NOTES BY FORWARD.
Notwithstanding the ealmour by some of the clubs for the amendment of the flag rules by the elimination of the semi-final and final rounds — a clamour that now seems to have been successful — I am unable to see that it was v«ry reasonable. It is argued that an injustice might be done by a system of semi-finals and finals. It is quite true that this might be. A club with -a strong lead in the preliminary round might be defeated in the semi-final or final by a club that came fourth on the list, and, in fact, just squeezed into the semi-final. An injustice is equally likely to happen with a cor-tinuous round. No analogy can fairly be drawn between Christchurch or Wellington and Dunedin. In Christchurch there are six senior clubs. In Wellington there are the same number. A complete round of matches in both these places takes five Saturdays, and two rounds occupy 10 Saturdays, which is about as many as can be spared for flacr matches. In Dunedin we have eight senior matches. It takes seven Saturdays before each club has played all the others once, and it would take 14- Saturdays to complete two rounds of matches. It is idle to suppose that two complete rounds can ever be played. The clubs would not be content with one round. The consequence is that the competition will be decided on one complete round and an uncompleted round. Where a round is not completed the clubs are not all treated alike. One club with a strong chance of winning is sure to escape in the uncompleted round with easier matches than will fall to the lot of some other club that is well up in the list, and an injustice will almost certainly be worked. There is a choice of two evils, and I am satisfied that the arrangement under which semi-finals and finals were to be playeti would have proved more just than the arrangement that, as a compromise, is now to be adopted. It is after all only a remote possibility that the best team would not win the final.
What seems to me to hare been a most deplorable feature of the proceedings at the meeting of the Otago Rugby Union on Satur-^ day night last was the undisguised grasping of ' club 3 for gate money. This element of " gate " is creeping far too much into our winter pastime. There is no form of recreation which is cheaper for the player than football and any contention that gate money is necessary to the maintenance of a club is not tenable for a moment. I am glad to know that there is one club in town with 160 members which secures no gate?. Of that club it can honestly be said that it is flourishing. When, however, a club looks to gate takings to pay expenses whioh its members should consider it their duty to discharge, a very dangerous element is introduced. There is far too much leaning on the public for financial support. It would almost appear that players are beeomiug imbued with the notion that they should not be expected to pay subscriptions, but that they should merely give exhibitions of football, and that the expenses of the maintenance of their clubs should be defrayed out of the pockets of the people who pay to witness their exhibitions. When a club goes to the Rugby Union with, a poor mouth, because for the exclusive use during the season i of one of the finest grounds in the colony it id \ charged £15 without an interest in the gate takings, one wonders what will come next. I assume that this club has at least 60 members, in which event a subscription of 5s from each will cover the rent charges. If that is so, it is utterly discreditable that any such appeal for consideration as I have mentioned should have been made. A club which grudges a small sum such as that for the privileges it obtains doe 3 not deserve to have such a, ground. Its complaint that it does not receive an interest in the gate receipts at matohes is, hewever, only symptomatic of the notions which some clubs seem to possess on this subject of gate money. I jam inclined to think that the solution, sooner or later — probably sooner — will have to come in the iiugby Union taking absolute control of all grounds upon which matches under its auspices are played. Until the pastime is entirely divorced from all considerations of " gate " there will bo an ever-present danger of undesirable practices being adopted by clubs.
The contretemps which has resulted in the University Club forfeiting its first-grade match to the Alhambra last Saturday was very unfortunate, but it was certainly not unavoidable. The fixture was to have been played at Tahuna Park, but that ground was taken lip with the extremely pure sport of trotting, and was not available for football purposes. The University Club's secretary on becoming aware of this — which was not until the eleventh hour — wrote to the Alhambra Club that, unless the matches for Saturday last should happen to be postponed, his club ■would consent to its opponents claiming a win. The reason given for this by the University secretary was that his club would be unable to play. The University Club has, I believe, since repudiated the action of its Fecretary ; but there can be no doubt that a club must be held to be bound by the acts of its executive officer. If he exceeded his authority it is for his own club to deal with him, but it certainly cannot be suggested that the Alhambra Club was not entitled to regard his letter as strictly official. The proper course for the University Club to have taken when it discovered its difficulty ,was to approach the Flag Committee. lam assured tliat that committee could have provided a ground for the match. The Asylum ground was, in fact, vacant.
The following are the match points gained in the First-grade Flag matches in Dunedin so far this seaßon: — Kaikorai ... 9 points University... 2 points Alhambra ... 8 „ Pirates ... 2 Union ... 7 „ Zingari-Rich-Dunedin ... 8 mond ... 1 „ Southern . 5 In the Senior competition at Chrisichureh Merivale beat Linwood by 14 points to nil; Kaiapoi beat Albion by 7 points to 3 ; Chrifctchuroh and Sydenham played a draw, neither side scoring. The weather was fine. The' first round has now concluded, Merivale and Chriptoliureh leading with four points each.
A team from the Union Club visited Milton last week and defeated the local club. The Milton paper insinuates that the referee (Mr Haydon) blew his whistle for time five minutes too soon and at a moment when Milton was likely to score. I understand that the referee says that the proper time had been exceeded by half a minute or bo when he blew his whistle.
