Quiz former first five-eighth Mike Mohi on the secrets to the success of the 1961 Napier Boys' High School first XV rugby side and he's quick to reply.

"Fitness. We were really fit and probably a little bit ahead of our time but it was chicken shit compared with today's standards, which are phenomenal."

Mohi and former centre Denis Smith were in reminiscing mode in the countdown to this weekend's first reunion for the team which became known as "The Dream Team of 1961."

The side, which was coached by the late Dave Briasco, a former science teacher, played 19 games and won 18 of them - all four of their interschool fixtures, 11 of their 12 matches in the Napier under-23 competition and all three of their games against invitation teams.


"Back then there wasn't the Super 8 programme like there is these days. Playing in the under-23 competition we would come up against club teams like Waikare which would often have 50-year-olds playing," Mohi recalled.

"Because of that we were often a bit cocky when we played our school fixtures. On one occasion we were lucky to beat Lindisfarne College and Denis scored the winning try," Mohi said pointing to Smith.

Mohi, now 76, had three years in the first XV and in 1961, his final year, won the goalkicking cup despite kicking in bare feet.

"Bishop [future Magpie Ian Bishop who would go on to score 631 points in 96 first class appearances for the Magpies between 1963 and 1972] was our regular kicker. He had a pair of new hard nosed boots and I was the only one in bare feet," Flemington's Mohi recalled.

A father of three daughters including Hinewehi Mohi who sung the national anthem in Maori at the 1999 Rugby World Cup, Mohi, was no stranger to receiving the cane during his school days.

"I remember Honk Henderson was the principal at the time and I visited his office on the day before one of our games. He told me he didn't want to hurt me before the match but I had to fake being a bit sore when I walked past his secretary on the way out so she would think I got the treatment."

"Yes no doubt about it ... Mike was the team clown," remarked Smith who only had one-year in the first XV.

"While Mr Briasco was a nice guy and did an excellent job in building the team culture he didn't have to do too much because we had so many good players," Smith recalled.


"I have no doubt the grounding I got playing for that 1961 team set me up for my first class career which followed."

Smith, who is also 76, played club rugby for Clive for 14 years and then went on to coach various Clive teams for 18 years. Both of his sons, Phillip and Glynn, both played first XV rugby for NBHS.

Smith played in 16 of the 19 fixtures, scored 15 tries and kicked nine conversion and two penalties. He went on to become Magpie No 1001 and scored 147 points in 73 first class appearances between 1964 and '70.

Mohi played in all 19 games and scored 12 tries and kicked two conversions. He had a few games for the Hawke's Bay B team until he had to have some knee ligaments removed after a crash tackle ended his playing career.

He reckons his biggest achievement on the rugby field after his school days was sidestepping All Blacks and Magpies legend Kel Tremain.

"Tremain had the ball and scored under the posts," he recalled with a laugh.

Three members of the 1961 side, Smith, Bishop and winger, the late Doug Curtis, played for the Magpies during the 1966 to 1969 Ranfurly Shield era.

While the 1961 team will have its first reunion in 58 years the 1969 first XV is also having a reunion. Ten members of the 1961 team, their wives and three wives of deceased players will attend the reunion.

It will begin with a get together at the Clive Rugby Club and East Pier tonight.

Tomorrow morning they will pay respects at the Hastings War Memorial Cemetery grave of team member and Borneo and Vietnam veteran, Sergeant Joseph (Joe) Murray of NZ SAS, who died in 2014.

This will be followed by lunch and supporting the 2019 Sky Blues in their Super 8 fixture against New Plymouth Boys' High in Napier. Tomorrow night a dinner for all reunion attendees will be held at NBHS.

For many of the remaining 10 members of the 1961 side it will be the first time they have caught up with each other since their school days.

Along with Murray and coach Briasco, four other members of the 1961 team, captain Bernie Tuck, Andrew Campbell, Curtis and Malcolm Gilray, are dead.

The full 1961 team was: Bernie Tuck (captain), Mike Mohi (vice captain), Doug Curtis, Denis Smith, Ian Bishop, Gerald Chappell, Kim Morgan, Joe Murray, Kirby Taylor, Malcolm Gilray, Doug Callaghan, Ken Geenty, Andrew Campbell, George Ngaei, Mel McLachlan, John Gahagan, Tom Castles, Reg Vautier.