Tuesday, June 15, 2010


By MARC HINTON in Dunedin - Stuff

Richie McCaw cherishes his memories, and Graham Henry even relived a couple of moments from his own sporting "heyday" as the All Blacks brains trust reflected on the end of an era at one of New Zealand's iconic rugby venues.
But both captain and coach are united on one thing when it comes to the last ever rugby test at Carisbrook here on Saturday night - the necessity for the All Blacks to bring the curtain down on the grand old ground with a victory.
Sounds simple. But bearing in mind they've lost their last two tests at a ground once known as a fortress of All Black rugby - against France and South Africa - it still bears some scrutiny.

"It will be [a big moment]," said McCaw yesterday of Saturday's test against Wales which ends 102 years of test rugby on the Dunedin ground. "It will be nice to have a run round out there -- I guess there are a few memories watching games while at school down here."

McCaw graced the famous terraces of the southern citadel while boarding at Otago Boys High School and even ran around on the sward as a schoolboy star. He has also finished on the winning side of all three of his test appearances there, though has notably missed those last two defeats through injury.
But McCaw is nothing if not a pragmatist when it comes to time passing certain institutions by.

"I guess always when it's the last game somewhere it's a wee bit sad, but it's the way it is and that new place will be pretty good too I think," added the skipper, noting it was imperative not to finish on a losing note.

Henry was somewhat more zealous on his reflections both of Carisbrook and Dunedin.

"It's a great ground, marvellous surface, and there have been many fabulous games played there by both Otago and the All Blacks.
"We'd like to leave that ground with fond memories," he added. "I'm sure the ground would like to close with fond memories too -- not like the last two test matches.
"We enjoy being here, enjoy being in Dunedin... Some of us spent a bit of time down here, which brings back memories, good memories, very good memories, very enjoyable memories."

Henry, of course, was referring to his student days in Scarfie City, but he also revealed he has experienced some, er, glorious moments of his own on the Brook - across the codes too.

"I managed to waddle over for a try in the left hand corner against University for Union. It was about 1942 I think. It was much to everyone's surprise, apart from mine, which really annoyed me. I think one of the forwards fell over as he was coming to tackle."

And in cricket?

"I played for Otago against Fiji, of all teams, and a [Fijian] guy scored about 160 off 80 balls. I was standing behind the sticks watching the ball go over the boundary all day. So there's been a few enjoyable occasions at Carisbrook."

But when told that iconic Dunedin student pub the Gardies was also closing this weekend, the smile faded from Henry's face.
"That's very sad -- closing two very iconic venues in the same weekend is ridiculous. I would have thought they would have got their timing a bit better."

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