Lions conqueror and former All Black captain Ron Elvidge dies, 96
THE oldest living All Black, and scorer of a legendary match-winning try, Ron Elvidge has died.
The former All Blacks captain died in Auckland on Saturday, aged 96.
Elvidge famously scored the match and series-winning try in the 6-3 third test triumph over the Lions in 1950, despite suffering a bad collarbone injury and facial wound.
The All Blacks were down to 13 men in the era of no injury replacements, after the great All Black and North Auckland centre JB Smith and Elvidge had both gone off injured.
Elvidge needed four stitches to his forehead, and one arm hung loose from a damaged collarbone, but he returned to the turf of Athletic Park.
The Otago second five-eight moved out to the wing and scored the winning try.
He had also scored in the first test on his Carisbrook home ground.
Elvidge never played for New Zealand again.
“My memory of the game is pretty minimal,” he told the NZ Herald in 2017.
“I vaguely remember going over in the corner . . . . I had been hurt, but not too badly; I remember the crash tackle.”
Elvidge was accustomed to dealing with pressure before the Lions tour.
He captained Otago to beat Southland 17-11 and secure the Ranfurly Shield in 1947, and led them undefeated with the Log o’ Wood through 1948.
He led the All Blacks in the final two test defeats on the 1949 South African tour, after Fred Allen got injured. He also applied his medical skills during a rail crash from Rhodesia to Pretoria which resulted in the death of a coal trimmer.
Elvidge specialised in juggling study and rugby while living in Dunedin.
“I don’t think they (the Lions) intimidated me physically, or mentally for that matter.
“They were just as good as us, or even a bit better, so we were wary of what they might do.
“However, it was always an honour to be an All Black.
“It meant you’d played fairly well to be included, but you had to maintain that standard.
“I tried not to subject myself to too much pressure because I didn’t respond well to it.
“I did what I wanted to do most of the time, but conformed as required in a team environment.”
Despite playing alongside greats of the New Zealand game such as Bob Scott, Smith and Allen, Elvidge got more enjoyment at club and provincial level.
“They were top of the tree, but I preferred playing with my university (club) mates because we were together so often, whereas I’d only play about one game in 20 with the others.”
Elvidge played 19 matches for the All Blacks, including nine tests, and 30 times for Otago.
He played club rugby for Otago University and had one season for Union.
Elvidge played secondary school rugby for John McGlashan College.
The oldest living All Black is now 95-year-old former Taranaki winger Roy Roper.
He played one test against the 1949 Wallabies and all four test matches versus the 1950 Lions.