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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 12 (March 2, 1936)

Panorama of the Playground — New Zealanders In International Sport

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Panorama of the Playground
New Zealanders In International Sport.

It is not until one sits down and reflects on the activities of New Zealanders in international sport during the past fifteen or sixteen months that it is realised just how many and varied sporting activities have been contested by New Zealand representatives.

At the time of writing the New Zealand University Rugby Football team is blazing a trail in Japan, where, under the capable managership of Mr. R. Martin-Smith, a team of young students have won every match. Whether this record holds good or not at the time this is read, we may feel reasonably certain that New Zealand's fair name is getting a good advertisement in the Land of the Flowering Cherry.

Also at the time of writing there is a big cricket match looming between a New Zealand team and a team of English players sent out by the Marylebone Cricket Club. The first match between these teams saw M.C.C. robbed of an overwhelming victory by the intervention of Jupiter Pluvius, but, nothing daunted, the New Zealanders returned to the fray and in the second encounter turned the tables on the visitors and almost forced a win. It is this fighting back against the odds that is developing a good national spirit in sport and one that will be necessary to withstand the lean years that all sports suffer in turn.

A pleasing feature of the tour of New Zealand by the M.C.C. cricketers is the fine bowling figures returned by several of the Dominion's trundlers: Marshall, of Rangitikei, with 7 wickets for 102 runs; Warnes, of Wanganui, 5 for 71; Christenson, of Taranaki, 4for 49; Cromb, of Christchurch, 4 for 52; Murchison, of Manawatu, 6 for 51; and Blundell, of Wellington, 5 for 50, have every reason to feel satisfied with their work as bowlers.

Rugby football, known as New Zealand's national sport, figures very prominently in this Cavalcade of Sport. The 1935 All Blacks left New Zealand with a certain amount of misgiving but with the good wishes of all loyal citizens, who, secretly hoping that the record of the 1924–25 All Blacks would be equalled, felt that the team of untried representatives would weld another link in the Empire chain of sport. The competitive success or failure of the team during the tour is just a matter of viewpoint and comparisons. It is impossible to assess the strength of County teams of 1905, 1924 and 1935, and it is just as impossible to class the standard of play in England as being higher this season than in past seasons. But it is possible and obvious that the alterations in New Zealand scrummaging rules have had an effect on the style of play, and with English teams playing “wing forwards” when New Zealanders, taking the advice of Mr. “Bim” Baxter, had abolished that much-discussed player, the All Blacks were at a decided disadvantage. Add to this, the number of injuries and the vagaries of selection it would seem that the record of 28 games for 24 wins 3 losses and 1 drawn game, with 431 points for and 180 points against is not altogether a poor performance. But we had become accustomed to gauging the All Blacks on the 1905 or 1924–25 teams, and now is the time where the acquisition of a “fight back” spirit will stand Rugby in good stead.

The All Blacks in Great Britain took but one Maori player, Tori Reid, but the selection of a New Zealand Maori team to tour Australia gave the natives an opportunity of showing the Australians bright Rugby. Although it was only by the casting vote of the chairman of the New South Wales Rugby Union that the team was accepted, the financial returns exceeded the wildest expectations and left the coffers of the N.S.W. Rugby Union overflowing. The Maoris, managed by that great singer, Kingi Tahiwi, coached by the “Admirable Crichton” of Rugby, Billy Wallace, and captained by George Nepia, played ten games in Australia for eight wins and two losses, scoring 242 points and having 127 points scored against it. Unfortunately for New Zealand Rugby football, several of the members of this team accepted engagements with Rugby League Clubs in England, and Nepia, Harrison, M'Donald and C. Smith are now advertising New Zealand in the Northern Union code in the Old Land.

So much for Rugby. Hockey figured as a game in which New Zealanders took part in International contests, and although not successful in defeating the All-Indià hockey team, the New Zealand representatives were given considerable encouragement by the manager of that successful combination when he said that there was no reason why a New Zealand team should not fill second place to India at the Olympic Games hockey contests.

And international hockey was not confined to the male section either. A team of New Zealand women players journeyed to Australia to participate in the State tournament and proved successful in winning the tournament. In addition New Zealand triumphed over All-Australia in the only Test match played on the tour.

In tennis New Zealanders have had a big season. Apart from the Davis Cup team which went under early to Czecho-Slovakia, New Zealand players of both sexes have had an opportunity of meeting the stars. Fred Perry, Vivian M'Grath and E. E. Moon played in New Zealand, the last-mentioned pair competing in the New Zealand championships where E. D. Andrews, New Zealand's much-travelled player, succeeded in defeating Moon, while E. A. Roussell gave M'Grath a real hard game at Wellington. The New Zealand women's team in Australia met with varying success, but towards the close of the tour the members were playing tennis of high order. In Germany, late in January, the New Zealanders Cam Malfroy and A. C. Stedman won the covered courts doubles championship, defeating Boussus and Gentien in the final.

