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General Gossip.

Old Boys had the cheer of their lives when breathing time eventuated on Saturday, the spectators fully recognising their herculean and successful efforts to beat hack the Poneke lads from crossing the White chalkmark. "Even the rants of Tuscanny, etc:," could not fail to join m the great volume of cheering which greeted. Harry Avery and- his pals as they wended their way to the dressingshed. It was a fine tribute and a welldeserved one. On very rare occasions has the bulk ol Park spectators focussed their whole ab--1 tention oh Mo. 2 ground proceedings. Before the Old Boys and Poneke lined up for their second bout, the crowd trekked it from No. 1 ground to the Southern end of No. 2, and the air was quickly charged with vociferous yells ol encouragement to the Whites. The battle between Athletic and Oriental was almost wholly ignored until it was seen that Poneke had its tussle won. The weekly abuse of free passes by some of the whistling brigade at the Athletic Park is as rife as ever. It will form- the subject of pretty plain speaking by delegates when they get. the chance to meet the Rugby ".Union officials m conclave. Correspondence sufficient to keep the destructor furnaces going for a week fias been coming to hand anent the Poneke Club's action m recruiting Slater, Tannahill, and Wilton. Most of it is on a level with the deadly drivel appearing m the daily rags from the pens of such mythical identities as "Ted Wilson" and "Frank Douglas." "Pakeha" desires to intimate that space m "Truth" columns is too valuable to waste by the publication of such outrageously absurd arguments as nave been placed before him by the correspondents m question. I notice that one "Post" correspondent was kind enough to furnish the public with the information that W. Brown was against the Ponekes when it decided to play Tannabill and Slater. Who the devil is W. Brown anyway, that' his opinion should be quoted m the matter V Very few players, perhaps not more than two at the very outside,, know who W. Brown really is, and probably care less. If there is a W. Brown m existence who takes such a keen interest m the club's doings, the club's executive would doubtless experience . a thrill of pleasure at seeing the color of his brass for its gymnasium funds. Swannell, the beauteous scrummager ot Bedell-Sivwright's team, and close pal of Gaily 's, what time the Britishers were doing the Rugby rounds of the Dominion, is having a pretty parlous time of it as the secretary of the N.S.W. Metropolitan Union. Altogether, "Swanny" is reported to have made himself a somewhat obnoxious personage to many associated with the game m Sydney parts this season. Surely "Swanny" hasn't been tutored m his duties and manner by one celebrated N.Z.R.U. official. Is there anything m the rumor that the Inter-Island match is to be played here this season because of the heavy financial responsibilities incurred m loaning the Wellington Rugby Union a few thousands to acquire the Athletic Park for six or seven years, a step brought about by its mad-headed act m giving the Miramar grab-alls £350 for three years to play games at "Siberia" ? The N.Z.R.U. is assured of a, good gate at the Inter-Island match, as the real owner for the time being ol the Athletic Park. And the gate is the be-all and end-all of the boodling brigade which misdirects the Rugby game m the Dominion. W. HARDHAM. He's one of Geartown's Rugby pets, And trains like .blazes you can bet, A great man, Billy, m a rush On sun-baked fields or m the slush, He is a very active man, Who's known to all as Hard-i-ham. Gee whiz, here's a doodle doo from a Sydney dung heap :— "The result .of the game (Wallabies y. Rest of Australia) proves that we m South Wales have players the equal of any other part of the world." In the Rand wick-Manly junior grade grade match a few weeks ago, one of the players was ordered off by the referee, but persisted m joining m the game as soon as it was re-started. He did this on three occasions. On the last he got mixed up with some of his opponents, and boots and fists flew about promiscuous-like. Then! the whistle tootj er made a bee-line for the dressing-shed at "Woodger" speed, .leaving the players to argue the point out on their own. In Wellington this week was Fred. Moore, the ex-Athletic Club and Wellington rep. forward of the late eighties. Bred, who is now a sergeant of police stationed at Whang£\rei, was a splendid scrummager of the robust order, and something generally budged when his shoulders got to work. He played a very fine game against Stoddart's -team m that memorable drawn match on the Basin Reserve 21 years ago. Unfortunately, his mission to Wellington on this occasion is a sad one, arising as it does out of the deatjb of a brother. America is only just catching on to Rugby, yet they have their coaches at 1000 dollars a year. Schafer, who was over this way some weeks ago, gets that sum from the California University— so it is said. As I watched the forward combatants m the Athletic-Oriental match, 1 could not help thinking that both divisions would be streets better .for plenty of exercise on tackling quickly and resolutely instead of giving the other side acres of room m which to work clear of danger. Some of the tireless scrummagers are like heels — the "fellows" around them are always "tired." Perhaps that Deans Memorial vote of £50 fathered so sympathetically by George Dixon to the accompaniment of wcepful music settled the Canterbury Union's hash so far as getting the North v. South Island match played m Christchuich was concerned. It seems to have been a cute move on the part of George and his colleagues, for George Mason and "Gun" Garrard voraciously grabbed the bait and were hooked a beaut. In a previous issue I said Ihc N.Z.R.U. would play the game m Wellington, and was only throwing dust m the Canterbury crowd's eye by hanging up the matter from meeting to meeting. 'ihe N.Z.R.U. stands to scoop m anything from £25.0 to £300 and more by paying the match here, so it could well aftord to cajole Mason-Garrard and Co. with a

