Photographer's images capture wild old days

By Andrew Stone

Jeff Young lies broken after a bout of rough justice at Lancaster Park, as captured on camera by Peter Bush. Photo / Peter Bush
Jeff Young lies broken after a bout of rough justice at Lancaster Park, as captured on camera by Peter Bush. Photo / Peter Bush

The image, more than 40 years old, is a reminder of rugby's brutal old ways.

The prostrate player is Welsh hooker Jeff Young, out cold in the Lancaster Park mud, his jaw shattered. Towering above Young are Brian Lochore and Colin Meads, a hint of concern on their faces.

Photographer Peter Bush, who caught the moment in winter 1969, recalls referee Pat Murphy asking: "Anyone see what happened?"

What happened, recalls Bush, was that Young ignored warnings about tugging on All Black jerseys in the lineout.

"They said to him 'knock it off' but he didn't. There was a ruck and when the ruck broke up Young was lying on the deck. When he fell he was lying with his face in the ground. One of the All Blacks bent over and gently turned his head so he didn't keep breathing in the mud."

From the sideline, someone suggested to Murphy that perhaps Young had "slipped in the mud".

Bush: "Murph said, 'Fair enough, that looks okay to me,' and they moved on.

"These were the days when the players sorted these things out themselves. They weren't thugs or vicious but if you stepped outside the great unwritten rules you could expect comeuppance."

The dramatic picture of Young comes from a collection of more than 100 mounted photographs, mostly black and white, selected from Bush's vast catalogue. They feature in a show, Hard on the Heels, which opens at the Viaduct today.

Essentially it is a history of the game seen through an All Black lens over the second half of the 20th century when Bush, who is nearly 81, had few, if any, peers. He is with the team at home, and away, in Britain, Europe, Australia and South Africa, on and off the paddock.

Games were played in the afternoon. "I tell people we were favoured with a magic ingredient," says Bush from his Wellington home.

"They ask me if it was a a secret lens or something. No, I say, it's an old-fashioned thing called daylight."

Hard on the Heels opens today from noon at the BackingBlack HQ on Customs St West in the Viaduct Basin.

- NZ Herald

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