Saturday, February 10, 2024

England v Wales at Twickenham, 1970

I was nine when this game was played and can't claim to remember it, though I think I remember Keith Jarrett's match in 1967 - as an 18-year-old debutant he scored 19 of Wales's 34 points against England.

What I do recall about the 1970 game is the press coverage beforehand, as there was excitement that England had picked a new winger called Novak. And as far as my memories go. he was universally known as "Kim" Novak after the actress and film star.

And you can see here what the fuss was about. As England built a lead he first flattened J.P.R. Williams in the tackle and then scored a try. But this was the England rugby team of the Seventies, so it was bound to end in disappointment. You didn't so much support them as suffer with them.

One unusual incident early in the game was that the referee had to be replaced after colliding with Gareth Edwards. Edwards himself didn't last the game, which is why, according to Rugby World, J.P.R. is taking the kicks and Bill McLaren is being indulgent about his misses.

I was surprised Barry John didn't take the penalties, as he was known for popularising place kicking with the instep rather than the toe of the boot.

John does appear mortal in these highlights, but it is his drop goal that makes sure of Wales's comeback victory.

There are noticeable differences with the way the game is played today, and not just in the physique of the players, who in 1970 were all amateurs.

The blindside winger throws into the line out, no lifting is allowed in those line outs and the scrums form much more quickly than they do today.

And Nigel Starmer-Smith is even penalised for a crooked feed. As Brian Moore frequently complains, that is a law the referees appear to have agreed among themselves to stop enforcing.

1n 1970 Kim Novak was a dental student. Not long after he qualified, he moved to North America and became a professor of periodontics.


Neil Hickman said...

You comment on the physique of the players.
I do idly wonder whether rugby wouldn't be considerably improved (as well as the potential for serious injury from 19 stones of beef moving at speed being considerably reduced) if they trialled a rule that players must weigh a maximum of 14 stone.

Jonathan Calder said...

I think it would. One more practical rule change that would help would be going back to allowing substitutions only for serious injury. There would be no more 20-stone props who only last 50 minutes.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to see some of the fans (presumably English) waving Union Jacks.

Jonathan Calder said...

We English have a habit of seeing Britain and England as the same thing. I think it was not until Euro 1996, for which Scotland also qualified, that England fans adopted the England flag en masse, and it has stuck ever since.

Crewe Gwyn said...

Limiting substitutions would, I feel, be a positive step. Personally I would allow two tactical, others only for injury.