paltry £50 m return for the larger amount. An ex-Canterbury representative now residing m Auckland says the district system m operation m the Northern city is not viewed very favorably, as it lends itself ' to far too much touting , amongst the migratory players. It is argued that the district scheme is responsible for Auckland's success m the Rugby area m past years, but to the development of the forward of the Fran- . cis-Seeling-Nicholson type since the , Aucklanders' southern invasion of IS«S have kept at the top of the ladder so may perhaps be ascribed their ability to long. A correspondent complains of the objectionable language used m the Park grand stajid Saturday after Saturday within the hearing of ladies. If my correspondent's statements are correct, it is up to the Rugby Union officials to distribute themselves about and endeavor to catch the delinquents. Rugby encounters take a queer turn sometimes across the Tasman. Quite recently Ranawick juniors, after their tussle with Manly at the seaside resort, were honored by a police escort to the boat. Makes one think of the time when "Tucker" Robinson had such a lively reception following on the conclusion of a game at Petone some years ago. "Tucker" had control of the game on that occasion and his decisions were unpalatable to the Gear town crowd, which made frantic ell'orts to tear "Tucker" limb from limb as he wended his way to the station. The "-bluebottles," aided and abetted by the town and suburban combinations, formed a square through which the infuriated mob failed to get at its prey. But "Tucker" never wanted another match at Petone m his "natural." Norman Vercoe, Ories' tull-baclc, has orders from his surgical adviser to take five or six months' respite, which means that this promising young playerywill be. out of action for the remainder of the current season. Vercoe got a kick m the tussle with Porieke, and appearances indicate fluid m the, knee, which has to be nursed very carefully to avoid more serious consequences. Matheson, his clubmate, is hors de combat, though he talks of coming out again m a month or so. If Matheson is well-advised he will take no further risks until his injured ankle is completely better. "From information received," to put it m "peeler" formula, the Northern Wairoa Rugby • Union finds its affairs rather mixed and sultry. A prominent official up that way has been playing up to such an extent as to warrant the Union \ warning him off all grounds under its jurisdiction. Eight inter-Island games have been played since theN.Z'»K.U. came into existence, of which five have been contested m Wellington, and one each m Auckland, Christchurch, and Dunedin. From one cause and another three of the senior teams have lost some sturdy players, temporarily and otherwise, since the competitions were begun. Oriental has to lament the loss of Vercoe and Matheson, Petone is sorely weakened by the absence of Mick Ryan, Corson and Green, while Poneke's defections , have been "Pinky" Reed, Neilson and Shadbolt. Melrose, too, has suffered by the removal of Skipper Dewar to Hawera. Outside Ponsonby and City, the other Auckland district schemes are not only weak, but a long way below recognised senior form. |toewton is going strong for the wooden snpon. Something impossible to overlook when he is playing is Jimmy Ryan's pate m the arena. It seems to bob about like an illuminated ball of lard on the razzledazzle. The cleanest and deadliest tackling seen m any match this season was that exhibited by the Boys against Poneke. The Whites nabbed their man securely almost every time. The crowd was awfully quiet after Poneke got three tries on to the Old Boys, •but it was galvanised into frantic yelling by Jacobsen's try and subsequent conversion.