September 30 - 1950 end of Ranfurly Shield Merry-go-round

1950 was a season like no other with five different unions, Otago, Canterbury, Wairarapa, South Canterbury and finally North Auckland holding the Shield, setting all sorts of records along he way. Three, Canterbury, Wairarapa and South Canterbury lost the Shield in their first defence. And North Auckland’s win came on September 30, the last possible date on which a challenge could be played.

North Auckland captain Johnny Smith

North Auckland wing Nau Paora Cherrington

South Canterbury 9 — North Auckland 20

30 September 1950

North Auckland’s £1,000 gamble paid off! Determined to secure a challenge, the Northern union had fought for the right and was finally given this last possible date. An interesting sidelight is the fact that after the British Isles had beaten North Auckland 8-6—somewhat unfairly, as many thought Johnny Smith had scored a good try—the North Auckland captain, remarking on the fact that no player from his union had been selected for the Fourth Test, said: “To prove our point I predict that we will beat Auckland twice and win the Ranfurly Shield!” The outcome —on 2 September, North Auckland beat Auckland at Whangarei, 22-16, and won the return match on 16 September, 31-21, and now, for the first time, had won the Ranfurly Shield. The cost of the air-flight and other expenses was £1,000.

The weather was fine and the ground in good order, and a record crowd of 18,000 packed into Fraser Park, Timaru. They were rewarded with a great display of accomplished football, the North Auckland backs revealing perfect combination. The vanguard played an open game, giving their backs ample ball from scrum and lineout. The challengers always looked the winners and could well have achieved a wider margin of points. The scoring comprised two tries each and five penalties. lsaacs opened with a penalty after 14 minutes. 0-3. Eleven minutes later, Paewai sent the ball along the backline, Dunn racing up to make an extra link, giving Beazley the overlap for a fine try. 0-6. Jack Goddard a penalty. 3-6. Right on halftime Cherrington kicked two penalties to make the score 3-12.

Again the Northern backline spun the ball, Cherrington racing down the sideline and then centreing; Johnny Smith was right up, to fall on the ball and score, converting his own try. 3-17. Isaacs another penalty. 3-20. Green received the ball, sent out to Doherty who put in a short kick, which Taylor chased to be first to touch down for a try.

6-20. Right on time Senior booted ahead and Dunn fumbled near the posts, Corner dribbling the ball clear to score. 9-20.

South Canterbury: The only change was the replacement of G. Cormack by I. F. Paterson. Early in the game J. A. Senior replaced Jock Bryce.

North Auckland: E. F. Dunn; N. P. Cherrington*, J. B. Smith* (capt.), B. W. Beazley; P. Smith, G. H. Perrin; Dr M. N. Paewai;

T. W. McHugh, P. F. Jones, C. F. McRae, I. L. Fraser, J. W. Isaacs, F. J. A. Baume, I. B. Irvine, E. A. Martin. (Selector Mr E. Griffin.)

The referee was Mr J. G. Fitzpatrick of Wellington.

Cherrington, Peter Smith and Dr Paewai were members of the New Zealand Maori team.

Morrie Goddard was making his 106th appearance in first-class Rugby since 1942, this total including 33 for South Canterbury, 33 for New Zealand Services teams, and 20 for New Zealand.

This was the 18-year-old Peter Jones’ first season.

Apart altogether from the surprising nature of the season’s Ranfurly Shield matches, several records were established. Five different unions held the shield during the one season. For the first time the shield had journeyed back and forth between the islands twice in the one season. For the first time in a season, three holders lost the shield to the first challenger. Actually only twice previously had this happened at all, Auckland losing at the first challenge in 1904, and Southland in 1938. Two unions won the shield for the first time, and for the first time two holders failed to score when trying to ward off a challenge.”

From “Ranfurly Shield Rugby” by A H Carman. Published 1960, revised 1967 by A H & A W Reed, p 172-173.

“South Canterbury’s euphoria was to last a fortnight for on the last Saturday of September it faced the formidable challenge of North Auckland which had finally got its way. North Auckland was much too good, as most people had anticipated, and duly won 20-9. But South Canterbury at least had the distinction of scoring two tries, the same number as North Auckland. And had the luck bounced South Canterbury’s way it might even have sneaked a victory. But early in the match a crucial kick was missed and then one of its best forwards, lock Jock Bryce, was forced off with an injury. But Mitchell (South Canterbury coach ‘Brushy’ Mitchell) says South Canterbury could have few regrets. “A small union like that wouldn’t have been able to hold the shield for too long,” he says. “But they had a crowd of 18,000 for that North Auckland match and the gate put the union on its feet for a few years. They were able to do a lot of overdue work on their ground at Fraesr Park like putting in adequate toilets and so on.”

Coaching North Auckland was Ted Griffin, a brawny lock forward of the 1930s who had represented Hawke’s Bay and Wellington and who, in 1950, was in the early years of what was to become a legendary association with North Auckland representative sides. In the years to follow Griffin would achieve further milestones with North Auckland, including another two shield wins in 1960 and 1971, but that experience in 1950 would always occupy a special place, particularly the response of the North Auckland public. The bus ride back north after the team had landed with the shield at Whenuapai, he later recalled, was “the most colourful and exciting occasion in my whole life.”

He added: “We were stopped and feted at Puhoi, Warkworth, Wellsford, Waipu. There had even been fans waiting for us at Whenuapai. And when we finally arrived in Whangarei, hours late, it seemed as if the whole population of the north had turned out. The players assembled on the balcony of the Whangarei Hotel and proudly showed off the shield. It was a rousing experience, certainly the most emotional occasion I have ever known in connection with rugby.

So the most turbulent, topsy-turvy year, shield rugby had known had come to an end with the shield reposing for yet another summer almost a thousand miles away from where it had started the season. North Auckland’s reign was to be a short one, for in the third challenge of the 1951 season a big kicking teenaged prodigy named Don Clarke booted two big goals out of a Rugby Park quagmire to give Waikato a 6-3 win. But at least North Auckland had the consolation of knowing its $2000 gamble in going to South Canterbury in 1950 had paid off, The three matches of 1951 against Bay of Plenty, Thames Valley and Waikato had brought in gate receipts well in excess of $13,000. And more important than the money perhaps it had cemented its rugby tradition.”

From “SHIELD FEVER” by Lindsay Knight. Pub. 1980 by Rugby Press Ltd p 80.