April 30 - 1946 'Kiwis' win 1946 Llanelly Sevens

The NZEF “Kiwis” tour finished at Paris on March 31 when they beat L’lle de France 24 – 13. Back at the Fernleaf Club in London there was time to fill in until a ship could be found for the trip home. Some played a few games of club rugby at Torquay. Fred Allen and Herb Cook struck up a relationships with the Osterley RFC, resulting in the “Kiwis” playing a very unofficial but most enjoyable match against that club shortly before their departure.

Other team members formed a Sevens team and entered some tournaments. They came up short in the Middlesex Sevens, beaten in their semi-final by Cardiff. One of the Cardiff side was Dai Davies, later a hooker with the 1950 Lions in New Zealand, playing with a boot plastered over to protect a broken toe. To the embarrassment of the New Zealanders Davies, plastered boot and all, scuttled away from them to score the winning try.

The “Kiwis” also played in the Llanelly Sevens, for the Colville Cup, on April 30 1946. They romped through, beating RAF Pembrey 26 – 6, Felinfoel 28 – 0 and Gowerton 30 – 7 in the final. The team was given a great time by their Welsh hosts and hence were a day or two late getting back to London, throwing arrangements for a team photo, made in their absence, into confusion. Management were not amused: “You should have known better” one of the three Lieutenants in the Sevens side was told.

It says something about the “Kiwis” camaraderie, team spirit, democratic nature, perhaps of the New Zealand character, that this Army Sevens team was, surprisingly, captained by Johnny Simpson. Surprising not because of any lack of playing or leadership ability on Simpson’s part. But he was an Army private in a team containing three officers and was still felt suitable for the captain’s role.

The Cup that Johnny Simpson brought back to New Zealand is inscribed “LLANELLY RUGBY 7 ASIDE TOURNAMENT 1946 WINNERS 2 NZEF (KIWIS) RUGBY TEAM”.