January 24 - 1946 'Kiwis' frolic in Glasgow snow

After their first loss (to Scotland) in their last match, then two postponements because of the weather, faced with a snow covered ground, bitter cold and with six players in bed with the ‘flu, no one knew what to expect when the “Kiwis” met Scottish Universities.

No matter the conditions were bad, the “Kiwis” ran and passed, safely, with gay abandon, scoring twelves tries in, considering the conditions, a remarkable exhibition.

Eric Boggs treasured the whiskey

“17th Match,

Scottish Universities, at Old Anniesland Ground, Glasgow

This match was to have been played the previous Wednesday but the ground was frozen hard, so it was decided to postpone it until the Tuesday following the Scottish game. The frosts continued, so again there had to be a postponement. It was feared that it would have to be abandoned, but a thaw came on the Tuesday night, and it was decided to play on the Wednesday. The‘”boys” weren’t advised—according to my diary—until 9.15 on the Wednesday morning that the game was on. A ‘bus was chartered, and off we started for Glasgow—a 1½ hours’ drive. Snow was falling, and the whole countryside from Edinburgh to Glasgow was blanketed white. We lunched at the Glasgow University—still snowing—and then off to Old Anniesland Ground – still snowing.

The snow stopped, and we were treated to a real, raw Scot’s day. Charlie Saxton had left Edinburgh with one or two others per car, but they hadn’t arrived when the game started at 2.30 p.m. We got a shock when we saw the ground covered in four inches of snow. Touch-line, goal-lines—yes, all lines had been marked out by cutting into the snow.

There were ten changes in the “Kiwi” team—five backs and five forwards. Ingpen played his first game, giving Haigh a well-earned rest. Actually Haigh, Simpson, Argus, Smith, Rhind, McPhail, were in bed in Edinburgh with the ‘flu.

I don’t think anyone was very happy about having to play in the conditions. Nobody had yet played in snow, so no one knew how such a game should be played. Most of the party were expecting a terrific forward struggle, with nobody game enough say he thought the “Kiwis” would win. The “boys” missed Saxton’s talk before the game, and we all sat in the stand—I wasn‘t broadcasting this day owing to the two postponements and the short notice—ready- to “take it again” if necessary.

The first item of note was Ingpen going across the line but being recalled. A few minutes later the forwards set up a rush, and this time Ingpen made no mistake about- scoring, and the “Kiwis” were 3 up. Scott missed his kick (3-0).

The University forwards then got going and took play to the “Kiwi” line; but a clearing kick from between his own posts by Scott was taken on the University left wing by “Duggie“ Smith and he crashed through for a good try (3-3). The ground was still frozen under the snow as many of the team could vouch for afterwards. The ball was, of course, icy and slippery, so we could be excused for not expecting anyone to handle decently. Our mistake! From now on we were treated to the most amazing exhibition of Rugby football I think anyone has ever seen. No more than five times for the rest of the game was a “Kiwi” pass dropped by either back or forward. Edwards threw the ball at Allen from everywhere, and the mercurial ‘‘Freddie” had the time of his life. Dobson and Meates too did everything they’d ever dreamed of doing on a football field. I’ll never forget one incident: Allen was taking a spell about the half-way line by the side-line on the right wing, with about five almost exhausted opponents by him. Somebody, I forget who, came along with the ball and passed it to Allen. He looked very surprised to get it—very surprised—particularly when five opponents made a grab at him. Then the fun started. Allen poked the ball in turn at the five of them. Satisfied they were no longer a danger, he pivoted and stepped infield—right into the arms of two more; he dummied one, side-stepped the other:

and then off he went for the line, side-stepping and dummying everyone in his path. He scored a try, one of the most amazing. Dobson, too, scored a beauty, going from one side of the field to the other and, as most of the “boys’’ say, ‘‘was so bewildered that he passed to himself near the line before scoring.” Scott converted nine tries and kicked a penalty—not bad in the snow. Tries were scored by Dobson (3), Allen (2), Meates (2), Boggs (2), Sherratt, Young and Ingpen. The half-time score was 23-3; and the final 57-3.”

From “Broadcasting with the Kiwis” by Winston McCarthy. Pub. By Sporting Publications 1947. P. 63-64.

Twenty Five Years On.

“After the game, the Kiwis were each presented with a bottle of whisky which was a gesture that defied the old myth that the Scots are a stingy lot! Eric Boggs packed his bottle safely and securely in his kitbag. If ever he had a son, he decided, the bottle would be ceremoniously opened when the boy turned 21.

And so it happened when Graham Boggs achieved ‘his majority’ 25 years later. Dad and Graham had a quiet ‘toast’ to each other! It was pretty special.”

From “KHAKI ALL BLACKS” by Mike Whatman. Pub.2005 by Hodder, Moa, Beckett. P. 66.