A curious commentary on the complaints that country clubs- occasionally make respecting the alleged neglect of- them by the Otago Rugby Union is supplied by the fact that hardly any of them took the trouble to comply with the request of the O.R.F.U. to favour that body with suggestions as to the proposed institution of flag matches in country districts. The replies that were received by the union were unfavourable to the proposal, and it is not surprising therefore that it has been
The New Zealand Rugby Union has received a letter from the New South Wales Union expressing disappointment at the refusal to have anything to do with the English footballers, and asking for reconsideration. This was followed by a telegram asking the New Zealand Union to send 17 men to play England in Sydney on August 5, and assist Australia on the 12th, tlic selection of the team for the latter to be by a representative of eacfi union. They would pay the expenses of the men from home to home. The New Zealand Union, however, has determined, in, the face of the positive answers from the local unions, not to send any team or men, at the same time thanking the New South Wales Union for the offer.
The Pirates First Fifteen may always be depended upon to play a wretched game on the Saturday following their annual match with the Christchurch Club. This was so. last Saturday. There was hardly a m«mber of the team (in which Farquharson made his reappearance) who could raise a gallop. Their opponents of the Dunedin Club were in a like condition. The Diuiedin players had visited Xaseby during the week and been beaten by the Prospectors Club by 9 points to nothing, and they, like the Pirates, showed that they had not benefited by their celebration of the Queen's Birthday. The consequence was that the match between the two clubs furnished a miserable exhibition of football.
In a match at Sydney on the 20th May between the Wallaroo and Marrickville, which the former won by 14 points to nil, a Wallaroo three-quarter back named Spragg achieved a performance which is probably a record. He scored the whole of the Wallaroo points — he obtained four tries and converted one of them into a goal.
The most sanguine supporters of the Southern team did not expect them to pull off their match with the Kaikorai. but they were confident in their belief that the suburban team would make a good fight of it. This opinion would seem to have been shared by many others, judging by the exceptionally large attendance. The ground was crowded with people, and considerable difficulty was experienced keeping them off the field, more especially in the latter part of the game, when the excitement was somewhat intense. Indeed, towards the close, when the players were almost indistinguishable, the more excited of the spectators impeded the progress of the game for a time, despite all the efforts of the officials appointed by the Southern Club to keep the ground clear. The game in the first spell was of a character entirely suited to the Kaikorai's style of play. In the scrum the Kaikorai vanguard easily shoved their opponents, and the ball almost invariably came to their backs, who handled it with a precision that would have resulted in their scoring heavily had they been met with anything in the shape of weak tackling. In the second spell the play was much faster. The Southern forwards made the game loose, and went in for dribbling and fast following up. In this they proved much more expert than their opponents, who were players of a heavier and slower type. Thus it was that while the Kaikorai had much, the better of the first spell, the Southern were on the attack most of the second- Only the great exertions of Duncan, Armit;, and Wood kept them from scoring. The play of the Kaikorai backs was the best feature of the game. Both on the attack and defence they showed great form, and the manner in which they handled the ball was at times a treat to witness. Duncan played splendidly, and all the tries scored for his side were in a measure due to him. At the same time it should be stated that when his side was in danger, he deliberately stood_ off-side. Sinclair, who played scrum half in place of Mason, who was absent, was very unselfish, and gave the men behind him as many chances as possible. Wood also displayed good form, kicking and running with much judgment. Armit showed very good form, but his play would be improved and his side would gain a corresponding advantage if he kicked into touch oftener and endeavoured to force his way through his opponents less. Murphy was very safe at full back. Of a powerful, but not at all brilliant, pack of forwards, Murphy and Cross were about the best. The Kaikora^forwards, it should be mentioned, were Avithout the services of Davie and J. Murphy, the latter playing full back in place of Jackson. As has been indicated, the Southern forwards were in great form. Their dribbling, tackling, and following up were of a very high order. Allan was conspicuous right through the game, and Cavanagh, Olson, and Willett were also noticeable for their good play. Burgess played exceedingly well behind the scrum, and gained a lot of ground by his smart kicks into touch, but he might have given the men behind him more chances than he did. The defensive work of Chambers, Duncan, and Lawry left little to be desired, but on the attack these players, as well as Paris, were somewhat weak. Goodman did not play so well as on the previous Saturday. Mr F. H. Campbell acted as roferee, and his decisions in regard to the play were accepted without demur. Some of the spectators were of opinion that the referee allowed too much time in the first sppll.
The play in the Dunedin-Pirates match was very slow and uninteresting. Both teams had evidently not got over the matches they played during the week, as they were decidedly off-colour on Saturday. * The game was chiefly confined to (he forwards, who were pretty evenly matched, although the Pirates had much the best of the scrums. In the loose the Dunedin showed up better. The Dunedin backs proved too much for their opponents, and their kicking undoubtedly won them the match. Ward did well al< full back. Mackenzie was the best back on his side, but his kicking wa3 poor. Stophenson also did a lot of saving work. Dunne and M'Kewen ware perhaps the best of an evon lot of forwards. On the side Buchanan, at full back, played well, getting in some splendid kicks. Bragg (who is improving every Saturday), Burt, and Thomson were the most prominent of the other hacks, none of whom fielded well. The last-named put in some serviceable kicks, getting his side out of danger several times. Priest, Farquharson, and Matthewson were the pick of the forwards.
