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Salient. An organ of student opinion at Victoria University, Wellington. Vol. 23. No. 7. Monday, August 8, 1960.

Blues And The Blues Panel

page 9

Blues And The Blues Panel

A New Zealand university blue is the highest award which can be gained within the structure of the universities of New Zealand by a student sportsman, and ranks second only to a New Zealand representative blazer.

There was a time, prior to 1948, when blues were awarded at the drop of a hat to many competitors whose sporting ability was little better than that of the average club member.

In 1948 the New Zealand University Students' Association, which had previously considered blues swords itself, decided to set up a panel of outstanding sportsmen to make recommendations on the award of blues. Thus the New Zealand University Blues Panel was born and it commenced operations at Easter Tournament, 1949.

The first job of the Panel was to decide what a blue should be, and then to devise methods of ensuring that a blue should not be

awarded unless it was proved conclusively that the nominee was an outstanding sportsman worthy of the highest university sporting honour that can be awarded.

"A Good Provincial Standard"

The standard agreed upon was a "good provincial standard," and it is the interpretation of these words that has caused much bitterness among students during the past 11 years. The reason appears to be that some people fail to realise that a man might be a New Zealand representative in his sport, but may not be of "a good provincial standard." This statement may seem a contradiction in terms, but only if one thinks of what is a good provincial standard in any year, instead of what should be a good provincial standard.

A sport could be extremely weak in this country, with the result that New Zealand representation in such a sport may be easier to attain than in a sport where New Zealand leads the world; consequently, membership of the top provincial team in New Zealand in a weak sport can be less difficult to come by than representation in an average province in a strong sport. As a result, the words "a good provincial standard" are interpreted as meaning such a standard as would give the person concerned a place in the team of a good province when that sport in New Zealand is strong by international standards. For the sake of clarity strong by international standards does not mean being the world champions.

Another method of stating what a blue should be, is the definition used by a member of the Panel. The writer has heard him ask the following question on numerous occasions when blues selectors are being interviewed: "If we give Joe Smith a blue, we would want him to be able to go anywhere in the country and we would want a provincial selector who had never seen him to say 'I don't know this man, but he has a New Zealand University Blue. He must be good. I had better have a good look at him'. Now, if we gave Joe Smith a blue, would that selector be disappointed?"

At times blues selectors have altered their opinions when this question has been put to them and it is a question which many students could well ponder before criticising the Blues Panel on awards they have not made.

No Arbitrary Decisions

Another matter that should be cleared up is the often-heard accusation that the Blues Panel makes arbitrary decisions. Nothing could be further from the truth. The writer has seen blues selectors grilled for lengthy periods on doubtful nominations, and grilled hard, as they know they will be, for such a grilling shows whether they know what makes a good fencer, hockey player, or cricketer, or whatever other sport it may be. After this grilling, one member of the Panel may take up the cudgels on behalf of the doubtful nominee. Battle is joined and may go on for hours, with records for years back being produced and nearly every well-known participant in the sport being compared with the nominee to assess his standard. Then, after this long argument, which exhausts the few privileged listeners, one may find that the decision is held over until the next Tournament to secure further information and opinions from experts.

Peter O'Brien

Peter O'Brien

Yet, after all this, we still hear the Panel accused of "arbitrary decisions."

First-Class Sportsmen Themselves

Finally, it should be pointed out that the members of the N.Z.U. Blues Panel are men who have been first-class university sportsmen in their day. They are men with a wide knowledge of numerous sports and, most important of all, they have the cause of New Zealand university sport at heart. They are determined to ensure that the high standard of a New Zealand university blue is maintained.

This article has been written In order to bring these facts to your notice. Let the Bluea Panel put on with its job, forget about sniping at its work, and please don't rush in with criticism unless you know how the Panel operates. Since 1958 you have been able to find out how a operates from members of the New Zealand University Sports Union who are permitted to sit in en Panel meetings, and who have come to realise that the Panel is doing a good Job for N.Z.U. sport.

Victoria and the N.Z.U.S.A Meeting

The four Victoria delegates to the Winter Council meeting of N.Z.U.S.A., the national student body, are John Hercus, president. Ted Swanney, secretary, Whetu Tirakatene, women's vice-president, and Jane Fogg, last year's chairman of the Education Sub-committee.

Victoria is putting a strong case for a tour by two student leaders to investigate and report on proposed Student Union buildings and halls of residence. Following Victoria's proposals at the last council meeting, the principle of the tour has been agreed to, and Messrs P. Boag and J. Hercus have been selected. Victoria will also present further proposals for the administration of Palmerston North students, and their participation in national student affairs.

S.E.A. Scholarship Fund

Although firm remits have not been drafted as yet, N.Z.U.S.A. will also consider the future of the South-East Asian Scholarship Fund which stands at over a thousand pounds, the proposed tour by Indian students, and the proposed bilateral Russian tour. Also will be discussed the re-investigation of the relationship between N.Z.U.S.A. and the New Zealand Rugby Football Council. In this matter Victoria's executives over the last few years have expressed continuing concern that the major New Zealand sport, rugby, is not included in the official N.Z.U. Tournament, and that there are unsatisfactory mechanics for the nomination of N.Z.U. Rugby Blues and lack of liaison between N.Z.U.R.F.C. and N.Z.U.S.U.

The Victoria delegation is the strongest for many years, and the most experienced. While it will not be presenting any major or radical proposals regarding N.Z.U.S.A.'s international policy, it will have strong proposals regarding N.Z.U.S.A.'s internal national administration.

I know a chap, a friend of mine, who used to paint girls for magazine covers. The best class of girls, eleven feet high with eyes as big as eggs. Well one morning he put on his best suit, called a taxi and drove to the Tower Bridge, where he tied his legs together, put ten pounds of lead in each pocket, took a pint of poison, cut his throat, shot himself through the head and jumped over the parapet. They saw through this job at once, picked him out, pumped him out, sewed him up, plugged him up, and had him back to work in six weeks.—Gulley Jimson in "The Horse's Mouth" by Joyce Cary.