The McLook rugby collection

A personal collection that tells the story of Springbok rugby

Joe Karam - the man who would have kicked the All Blacks to victory in 1976 Add Video

Attached is coverage of Joe Karam's test debut. His New Zealand team was described as "the worst All Blacks of all time", while the Welsh were "the greatest ever". Yet New Zealand won, courtesy of Karam's kicking - and Keith Murdoch, who tragically was banished from the tour less than 48 hours later. Notice how the great commentator Bill McLaren describes nearly every kick that Karam lined up as "vital". Even more remarkable was Karam's unshakeable temperament in the context - the Welsh HATED these All Blacks. Alex Wyllie was spat upon by the crowd when he had to go off injured. The hostility continued after the game and was was part of the reason that the unstable Murdoch over-reacted that night at the Angel Hotel in the heart of Cardiff. Yet there is Karam in the middle of it all, kicking vital penalty after vital penalty in his test debut. SURELY he would have done the same in South Africa in 1976, if he hadn't gone to Rugby League for a few thousand dollars - not for the money, but more on a matter of principle. A remarkable man, as his championing of David Bain has confirmed in the last few years. A game of two halves. The All Blacks, courtesy of Kirkpatrick, Wyllie, Sutherland and Going dominated the play in the first half, with great contributions from Peter Whiting in the lineout, accurate up-and-unders from Burgess - and Karam kicked the points from the pressure. Just after halftime the Welsh scored a try out of nothing, and put the young All Blacks under the hammer. From there a combination of some All Black indiscipline and the occasional Welsh 'Hollywood' (and they complained about Andy Haden in 1978?!) made it a mighty close run thing. But Karam never faltered.

Posted by Kimbo on March 2, 2014 at 1:08 PM 7606 Views

Post a Comment

Oops!

Oops, you forgot something.

Oops!

The words you entered did not match the given text. Please try again.

Already a member? Sign In

34 Comments

Reply Kimbo
9:19 PM on April 3, 2014 
All Blacks 1996 says...
Yes I thought of Doug Rollerson as well. Why wasn't he picked to play full back against the 1977 Lions if he was playing that well in 1976?


Like Brian McKechnie when picked as an understudy to Bevan Wilson on the tour to France in 1977 (then Wilson got injured, and McKechnie had to play the tests), Rollerson in the late 1970s was regarded as a utility.

You use utilities to fill gaps on tours, not usually to play in tests, especially at home when you supposedly have a wider range of options.
Reply All Blacks 1996
8:17 PM on April 3, 2014 
Kimbo says...
Umm, as per previous posts, the adminsitrators should have managed the situation better so that Joe Karam WAS available.

The second - probably Mains WHO should have been played in the test matches on the 1976 tour anyway. The first person you pick in a team, ESPECIALLY when playing South Africa? Your goal kicker...

Or they could have picked a genuine utility like they did throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Someone like Doug Rollerson, who made the end-of-year tour to Argentina in 1976 could have fitted the bill. Or Eion McRobbie of Counties may have been may have been in his prime

Yes I thought of Doug Rollerson as well. Why wasn't he picked to play full back against the 1977 Lions if he was playing that well in 1976?
Reply Kimbo
7:52 PM on April 3, 2014 
All Blacks 1996 says...
So which two full backs do you think the selectors should have picked for South Africa in 1976?


Umm, as per previous posts, the adminsitrators should have managed the situation better so that Joe Karam WAS available.

The second - probably Mains WHO should have been played in the test matches on the 1976 tour anyway. The first person you pick in a team, ESPECIALLY when playing South Africa? Your goal kicker...

Or they could have picked a genuine utility like they did throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Someone like Doug Rollerson, who made the end-of-year tour to Argentina in 1976 could have fitted the bill. Or Eion McRobbie of Counties may have been may have been in his prime
Reply All Blacks 1996
7:45 PM on April 3, 2014 
So which two full backs do you think the selectors should have picked for South Africa in 1976?
Reply Kimbo
7:11 PM on April 3, 2014 
All Blacks 1996 says...
OK Kimbo and all. who should the two All Black full backs have been in 1976, given that Karam had walked the road to perdition?

At the time I thought Laurie Mains was a safe choice, and a young Kit Fawcett would come good. Well with the benefit of hindsight we can say the selectors got it wrong.

Ken Rowlands springs to mind from Bay of Plenty, but he was a Karam/Mains style of full back, and would he have been the solution?

In all honesty I think the New Zealand full back cupboard was pretty bare in 1976. Tell me if I am wrong.


No, you aren't.

