Trhe Otago Rugby Union is encouraging the public to get to the ‘Brook’ for a day to remember on Saturday, August 6. involving the rugby community on the day is a key focus for the Otago Rugby Football Union as the curtain is finally drawn on Carisbrook.
Carisbrook is my ground. I was born on a hill overlooking Carisbrook in Dunedin, and watched the All Blacks play the mighty 1956 Springboks when the late Ron Jarden scored an intercept try for the All Blacks to clinch a 10-6 win in the first test of the tumultuous series of 1956.
I was there is 1959 when Otago beat the Lions 26-8 and some weeks later saw Don Clarke kick 18 points for a victory over the Lions and the Evening Star headline screamed: Clarke 18, Lions 17.
From Mum and Dad's bedroom window I could see Carisbrook, and if 1 walked 50 metres to Benfell's garage, I could watch a test match from there.
I remember the day in 1960 I played a match for Otago schoolboys against Southland, in front of my grandfather, and felt so proud.
I could run from my house down the hill to Carisbrook in less than 10 minutes. I met most of the visiting test rugby and cricket teams in the late 50s and 60's. Perhaps my fondest memory was in 1959 meeting that great Irish winger, Tony O'Reilly a few days before the first test at Carisbrook.
But there's something about Carisbrook, the iconic international rugby ground situated in working class south Dunedin, that has always evoked a certain charm, a certain aura
Right: The greatest ocassions of all at Carisbrook have been the Otago-Southland fixtures. Soputhland currently hold the coveted Ranfurly Shield.
The last official first class game at Carisbrook this Saturday 6 August 2011 will see Otago play local rivals Southland in a rare afternoon ITM Cup game, kicking off at 2.35pm. This game will be preceded by the Dunedin premier metropolitan club final and a junior march-past, involving all junior clubs from throughout the Otago region. The day will also link history and future with two additional games on the hallowed turf. An Otago Legends XV will square-off against their Southland counterparts and looking towards the future, the Taieri and Eastern under 13 teams will also contest their final to kick the day off at 10.30am.
‘We are planning a day at Carisbrook that involves and acknowledges the many people, clubs and organisations who have been a part of rugby at this great ground over the years’ commented Otago Rugby General Manager Richard Reid.
‘Aside from the rugby on the day, we are also running two very important events to acknowledge those people who have made contributions both on and off the field. Our Legends of Carisbrook Black-tie Dinner on Friday night before the big day, will acknowledge some of the great Otago past players, while on match-day we are hosting 150 invited guests from around the region in the Team Otago Lounge. Both events will be an opportunity to reminisce, and also allow us to thank those people on behalf of Otago Rugby’ added Reid.
The Legends of Carisbrook Black-tie Dinner, which will be held at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Friday 5 August, sold out within a week, and with current pre-match ticket sales already reaching 3,500, it is expected that the weekend will be a big draw card for the local rugby community.
‘The day is significant and we have chosen a suitable piece of entertainment following the final whistle that all those in attendance will relate to and will allow us to close the door in an appropriate way’.
The Otago Legends XV is a side that includes former All Blacks and Otago greats. The two Otago record holders, Richard Knight (170 games) and David Latta (161 games) will be joined by a number of players who have returned to Dunedin for this match.
Both Knight and Latta are looking forward the match, and the opportunity to run out onto Carisbrook was an opportunity not too be missed.
‘I haven’t seen some of the boys for a while, so it will be great to catch-up and tell a few stories about the old days. It many ways it’s about the memories, and the chance to spend a day at the brook in the final hour will be very memorable’ commented Knight.
'It was a great idea to bring the boys together for a run on Carisbrook for the last time. As a player, I spent a lot of time at Carisbrook over my career and it will be fantastic to be a part of the day’ commented Latta.
One unique aspect of the Legends game is that jersey number 22 will be auctioned at the Friday night black-tie dinner, and the lucky auction winner will get 15 minutes on the field with the Otago Legends XV.
Tickets start from $15 for adults and all children are $5. Tickets can be purchased from the Carisbrook ticket office on Burns Street or from all ticket direct outlets or visit www.ticketdirect.co.nz
Otago Legends XV
Pita Alatini, Steve Bachop, Matt Carrington, Paul Cooke, Richard Knight, Brendon Laney, Dave Latta, Rob Lawton, John Leslie, Simon Mailing, Brent McCormack, Mike Mika, Kelvin Middleton, Nick Moore, Reuben Parkinson, Kevin Putt, Taine Randell, Arthur Stone, John Timu, Brendon Timmins & Kupu Vanisi
Key Timings – The Last Day At Carisbrook – Saturday 6 August 2011
10.00am – Gate open
10.30am – Under 13 Final – Taieri versus Eastern
12noon – Dunedin Premier Club Final – Taieri versus Harbour
1.30pm – Otago Legends XV versus Southland Legends XV
2.00pm – Junior march past
2.35pm – ITM Cup – Otago versus Southland
Otago's memorable Moments At Carisbrook
1936 Otago beat Southland 16-3 in first successful Ranfurly Shield defence
1949 Otago complete six successful shield defences despite having 11 players in South Africa with the All Blacks.
1950 Otago beat the British and Irish Lions
1957 Otago’s last successful Ranfurly Shield match (v South Canterbury)
1959 Otago beat the Lions
1963 Otago beat England
1966 Otago beat the Lions
1972 Otago beat Australia
1975 Otago beat Scotland
1978 Otago beat Australia
1980 Otago beat Fiji
1989 Otago beat Canada
1990 Otago beat Canada
1991 Otago beat Soviet Union
Otago won the NPC for the first time (note: no finals format)
1992 Otago beat North Harbour in NPC semi-final in first match in NZ to go into extra time
1993 Otago beat the Lions
1994 Otago beat South Africa
1998 Otago beat Waikato in NPC final
Peter Bush (79), the doyen of sports photographers in New Zealand, has photographed many tests at Carisbrook, after first starting as a photographer at The New Zealand Herald in 1948. His memories of Carisbrook are all good, from the first test match against South Africa in 1956 to the freezing British Lions test in 1983.
"I remember Mark Irwin, the Otago prop, having to go off in 1956 because he had a broken collarbone or something. Those were the days when there were no replacements so he just stood on the sideline with his parka on. He wasn't retreating from the sideline. Those were great days for Otago rugby," Bush said.
We'll remember Carisbrook particularly for the afternoon tests: the smoke from thousands of cigarettes drifting across the ground, the chants and the roar of the crowd, the heroes whose deeds on the green sward enraptured us in the winter months.
We'll never forget you 'Carisbrook'because, as long as the game is played in New Zealand, Carisbrook will be an integral part of the All Black test story. But I will remember Carisbrook for her diversity for I have seen the Indian Hockey team play here after their victory at the Melbourne Olympics, great athletes such as Murray Halberg, Neville Scott, John Landy and Merv Lincoln run the 'Fesitval Mile', cricket greats such as Bert Sutcliffe, Ken Barrington, David Shepherd, John Reid and Glann Turner, Frank Cameron and Alec Moir play on her hallowed turf, and pipe bands, marching girls and acrobats giving displays.
When the last game of rugby is played on Saturday afternoon as the winter cold bites Carisbrook and supporters and players head off for a Speights, 103 years of history will be locked away in many memories, and least 56 years in my misty mind.