The All Blacks: My Selection

Robert J Pope

The Free Lance has ordained that all
   Must pick a team of “Blacks,”
That shall the stormy ocean brave
   And face the British packs;
A sense of duty urged me on
   To honour this decree,
But sorely was I puzzled what
   The personnel should be.
I read reports by ev’ry scribe
   From Auckland to the Bluff,
But very soon I learned that this
   Would hardly be enough;
For there are countless players who
   Are born to kick unseen;
Yet, nathless, mighty champions
   Upon their native green.
The “Oio Examiner” I
   Indeed was forced to scan
To see if there was a mention of
   A real outstanding man;
I found at least, a dozen that
   ‘Twas held, must find a place;
While the Kawa Kawa “Sentinel”
   Had thirteen in the race.
There was seventeen from Auckland,
   And nineteen from Hawke’s Bay,
All positively certainties,
   Whose claims none could gainsay.
Only eight I found in Southland,
   Who were sure to be included;
But from Canterbury’s fertile plains
   “All Blacks” in scores exuded.
 Otago’s quota to the team
   Was put down as eleven,
And five of these were forwards who
   Would grace a team from heaven.
The “Times,” indeed, had qualms about
   The eighteen from outside;
And wound up thus: “Our men have claims
   That cannot be denied.”
I read the Westport “Sun’s” reports,
   And there I quickly learned
Of a full-back and three forwards,
   Who had fern-leaves safely earned.
The “Examiner” of Woodville
   Was but sparing in its claims;
The list of men it termed “foregones,”
   Comprised just seven names.
The Marlborough“Express,” I found,
   Took quite a gloomy view
Of the number of its candidates,
   And put it down as two;
The Nelson “Weekly News” complained
   Of being in the cold;
Yet “Apple Land” had five great backs,
   Perforce must be enrolled.
To Taranaki’s claims I then
   Directed my attention,
And in the “Herald’s” columns, ten
   Had honourable mention.
“These two,” ‘twas said, “must sure find place,
   Let those stand out who must;
But, lacking these, we’d have a team,
   New Zealand dare not trust.”
Such multifarious reading had
   By now my mind perplexed;
The problem of those Twenty-nine
   Was making me sore vexed.
I totted up the certainties
   And found them sixty-one;
But, sixty-ones in twenty-nine –
   It really can’t be done.
I sat me down and scratched my head.
   Now aching – when, anon,
I found I’d made a blunder great –
   I’d left out Wellington;
Then rapidly I conned the notes,
   Of “Drop Kick” and “Touch Line,”
And found the local certainties
   A modest twenty-nine.

Main Location:

Wellington, New Zealand