As self-designated old timer’s rugby selector of the ‘favourites fifteens’ from Australia and New Zealand, I can now proudly announce the Favourites Overseas XV.
After much research, YouTubing and searching of memory banks, the XV is as follows. These are my favourite players, not necessarily the best in their position:
Joost van der Westhuizen
Willie John McBride
Ian “Mighty Mouse” McLauchlan
What is the best, anyway? It is all about opinion. Some would say Serge Blanco was a better fullback and yes, that was a close call as Blanco typified the brilliance I enjoy. I recall the cleverness of Davies and the sidestep of Duckham.
What skill it must have taken to offer a dummy and sidestep concurrently as seen by David Duckham in the 1972 Barbarians versus All Blacks match. I can watch that over and over!
I do not know if you could find a better centre pairing than the fictional Sella and Gerber combination at any time in rugby history, Frank Bunce and Walter Little? Conrad Smith and Ma’a Nonu? Jason Little and Tim Horan? All will have fans, but for polished skills and sheer power, Sella and Gerber were potentially the best. Barry John will live long in my memory for his deeds on the 1971 British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand.
As is the modern way I will abbreviate the halfback pick to JvdW, a player who had steely eyes to match his playing ability. He will compete with Sid Going and Gareth Edwards as one of the best, with Aaron Smith and Antoine Dupont the greatest of modern times.
Merv ‘the swerve’ Davies was the Welsh number eight during their glory years – no more needs to be said. The bloodied and blonde Rives was another of those players to stick in the memory and holds great respect from All Black fans.
Francois was probably a controversial, close call, but for one moment in history, 1995, he gets the nod.
Does the word “uncompromising” fit well with the two locks McBride and Johnson? They’re the minders of the team, who led by example in the intimidation stakes. I relied on others’ opinions for the selection of Cotton and McLauchlan, with Os du Randt and Graham Price competing. The nuggety, speedy bald fellow in the middle of those props was the inspirational Keith Wood.
So, there you have them, my Overseas Favourites XV.
It would be remiss of me not to compare this team with my New Zealand and Australian fifteens. I will use surnames, nicknames and abbreviations to compare the options for an overall favourite team, as I’m sure those who read this will be clever enough to know who I am talking about.
– JPR vs Cullen vs Gould: You cannot go past Christian.
– Tune/Roff vs BeeGee Williams vs Duckham: I’m showing my bias – BeeGee at his finest.
– Robertson vs O’Connor vs Sella: This is tough, I’ll go Sella.
– Stu Wilson vs Moon vs Gerald Davies: I changed my mind, was initially Moon but have switched to Davies.
– Joe Morgan vs Gerber vs Ken Wright: Gerber, no doubt.
– John vs Spencer vs Ella: Barry John for 1971.
– JvdW vs Going vs Gregan: My Northland bias prefers Sidney Milton Going.
– Mervyn Davies vs Zinzan vs Loane: Zinzan by a 50m dropkick.
– Rives vs Michael Jones vs Poidevin: The Iceman cometh.
– Haden vs Eales vs McBride: John Eales, the kauri of the tall trees.
– Whiting vs Sharpe vs Johnson: Martin Johnson, otherwise known as ‘Ferengi’.
– Kirky vs George Smith vs Pienaar: The Aussie Smith.
– Steve McDowall vs Rodriguez vs Cotton: Topo, the ‘Expert’.
– Fitzpatrick vs Kearns/Lawton vs Wood: The guy you want on your side, Fitzpatrick.
– Hayman vs Daly/McKenzie vs Mighty Mouse: ‘Carl Hayman doesn’t want to forget’.
My favourite overall team from NZ, Australia and the World:
Bryan ‘Beegee’ Williams
Who would coach the Overseas XV? I cannot go past legendary Welsh coach Carwyn James, who would battle Alan Jones for Australia and Fred Allen the New Zealander if such fictional matches took place.
I hope you have enjoyed the articles about my favourite players. This is the end of the series and it has been a pleasure to bring them to you. They are not meant to be taken too seriously, but more of a record of great players from the past who would disappear if such writings did not take place.
Will today’s players be remembered as fondly as these players?