11 January 2021
From The Vaults
Extracted from 'Babbled of Green Fields' by Denzil Batchelor The New Zealand full-back was nineteen years old, and he was the only man in the side who played every match of the tour [NZ to UK, 1925]. He was only five feet nine inches high, but he was that phenomenon among athletes, a massively built man trained as sharp set as a greyhound. He seemed to be made of mahogany. His legs were new-stripped glistering tree-trunks. His head, set on his short neck which would have buckled a guillotine, was crowned with blue-black hair, brushed back over his scalp. He had the poise of a panther: always on his toes, bent forward to spring to the kill. His eyes were no adjunct to a smile. They were for ever staring unwinkingly to the horizon, in the search for prey: the eyes of a falcon. He tackled with the sound of a thunderclap, and punted low and deep, gaining fifty yards with a wet, heavy ball with contemptuous ease in the teeth of a forward foot-rush. His unique feat was to gather a ball off the toes of a phalanx of forwards and - disdaining to fall on the ball - smash his way with it, generally backwards, through the whole ravening pack. He had played five-eighths for Hawkes Bay, learning to open up the game for his three-quarters. New Zealand only bothered to choose one full-back for their touring side. If they had chosen one half as good as Nepia he would have done the job for them. About the Author- Denzel Stanley Batchelor was a renowned journalist, writer, playwright and broadcaster who often wrote about sport. Born in Mumbai in 1906, he witnessed first-hand the 1924 touring New Zealand side, for which Nepia played. A contemporary of CB Fry he penned at least 30 books. This extract was taken from 'Babbled of Green Fields. An Autobiography'.
Follow the World Rugby Museum onFacebook
02 November 2020
05 October 2020