Pinetree Meads is 80 years old today.

There are probably only two real legends in New Zealand rugby: Colin Meads and Richie McCaw.

Passing the baton: Pinetree presenting and Under 21 player of the year Richie McCaw in 2001.

Meads was a player from a a different era, before it became professional. His day job was as a farmer.  Legend has it that he trained by running up hills carrying fencing posts.

The game was different in those days.  There was a much greater emphasis on forward play, scrums and line outs were much more frequent because you could kick the ball out on the full from anywhere in the field which happened with monotonous regularity. The game was slower because the fields were often a sea of mud making fast flowing play difficult. They were far less interesting to watch. It was a player’s game.

Dick Conway who played with Meads in South Africa was once asked how he would go against a modern team. He said, “I’m 5 foot 10 and weigh 12 1/2 stone, the guy I would be marking the 6 foot 3, weighs 14 stone and runs 100 yards in 12 seconds. How do you think I would go?”

Meads was the hard man of New Zealand rugby: an enforcer.



But he was also as tough as the fencing posts he was reputed to carry. During  the 1970 All Blacks tour of South Africa, Meads broke his arm in the first six minutes of the first test, had it taped up and continued the game, despite the fact that he couldn’t bind in the scrum.  He played the next two tests with a broken arm.

t3 frik en meads184.jpg

In 1967, he was sent off for dangerous play against Scotland at Murrayfield and became only the second All Black suspended in a test match. The British Daily Telegraph newspaper said of the incident that ‘For one with Meads’ worldwide reputation for robust play, this was rather like sending a burglar to prison for a parking offence.’ But then, the Poms didn’t like Richie either.

In Australia, he is notorious for having ended the career of Ken Catchpole by wrenching Catchpole’s leg while he was pinned down, causing him serious injury. (Wiki)

These are probably not incidents that Meads would be particularly proud of today but he would probably say that they came with the territory.


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