The match between the Zingari-Richmond and Union was the reverse of interesting, and most of those who visited Montecillo came away disappointed at the display afforded. The Zingari forwards were reinforced by the inclusion of W. Smith, Caradus, and Hobbs. and this trio made their presence very much felt throughout the »ame. and were, indeed, the best of the Colours' forwards. On the other hand, the Union were very much weakened by the ab«cuce of Adams, Walke", W. MinK-o, Gilchrist, and Harris. The [iingari forwards were much the Fuperior. both in the scruu'E and in the loose. The Union men seemed to be at sixes and 3evenp — m fa< t. the whole team was a good deal disorganized. The hill men may account themselves unlucky in not winning the match, for they liar 1 much the best of the play, and were within an ace of scoring on at least two occasions. The forwards flayed a hard, if not scientific, game.
and of the backs R. Fordyce gave _a capital display at full back, all his work being clean and effective. A. Smith was the best of the others. Of the Union backs Bennett, D. Davis, and Armstrong were the pick, none of the others showing anything like first-class form. The most prominent of the forwards ■Has A. Beadle.
A writer in the Sydney Referee says that if P. Ward, the ex-Southland half back, has not been playing above his average form, he is, in attack, one of the best men in the position they have ever seen in Sydney. It is mentioned as worthy of note by young players and junior teams that Ward's passes are low and quick, and he invariably has his man going fast before he sends the ball to him. Most of the Sydney men in his position are standing still when they get the ball from the scrum half. Ward, on the other hand, is often well into his stride when he gets it. Another point worthy of remark is that Ward throws the ball in from touch, and also puts the ball into the scrum. This is also the custom observed in England, Scotland, and Wales, and also Ireland, the present British champions at Rugby. In putting the ball into the scrum, Ward stands about a yard or more clear of the forwards, holds each end of the ball with one hand, and then fairly rolls it into the scrum, with the ends facing the opposing forwards. Purdue and Davis, of the Marrickville forwards, are also but recent arrivals from New Zealand. They are fine stamp of players, powerful and fast. Purdue did some particularly clever dribbling during the 'Varsity match, and also showed that he is a sound place-kick — a branch of play in which forwards usually do not shine.
The secretary of the New South Wales Union lias received a letter from Mr Mullineux, giving a list of the team which ho proposed bringing to Australia. They were to leave London on May 10, and catch the R.M.S. Oceana at Marseilles next day. This is the list of the proposed 21 players, although E. F. Fookes was doubtful, and also J. F. Byrne:— Backs: J. F. Byrne (England). E. F. Fookes (England), A. B. Timms (Scottish Trials), E. Gwyn Nicholls (Wales), G. P. Doran (Ireland), E. T. Nicholson (Cheshire), C. E. K. Thompson (Lancashire), M. Mullineux (Kent), C. Adamson (North of England), G. Cookson (North of England). Forwards: C R. Gibson (England), J. W. Jarman (England), J. S. Francombe (Lancashire), G. E. Evers (Moseley), F. C. Belaon (Somerset), B. I. Swannell (East Midlands), A. Ayre Smith (Surrey), W. Judkins (Coventry). T. W. M'Gown (Ireland), F. 3U. Stout (England), W. G. Byron (Ireland). The following colours have been selected for the tour : — Red, white, and blue hooped jerseys, blue stockings with red and while tops, blue serge knickerbockers, maroon caps with a kangaroo worked in front. The "blazers" will be of dark blue, -<\ith a design emblematic of the four countries. English papers say that it is not a representative team. It may not be the best team tliat could be picked from all the players of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, but it i% probably, the best team that could be got together for so long a tour. The list contains the names of some of the best men in the different departments of the game. There are nine men who have played in international matches — five from England, three- from Ireland, and one from. Wales. Byrne plays full back for England, and belongs to the celebrated Moseley Club, which also sends Mullineux and Evere. Fookes belongs to Sowcrby Bridge, and plays as three-quarters for England ; Gibson (Northumberland) and Stout (Gloucester) are forwards in the English teams. Nicholls, wing three-quarters, plays for Wales : whilst Doran, at -three-quarters, and M'Gown and Byron, forward, represent Ireland. Lancashire sends four men — Nicholson, Thompson, Cookson, and Francombe Bilson comes from Somerset, Swannell from East Midlands, Ayre Smith from Surrey, and Judkins from Coventry. Adamson represents North of England, tind Timms hails from Scotland. The team is not to be despised which contains England's full back, a three quarter each from England. Ireland, and Wales, besides five international forwards, and some of the best men of the county clubs. The team will probably play a fast open game, which was the chief feature of the international matches played this season. They will play their first match in Sydney against a New South Wales team on June 17. \