Andy Haden dives to save rugby test

11 November 1978

Andy Haden dives at a lineout (WalesOnline)

47,000 Welshmen anticipating the first Welsh victory over the All Blacks for 25 years – and a few hundred banner-waving Kiwis – crowded into Cardiff Arms Park on Armistice Day 1978.

The home crowd had reason for optimism. New Zealand had been thrashed 30–16 by Australia at Eden Park two months earlier, and outmuscled 12–nil by Munster the previous week before struggling to beat Ireland 10–6.

All Blacks winger Stu Wilson scored an opportunist try, but four penalties saw Wales lead 12–7 at half-time thanks. A second Brian McKechnie penalty closed the score to 12–10, but as full-time neared the crowd sang ‘Land of My Fathers’ with increasing conviction.

With two minutes to play, a lineout formed 35 m from the Welsh line. As Welsh hooker Bobby Windsor threw the ball in a second time, All Blacks lock Andy Haden flung himself sideways as if in a C-grade action movie. His locking partner Frank Oliver also fell to the turf, more apologetically and with some assistance from Welsh lock Geoff Wheel. English referee Roger Quittenton awarded a penalty to the All Blacks 15 m infield, on the grounds that a Welsh player had been holding down another New Zealander. McKechnie kicked the goal and the All Blacks held on to win amidst vehement booing. They went on to become the first All Black touring team to achieve the 'Grand Slam' by defeating all four home unions.

After Oliver’s death in 2014, Haden admitted that their actions had been premeditated. So it was ironic that on 1 February 1981 it was McKechnie who faced the infamous underarm delivery from Trevor Chappell at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The taciturn Southlander is remembered for two flamboyant gestures: his triumphant fist-pump after kicking the winning goal in Cardiff, and flinging down his bat in disgust in Melbourne. McKechnie was a journeyman player, yet only Jeff Wilson has subsequently represented New Zealand in both major male sports.

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What do you know?

Dr R Fisher

Posted: 08 May 2020

It may be time for this NZ history site to correct the item on the Andy Haden dive. The video of the incident clearly shows the referee pointing to a Welsh forward at the front of the line-out as the culprit. The referee himself later confirmed he had awarded the penalty for holding down a NZ forward who was jumping. I thought this was common knowledge, but apparently not.