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Clark M'Conachy, the billiardist who has been classed as second only to Walter Lindrum, is another New Zealander who has carried the flag far and wide. After a tour of New Zealand in company with Lindrum, M'Conachy and his Australian rival travelled to Canada where some fine exhibitions have been given. Billiards as a pastime attracts large “houses” in England, and the interest shown in Canada is said to outrival that of the Old Land.

Three New Zealand boxers have been fighting abroad—excluding those who may be in Australia. The best-known of this trio is Maurice Strickland, who left New Zealand as heavyweight champion and sailed for England with his wife and trainer, Billy Crawford. Glowing reports came back of Strickland's first win, a t.k.o. over Ben Foord, South African champion, but subsequent reports indicate that the New Zealander hasn't set the Thames on fire and is not up to Tom Heeney's standard. In his second English engagement Strickland met Tommy Loughran, a veteran American wizard of the glove, but failed to make any impression, and lost by a wide margin of points. Loughran subsequently drew with Andre Lenglet, a former French champion. Strickland's third match was against Selah El Din, an Egyptian, who refused to fight after taking one or two punches, and was disqualified. Then followed a loss to Jimmy Wilde, Welsh heavyweight. Strickland was subsequently matched to meet a Negro, Obie Walker, but, due to an injured hand, he had to turn the match down. Strickland may yet improve—it took Heeney some time to get into the running, but judged by reports of his fights the New Zealander seems to lack ring imagination and fights a stolid type of encounter when more life is needed. (Strickland was beaten by Walker on points. —Ed.).

Accompanying the Australian champion, Palmer, to England was Harry Lister, a New Zealander who has done most of his fighting in Australia. Lister, at the time of writing had had only one fight in England, losing on points. The third boxer to wear the Silver Fern in rings abroad is Joe Franklin, former lightweight champion of New Zealand, who has been thrilling South Africans with his non-stop methods of fighting. His loss to Jabie Smith in his second bout in South Africa is said to have been the greatest exhibition of punching seen for many a day in the land of the Springboks. Franklin will never be a world beater, but will invariably severely punish his opponent no matter what the result may be.

The departure to Australia of two Otago swimmers, Peter Mathieson and Walter Jarvis, did not arouse any great interest outside Otago until the lads started to swim in Sydney, and then New Zealanders sat up and realised that there were at least two natatorial stars of the first magnitude produced in New Zealand. Mathieson, the backstroke star, seems to be putting himself in the N.Z. Olympic team by genuine performances. In shattering the Australian-born record for 400 metres by 30 seconds—he swam the distance in 5.41 3/5—Mathieson actually lowered the Australian record by eight seconds. This record was made by Kiyokawa, the Olympic champion of 1932, who subsequently set a world's record of 5.30 2–5 secs. To be only 11 1/5 secs. worse than the world's record for this distance is encouraging and must rank Mathieson among the best five in this particular section of swimming. W. J. Jarvis was slower in striking form, and did not show his best until he went to Melbourne where he won the Victorian 100 yards championship in 54 seconds, the fastest time ever recorded by a New Zealander and 4/5ths of a second better than the New Zealand record made by Noel Crump and since improved by one-fifth of a second by R. Frankham, of Auckland. Prior to winning the Victorian title in 54 seconds, Jarvis had not done better than 56 secs. for 100 yards.

In addition to the visit paid by these two swimmers to Australia, New Zealanders had the opportunity of competing against Taris and Poussard (French swimmers), and Claire Dennis and Frances Bult (Australian swimmers) during short tours of the Dominion.

In track and field athletics New Zealanders have reaped fame by the running of Jack Lovelock against the pick of American milers at Princeton last June, and, nearer at home, have had a strong team of athletes competing in Australia. The first team of Secondary School athletes to represent New Zealand did fairly well at the Centenary Games Secondary Schools’ Athletic Championships in Melbourne, P. M'Lauchlan winning the mile, while Watt and Sayers scored minor places.

At the Centenary Games a team of New Zealanders consisting of MacFarlane, M'Lachlan, Matthews, Sharpley, Driscoll, Broadway and Crowe, competed against the best Australia could produce in addition to a small team from Great Britain and two Finnish stars, Perasalo and Sippala. Of the New Zealand team, Matthews and Driscoll proved the most successful, although Broadway, MacFarlane and M'Lachlan impressed the Australians in minor successes.

It was immediately after the Centenary Games that the British team and the two representatives from Finland toured New Zealand and gave the rank and file an opportunity of ompeting against overseas stars. The win by Edgar Forne, of Napier, over J. V. Powell, English Olympic finalist, brought one fine little runner to the forefront, and the Bayite followed this up by winning the New Zealand one mile title and Lovelock Cup.

With the Olympic Games and other international fixtures in the offing, participating New Zealanders can be relied upon to worthily uphold this country's respected name in the world of sport.