New Zealand, other than Bevan Wilson for a couple of test matches (especially his debut in the 3rd test of the 1977 Lions series) NEVER filled the fullback position successfully UNTIL...

Allan Hewson, the first genuine running fullback the All Blacks ever had in the HO de Villiers/Gysie Pienaar/JPR Williams/Andy Irvine mould was picked - and only then as a late replacement for the injured Darryl Halligan in the 1st test against Scotland in 1981. When Hewie scored 20 points, including two tries against the Scots in the 2nd test a month before the Boks arrived he more-or-less cemented his place.

Not that the "sporting" (irony!) folk of Canterbury ever saw it that way. In hindsight they were badly wrong. Hewson was a wonderful player, and match winner, a reliable goal kicker, had a safe pair of hands (ok - he sometimes had to wear mittens, but so what! It helped him do his job) an attacking genius. He was also a transition away from the traditional George Nepia "Horatius at the bridge" fullback. Just wish he hadn't made the positional errors that contributed to Ray Mordt's first two tries in the 3rd test of 1981. Then again, he set up Stu Wilson's try in that same match, and kicked the goal that mattered.
Reply All Blacks 1996
6:45 PM on April 3, 2014 
Rudi van Schalkwyk says...
I am glad the All Blacks brought Kit Fawcett to South Africa in 1976.

Rudi, there was a report in a NZ newspaper the other day saying Kit Fawcett was experiencing financial difficulties in his business life. Why don't you send him some money to help out an old friend?
Reply All Blacks 1996
6:41 PM on April 3, 2014 
OK Kimbo and all. who should the two All Black full backs have been in 1976, given that Karam had walked the road to perdition?

At the time I thought Laurie Mains was a safe choice, and a young Kit Fawcett would come good. Well with the benefit of hindsight we can say the selectors got it wrong.

Ken Rowlands springs to mind from Bay of Plenty, but he was a Karam/Mains style of full back, and would he have been the solution?

In all honesty I think the New Zealand full back cupboard was pretty bare in 1976. Tell me if I am wrong.
Reply Kimbo
3:57 PM on April 3, 2014 
Rudi van Schalkwyk says...
I am glad the All Blacks brought Kit Fawcett to South Africa in 1976.


Says it all, doesn't it!
Reply Rudi van Schalkwyk
5:49 AM on April 3, 2014 
I am glad the All Blacks brought Kit Fawcett to South Africa in 1976.
Reply All Blacks 1996
5:36 AM on March 8, 2014 
Kimbo says...
It was only when they started getting coverage of the ARL (now the NRL) from Australia in 1990, that Union officials realised they had to get their act together, and their game live on TV. So thanks Rugby League for improving the lot of NZ Rugby fans!

Comrade Kimbonescu you inadvertently highlight one of the issues where New Zealand in general managed to shoot itself in the foot. You do not get anything for nothing, and the price we had to pay was making league socially acceptable to the masses, As a result our country is in a crisis that threatens our way of life.
Reply Kimbo
4:35 AM on March 8, 2014 
All Blacks 1996 says...
I do remember the NZRFU having difficulty selling the advertising rights for the 1985 Auckland Canterbury fixture, and the famous 1979 Counties Auckland Shield challenge. I think they were shown live when Toyota stumped up the money at the eleventh hour to secure live coverage.


The 1979 game was shown live. The 1985 game wasn't. Neither was the Wellington vs. Canterbury and Canterbury vs. Counties games of 1982 (the two matches that started the great Canterbury Shield era).

I do remember the second half of the Auckland vs Waikato Shield game of 1980 being broadcast live. What a game that was! An 18 year old Arthur Stone scoring an intercept try (off a Tim Twigden pass! How did he ever become an All Black? Must have been Ron Don pulling strings from the Grammar club!) and Waikato became the only 2nd division team to ever win the Shield. My family was living in Hamilton at the time. Shield fever hit big time! I can still remember the Waikato XV - Roger Litt, Bruce Smith, Arthur Stone, Gary Major, Murray Taylor, John Boe, Doug Phillips (who had been in the squad that won it in 1966!), Brian Morrisey, Geoff Hines, Miah Melson, John Sisley, Hud Rickett, Kiwi Searancke, Pat Bennett (captain), and Paul Koteka. Local heroes - Magic!

In fact about the ONLY games that used to be shown live during 1981-1990 were test matches. The rest got condensed down to a 1 hour delayed package between 5 and 6pm on a Saturday, or between about 10 to 11pm if it was a midweek game by a touring team like the 1981 Springboks, 1982 Wallabies, or 1983 Lions. Same with inter-provincial and Ranfurly Shield games.

