5 1 40 147 7 it. James ..9 2 5 2 55 61 6 Wellington ..10 2 6 2 52 128 6 r ictoria Col. 9 0 9 0 23 224 0
The following table shows the position of the various teams contesting the senior championship : —