Sacred Heart College Magazine: “With justifiable pride the First XV can look back on the 1965 season with joy. It was a year in which they won the Auckland Secondary Schools Championship and the Marist Quadrangular Tournament. To win the former is no mean achievement when one considers the limitations imposed by our restricted roll of 470 pupils.”
1965 was an eventful year in the World. The Vietnam War escalated, the All Blacks beat the Springboks in four-match test series, Thunderbirds debuted on television and Sacred Heart College won their first Auckland Championship since 1953. Surprisingly, it remains their last.
Captain: Paul Cooney
Players: William Tapper, Michael Dew, Gary Carter, Joseph Oak, Michael Poland, Philip Peacocke, Brian Donnelly, Paul Williams, Richard Day, Robert Skinner, John Carroll, Brian Gilhooly, Rory Clifford, Peter McCabe, Bruce Fraser-Jones, Peter Cotterall, Terry Matehaere, John Kirton, Kerry Coleman
Points For: 201
Points Against: 70
Tries Scored: 44
Top Points Scorer: Brian Gilhooly, 87
1A Auckland Championship
v Otahuhu College – Won: 9-3
Sacred Heart College Magazine On The Otahuhu Match: “On looking back over the matches played this season, we found this one the hardest of all”
Although Otahuhu played against the wind in the first half, their ability to hold onto the ball meant that Sacred Heart had to defend staunchly to prevent their line from being crossed. When Sacred Heart finally managed to relieve the pressure, Brian Gilhooly kicked three penalties, including a 55 yard effort, to give Sacred Heart a 9-0 lead at halftime. The second half followed a similar pattern with Otahuhu controlling the ball and Sacred Heart defending stubbornly. Peter Cotterall and Rory Clifford were the best forwards on the field for Sacred Heart.
v St Kentigern College – Won: 12-0
The match was played at Eden Park on College day in atrocious conditions. Brian Gilhooly again kicked three penalties and Gary Carter scored the first try of the season, as Sacred Heart outmuscled St Kents, 12-0. St Kents’ best period in the match was at the start of the second-half when they consistently threatened the Sacred Heart line. For Sacred, lock Robert Skinner was praised for his excellent performance.
v Mount Albert Grammar School – Won: 14-5
Mount Albert Grammar were unbeaten Auckland Champions in 1964, so this match would be a key fixture in deciding the outcome of the 1965 championship. Sacred Heart produced their best performance of the season, against the school that eventually finished second in the championship, to score four tries to one and win handsomely. Richard Day was a hero for Sacred Heart in this game, scoring two tries; his second from a 45 yard run. Philip Peacocke also scored from a 30 yard run and Number 8 Peter McCabe crashed through several would-be tacklers to score. Tragically McCabe would die in a motor accident soon after he left school.
v Avondale College – Won: 19-3
Despite wet conditions, Sacred Heart played open and attractive rugby to win this game easily. Five tries were scored, by Gary Carter, Brian Gilhooly, Paul Cooney, Terry Matehaere and Paul Williams.
v Auckland Grammar School – Lost: 3-15
The only loss of the season in the Auckland championship was against Auckland Grammar School. Despite an even forward struggle, Sacred Heart was out-gunned by the remarkable individual performance of Roger Whatman, who kicked five drop goals, including one from 55 yards and two from 40 yards. Brian Gilhooly kicked Sacred Heart’s solitary penalty. Whatman later played fullback for Auckland. Note: Incidentally, the world record in an international for most drop goals in a match is also five, by Jannie De Beer for South Africa against England in the 1999 World Cup! Whatman is in good company.
v St. Peter’s College – Won: 21-12
St Peter’s started this game well and had Sacred Heart under constant pressure. However Sacred Heart’s greater polish resulted in four tries and a nine point win. Tries were scored by Gary Carter (2) Robert Skinner, Terry Matehaere and Paul Williams. Brian Gilhooly kicked three conversions.
v Penrose College – Won: 23-3
In bleak and greasy conditions Sacred Heart produced a “sparkling” performance to easily account for Penrose. Terry Matehaere (2), William Tapper, Paul Cooney and Richard Day scored tries. Brian Gilhooly added a try, penalty and conversion.
v King’s College – Won: 8-3
Auckland Grammar led the championship standings by a point heading into this game but a shock defeat at the hands of St Kentigern College gave Sacred Heart the chance to move ahead of Grammar with a victory over fourth placed King’s. A Richard Day try and Brian Gilhooly’s conversion and penalty gave Sacred Heart a deserved win on the back of fine defence and a superior forward effort.
v Takapuna Grammar School – Won: 23-3
Two weeks passed between the King’s fixture and this game, in which victory would seal Sacred Heart the championship. After a vigorous and even start by both teams, William Tapper crossed for a try for Sacred Heart which opened the floodgates. It was 17-0 at halftime and in total Sacred Heart scored seven tries to post a resounding victory. Other scorers for Sacred Heart were: Gary Carter (2), Terry Matehaere, Peter McCabe, Paul Cooney and Brian Gilhooly. The Sacred Heart College magazine asked why the 1965 team was so successful.