It was only when they started getting coverage of the ARL (now the NRL) from Australia in 1990, that Union officials realised they had to get their act together, and their game live on TV. So thanks Rugby League for improving the lot of NZ Rugby fans! :)
Reply Kimbo
4:19 AM on March 8, 2014 
All Blacks 1996 says...
Thank you Kimblenski for putting my uncomplicated remarks into a more complicated context for everybody to analyse.


You have your specialty. I have mine :)
Reply All Blacks 1996
9:15 PM on March 7, 2014 
Thank you Kimblenski for putting my uncomplicated remarks into a more complicated context for everybody to analyse.

I do remember the NZRFU having difficulty selling the advertising rights for the 1985 Auckland Canterbury fixture, and the famous 1979 Counties Auckland Shield challenge. I think they were shown live when Toyota stumped up the money at the eleventh hour to secure live coverage.
Reply Kimbo
7:57 PM on March 7, 2014 
All Blacks 1996 says...
I always said it was a mistake to put thuggery league on television.


Again, you inadvertently highlight one of the issues where New Zealand Rugby in general, and the NZRFU in particular managed to shoot itself in the foot.

Despite the availability of technology all throughout the 1960s, the NZRFU refused to allow live broadcasts of rugby games. The first permitted was a Wellington College secondary schools game in 1967 - ironically featuring future chairman Jack Sullivan's son.

The pressure became especially great after 1968, when the third test against the French that year was the first completely pre-sold ticket game in NZ rugby history. So the TV folks could argue that broadcasting the game live would not affect the gate. The problem for the NZRFU was that they also scheduled other inter-provincial games in different venues on the same day as test matches. So a Canterbury vs West Coast Ranfurly Shield game in 1972 actually ran at a loss!

Instead of seeing the bigger picture, and re-scheduling those games, they foolishly refused to allow test matches against the 1971 Lions to be broadcast live. The NZ rugby public usually had to wait until the next evening to see the coverage. Just recently I tracked down on youtube some coverage of the test debut in 1962 of an old All Black in our club. As he was in a student flat at the time, and didn't even have a TV, it was the first time he had ever seen the coverage when I passed it on to him - so poor was the broadcasting and formal promotion of the game in that era.

It wasn't until the 1972 Wallabies game against Hawkes Bay that they allowed an international game to be telecast live, and the first test match broadcast live in NZ was the 3rd All Blacks vs Wallabies match of the same year. In contrast, the Brits, French and Aussies had been allowing live broadcasts of rugby tests since the 1950s (the South Africans didn't have TV until 1976 - and allowed satellite broadcast of the All Blacks vs Springboks games of that year with no hesitations).

Even as late as 1985 the NZRFU was still shooting itself in the foot in the PR broadcasting stakes by refusing to allow live coverage of the epic Canterbury vs Auckland Ranfurly Shield game of that year - and the cancellation of the All Black tour to South Africa that year, ironically, meant all the international players were available and turned the game into a thriller, one of the greatest games in NZ rugby history.

So who do you think exploited Rugby's foolish absence from live TV sports broadcasts? Yep, you guessed it - Rugby League. On the same day the All Blacks lost the 1st test of the 1971 series against the Lions, the sports viewing public at least got to rejoice in watching a New Zealand sports victory live - the Kiwis beat the Kangaroos 24-3 at Carlaw Park, Auckland.

Like I said, some of the best promoters of New Zealand Rugby League were Rugby Union administrators!

Other sports would have given their right arm to have the chance of live broadcasts. For example, the great gold medal-win by the New Zealand Rowing Eight at the 1972 Munich Olympics - when they smoked the full-time and probably doped-up East German communists , and the quasi-professional Americans - was only by delayed coverage. Remember them crying with joy on the victory dais, while they played "God defend New Zealand" for the first time at the Olympics? Even that was delayed coverage once the tape was flown from the other side of the world in the following week. Only arrogant rugby, even though they had repeatedly turned down the opportunity for live coverage got the first live international satellite broadcast.
Reply All Blacks 1996
5:11 PM on March 7, 2014 
Oh Kim Jong-bo you describe those halcyon days when New Zealand was an uncomplicated place, when we had our priorities sorted out. The people were uncomplicated as well, a bit like me 40 years on.

I always said it was a mistake to put thuggery league on television. Our country has been tainted by the new priorities of the left. If only Chairman Rob could have a second coming to fix it all.
Reply Kimbo
3:58 PM on March 7, 2014 
Actually, one other useless but maybe interesting factoid about this video.

It reflects the priorities of New Zealand that the first live satellite broadcast ever made on the country's TV network wasn't

1. Coverage of the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers or Martin Luther King Jr.

2. Nor the moon-landings

3. Nor the Vietnam War or anything else politically significant on the world stage in the 1960s or early 1970s.

Instead, it was THIS game.