- Then when the Reds responded with another three points if started to make homeward tracks. "You can take it from me that our forwards and backs are playing solid enough to control the game," said an Old Boys' supporter to a Rugby Union official when the half-time adjournment came along at the Park on Saturday. "But can they be depended upon to do so ?" queried the official, "Wouldn't it be a great act if the Reds were beaten." "Oh, ask me something easy," replied the Old Boys' barracker, I'm not a bally prophet." In the lemon-time interval on Saturday one of Wellington's prominent players m the Park dressing-room vigorously brushing his hair with a pair of stiff military hair brushes. "It's the best thing' m the world ; far better for a man than a glass of beer," said he, m explanation to an open-mouthed, wide-eyed, flabbergasted admirer. "May be so," was the retort, "but I reckon I know what most chaps would take if you gave them the chance." Poneke Ryan is showing great proficiency m side-stepping, said to be the outcome of Billy Wallace's tutoring!One Athletic scrumma^er was butting his "Oriental" opponents with the ferocity of an enraged billy-goat on Saturday. How many of our referees are on the spot when a try is scored, and how often do they make the pace a cracker for themselves ? Thomson, Old Boys' half, was greatly infused with the cheerfulness of life against Poneke, and effervesced and bubbled over at times, to the delight of the Whites' barrackers. Walter Bethune and Len McKenzie, giving counsel, to Old Boys at half-time, was a sight for the gods. Rumored that Len promised to shout for all hands if the Whites came off victorious • m their deal with the Red and Blacks, but as they didn't Len kept the spons m his pocket. What was the mysterious reason for Walter coming on the scene so publicly ? - The members of one of the city teams which indulges m a stiff canter m the vicinity of Hataitai on training nights, are developing expert dodging powers, the net result of escaping collision with the numerous spoony couples doing the oldovercoat act on the cold, cold slopes of the suburban drills. Old Boys have the makings of a clinking side 'with expert coaching. The material is there all right, but it wants licking into shape. This remark badly applies to the Whites' rearguard. .Mr W. Devenish, who has done many fine things for Nelson College and Old Boys m all branches of sport, and Rugby m particular, was given a hearty send-oft by admirers on the eve of his departure for Greymouth, where he takes up the position of Collector of Customs. It is puzzling to know what the Rugby Union officials are doing at the Park on Saturday when something turns up to occupy their attention. There are plenty of things that want looking into, but they never mention a word about them at the weekly korero. The whole responsibility seems to be cast* upon Secretary Talbot, and it is not fair to him, or the Union, that this should be, so. Most of the officials could very properly be classified as phlebotomised mummies. As was only to be expected, Christchurch people are saying much concerning the decision to play the Inter-Island, a game this season m Wellington. O*ip writer hurls it off his chest m this wa.y %_ "It is difficult to know why tnc -gpmes are usually fixed for Wellington, except thai, the headquarters of the i-fow Zealand Union are there, and J oifie officials wish to be able to witness the matches. It should be remembered that it is the duty of the governing body to foster the Same throughout the "Dominion, and as this is an off season, so far as "big" games are concerned, it is somewhat of a selfish policy to play the best game m Wellington. It cannot be on the score of expense, as the Union is now an alllucnt body, and the profit or loss should not carry any weight. . . There is too much centralisation, of all the good ,

games." For the Canterbury Rugby Union officials to get such a nasty dig lrom the governing body after all the kowtowing by Mason and Garrard is something undreamt of m these parts.

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General Gossip. NZ Truth, Issue 211, 10 July 1909

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