OTAGO AND CANTERBURY.
When the whistle blows for "110 side" at the end of the Otago-Canter-bury match at Lancaster Park tomorrow afternoon, it will sound the end of the Rugby season in Christchurch. And, although the blight of the European war has fallen heavily upon Rugby in New Zealand, and neither province will have quite its strongest team in the field to-morrow — Otago is labouring under a very heavy handicap —it is a fitting match with which to finish an interesting season. Scarcely anyone needs to be reminded of the long and eventful history of matches between these old and honoured rivals on the football field. But probably few people realise that of the 35 matches wliich have been played between Otago and Canterbury—they date back to 1878 —Otago has won 19 and Canterbury eight, while eight have been drawn. CANTERBURY SHOULD WIN. The percentage of drawn games in this record is remarkably high, but it indicates how unusually evenly matched are the teams of these two unions as a rule. The last two matches have both been won by Canterbury—last year's match, played in Dunedin, finished with the scores 6 to 3 —and most of the indications toward to-morrow's game point to another victory for Canterburv. Individually and collectively, the red-and-black garbed men should be superior to the southern fifteen, if the former show their best form. In its North Island tour the Canterbury team showed much better form than it displayed against the South Canterbury fifteen immediately prior to the opening of the. tour. Last Saturday, however, the team gave a poor display in beating the weak Southland fifteen. Possibly that was due to " staleness." But it is also possible that the weakness of the opposition in the second half of the game led the Canterbury men to take matters rather easily, except when scores could be obtained without strenuous effort. In that spell they were not tested properly, and so it might be that sterner opposition will bring out some of the form which they showed in the North Island. MATERIAL DIFFERENCES.
As for the visiting team, the following extract from yesterday's "Otago Daily Times" shows what has happened to it: —"The team to represent Otago on the northern tour differs somewhat materially from that originally selected. The backs undergo no alteration, but it has been found necessary to reconstitute the vanguard. Five of the best forwards have for various reasons been forced to drop out. These are Mowatt (Kaikorai), Patterson and Davidson (Zingari), and Graham and Douglas '(Southern). Their places have been filled by Geary (Southern), Russell (Alhambra), Knox and Fogarty (Union), and Tansey (Zingari). Unfortunately the players who v were included at the last moment are not of the calibre of those whose places they have been called upon to fill, and the team is weakened in consequence. The original team was weak alone in the backs, the forwards being particularly strong. Now the forwards are little better, if any, than the, backs, and the whole side is below standard. In the circumstances, there can be no great expectations concerning the team's success; but we may be sure that every man will, do his "best, and more keenly because of the team's weakness.'' THE RANFURLY SHIELD.
The victory scored by Wellington against Taranaki in the Ranfurly Shield match at Stratford yesterday was not a surprise to those who have followed recent events in Taranaki Rugby. Taranaki has been unlucky this season. The team which won the shield from Auckland's fifteen last year was an exceedingly strong one, and it was hoped that most of the members of it would again be available • this year. But lack of uniformity of the weekly half-holiday had a serious effect upon club Rugby in North Taranaki. It was so serious that the Thursday competition, which has been the principal club competition in that portion of the province until the past year or two, became practically non-existent, and many good men whose weekly half-holiday fell on Thursday therefore had to give up playing. Then the Expeditionary Force has taken some of Taranaki's best players, including H. Dewar (a Wellington, Taranaki, North Island, and New Zealand representative forward), who is a very clever player, and whose absence is particularly keenly felt. He is a line leader of forwards.
So short of good players did Taranaki become through men joining the Expeditionary Force that two veteran backs, "Bunny" Abbott and "Don" Cameron had to be "resurrected." But the trouble did not stop short at having to put "come-backs" into the team. For the reasons indicated, and various others, the team has had to be altered from match to match. Although Taranaki has played 10 representative inatches this season, no two matches have been played by exactly the same fifteen. This, naturally, has militated against the acquisition of effective combination.
"Wellington has held the shield once before, iii 1904. In 1905 Auckland sent down a "forlorn hope" that won the trophy back, and it remained in Auckland until the latter part of last season. The telegraphed details of yesterday's match are so meagre that the composition of-the Wellington team cannot be ascertained. It is probable, how;ever, that the team was stronger than that which drew with Auckland last Saturday, as there was some talk of sending to Taranaki men who could not go to Auckland.
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RUGBY NOTES., Sun, Volume I, Issue 186, 11 September 1914
RUGBY NOTES. Sun, Volume I, Issue 186, 11 September 1914
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