In the early hours of Sunday, December 3 1972 New Zealanders got up in their hundreds of thousands, and for the first time got to see the All Blacks live, instead of just listening to the radio.

It used to be one of my thrills growing up to set the alarm clock and watch these sorts of games in the early hours.

I remember Beegee dislocating his hip against France in 1977

We had a black-and-white TV, so the gloom when the All Blacks won the grand slam against Scotland in 1978 was even more impossible to decipher. It was like listening to radio, actually, as you had to rely on the commentary to tell you Bruce Robertson had scored the winning try. In fairness, it was so dark even Graham Mourie, who was on the field, congratulated the wrong player the visibility was so bad! It was probably fateful that the coverage ended that way, because it was one of those frustrating games where the satellite feed was interrupted for the first 20 minutes or so of the game, and you had to listen to a radio feed. So you listened in horror as Bruce Hay scored an early try for Scotland off a couple of All Black mistakes that made the game much harder and closer than it should have been.

Ironically, apparently the same thing happened in NZ with the great Gareth Edwards try in the 1973 Barbarians game. Everyone could hear that he had scored, but couldn't see anything until the pictures of the game game through after halftime. Unreliable TV coverage was a fact of life in the 1970s! They would always give some explanation, like, "the satellite feed has been dropped in Dubai", and you'd try and figure out why a technician in some rugby-ignorant country should be disrupting our pleasure!

And that sublime win against Wales in 1980.

Happy memories, with the familiar ritual of having to get up and quickly make a hot cup of cocoa and a snack, brushing away the sleep from your eyes, while the adrenalin built in anticipation of the game.
Reply Kimbo
5:23 AM on March 7, 2014 
All Blacks 1996 says...
I really hope you are wrong about Flourbomber, I like him just the way he is. Please do not try to change him.
I am a simple guy, and I am sorry if you think I am trying to amuse you. it is just how I think. I know you are cleverer than me, but I just think at a lower level than you do. Sorry Monsieur Kimbeau.


No Phil - you are not simple. Just uncomplicated
Reply All Blacks 1996
3:32 AM on March 7, 2014 
Kimbo says...
Flourbomber may rise to the bait like Marx Jones to a protest rally, but I think even he is starting to twig. But whatever else, we appreciate your successful attempts to amuse. Keep up the good work.

I really hope you are wrong about Flourbomber, I like him just the way he is. Please do not try to change him.
I am a simple guy, and I am sorry if you think I am trying to amuse you. it is just how I think. I know you are cleverer than me, but I just think at a lower level than you do. Sorry Monsieur Kimbeau.
Reply All Blacks 1996
3:25 AM on March 7, 2014 
Kimbo says...
A word of advice, Phil: If you are going to have a stir, you maybe need to be a bit more subtle than simply adopting wholesale the politics, values and persona of Tupper from 'Foreskins lament'. Although, to give credit where it is due, your vocab is a bit more sophisticated than, "Whadarrrya!"

Ah gee shucks Kimbo, thanks for the compliment mate. I am feeling all self conscious now, nobody has ever praised my vocab before. I used to be a dunce at school, and you have really boosted my confidence.
Reply Kimbo
11:09 PM on March 6, 2014 
All Blacks 1996 says...
Herr Kimbau you have already delivered your cruelest blow suggesting I was a leaguie. Nothing can hurt now, call me a socialist and I can take it on the chin, but a thuggery league supporter is below the belt mate.


he he he.

True story: A few years ago a chap pulled into my driveway one Saturday night, as my front door light was the only one on in the street. He had run out of petrol.

We got talking and I agreed to drive him round the corner so he could fill up a can at the local petrol station. He also mentioned he played League for the local club (I may have had my Ponies shirt on so it prompted him to mention the fact). He also started mentioning lots of cheap cars he could help me get a hold of through the local gang he belonged to.

By the time I dropped him off, and twigged he seemed very concerned about the presence of the police helicopter that had just appeared in the neighbourhood skies above such that he took off into the night real fast , even an Inspector Clouseau like me could work out what the hell was going on.

My defense if I had ever been charged with acting as an accessory to the theft of a vehicle was that I originally come from Otago, and we don't have social problems like League down there so I was hardly expected to be suspicious as soon as he mentioned his sporting code.

Having said that, my best mate was a Leaguie, who used to despair of how All Black back lines used to play in the past. "Why the hell don't they run at gaps like we do in League?" was his constant complaint watching some leaden-footed and unimaginative All Black teams.