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Thames Valley players reunite to remember famous 1962 victory

Thames Valley rugby team which defeated Australia 16-14 in 1962. Centre, front is coach Norm McMillan, 94.

JILL CLEAVE/STUFF

Thames Valley rugby team which defeated Australia 16-14 in 1962. Centre, front is coach Norm McMillan, 94.

Although they might not be as mobile as they were on the rugby field 55 years ago you could not take the sparkle out of the eyes of the surviving members of the 1962 Thames Valley rugby team who held a reunion last Saturday.

This was the famous team that defeated Australia 16-14 despite having to play most of the game with fourteen men.

Sports writer Phil Gifford was a special guest as he was present at the game and he articulated in glowing terms about his boyhood heroes.

Fullback Terry Shaw was the butt of much humour about his wobbly drop kick which won the match but he spoke fondly about the team’s captain the late Kevin Barry.

Liam Barry responded on behalf of his father and left everyone in no doubt that this game was one of Kevin’s very special memories.

Winger, Ray Wells paid a fitting tribute to the late Ron Kerby and then admitted that perhaps he didn’t mind being tackled by three Aussies at once as it left the opening for the centre Trevor Kilpin to score his try.

Bill Walsh, Alan Wilkinson and Maru Rangi – the quiet men of the team said little and just enjoyed being in the company of their team mates.

There was much repartee between the two “hard cases” of the team the loose forwards Doug Mold and Garry Higgins which caused great amusement.

The lock forward. Jim Darrah (now the father figure of the team) looked fit enough to still be able to demonstrate his lineout skills.

He acknowledged absent friends with special mention of the late Rex Holden (prop) and Jim Mita (wing).

Hooker, Andy Townsend highlighted the fact that this Australian team were no mugs as it contained 10 players who played in the test four days later.

Prop forward Jim Maxwell, the baby of the team, is still wondering where his team mates were when he scored his try as he is only surrounded by Aussies in an historic photo.

Doug Brown and Ian Jenkins, reserves on the day spoke of their disappointment at not being able to get on to the field because of the no replacement rule.

Trevor Kilpin and Phil Gifford did a great job of keeping the narrative moving all under the watchful eye of the 93 year old coach, Norm McMillan.

Family members who attended thoroughly enjoyed the occasion and most of the team managed to attend the heartland match later in the day and they were proud of the spirit and commitment shown by Thames Valley against the power house Wanganui team.

 

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