“How was it that the 1965 side succeeded? Possibly because it was so well balanced in both backs and forwards, and because it played consistently sound, fundamental rugby. The forwards were fiery, skilled at scrummaging and competent in lineout work which enabled the backs to capitalise on the good ball received. The team also had a very reliable goal-kicker.”
After a 16-6 win against Senior B Champions Tamaki College and a narrow defeat to Gisborne Boys’ High School, one of the best teams in the country in 1965, Sacred Heart entered the Marist Quadrangular tournament as favourites. And they didn’t disappoint!
v St Paul’s College – Won: 9-3
On a soft field, the game was a fierce battle between two good packs. The difference was the goal-kicking accuracy of Brian Gilhooly, who slotted three penalties. In the other game on day one, Xavier College beat St Bernard’s by 9-8 to join Sacred in the final. If Sacred Heart could win just one more game, they would add the Marist Quadrangular title to their Auckland 1A Championship.
v Xavier College – Won: 35-3
The last game of the season saw Sacred Heart post its biggest victory of the year to seal the title emphatically. Captain Paul Cooney scored three of his sides seven tries to reinforce his undoubted quality. Brian Gilhooly added four conversions and two penalties.
First Class Players From 1965 First XV
Brian Gilhooly and Terry Maehaere have since passed away, as have five members of this team, including Brian Donnelly who was later an MP for New Zealand First. Donnelly and John Kirton, who became Head of Prisons for the Justice department, were perhaps the most notable achievers from the 1965 First XV after leaving school. Kerry Coleman, who is the General Manager of the Auckland Catholic Diocese and Paul Cooney, a prominent lawyer in Tauranga, have also done very well.
- First Class Games: 17
- First Class Points: 60 (3 tries)
- Taranaki Colts: 1967
- NZ Juniors: 1967
- Wellington: 1968
- Hawke’s Bay: 1973
- First Class Games: 15
- Thames Valley: 1967-1971
- NZ Services and NZ Police: 1973-1974
- First Class Referee: 1989
- First Class Games: 30
- First Class Tries: 2
- Mid Canterbury: 1969
- South Island Universities: 1971
- South Island Universities: 1971
- NZ Juniors: 1972
- Canterbury: 1972
- King Country: 1974-1977
Brother Michael Taylor
Championship coach Brother Michael Taylor is still working at Sacred Heart College. A colossal figure in the school’s history, Brother Michael is one of the finest First XV coaches that the school has produced. Had Sacred Heart not split into two schools in 1955 (St Paul’s College was born from the split) it’s quite possible that Brother Michael and Sacred Heart would have won many more 1A championships. As it was, Sacred Heart was a perennial contender for Auckland glory during his tenure, 1963-1971
The Numbers: 1963-1971
1A Champions: 1965
1A Runners Up: 1963, 1966, 1967, 1970, 1971
Marist Quadrangular Champions: 1963, 1965, 1966
Note: Brother Michael coached 4A, 5A, 6A teams to Auckland Championships as well.
Near Misses: 1963-1971
During the Brother Michael years, Sacred Heart suffered many near misses for the Auckland title, with Auckland Grammar School and St Paul’s College their chief nemeses. In 1963 Sacred Heart had all but won the championship when leading Auckland Grammar 6-3 in the dying moments of the last game of the season. Leo Davis had kicked two penalties and the Sacred Heart forwards had produced a passionate performance to foil the dangerous Grammar backs: Brother Michael Taylor recalls what happened next:
“We had the better of this game but Grammar had an outstanding midfielder named Grahame Thorne. Towards the end of the game he got the ball and breached our defence, which had been superb all game, I knew once he found space he would keep on going and score. The game was drawn and Grammar won the title.”
Dave Henderson, Sky Sport contributor, former Wellington half-back, and Wellington College Old Boy from 1960-1964 recalls a similar incident involving Thorne.
“I was witness to the first ever Wellington College v Auckland Grammar game at Athletic Park in the late 60′s. My main memory of the game, which I think Grammar won, was of the then unknown Grahame Thorne scoring a try under the posts, then running in a wide arc towards the main stand, arm raised in triumph with a clenched fist, and continuing along the sideline all the way back to his own half of the field. All of us Wellingtonians thought indignantly, “Who is this poser?” We soon found out. A free spirit, a great player and definitely one of the more colourful All Blacks.”
Grahame Thorne played 39 games for the All Blacks and scored 35 tries.
In 1967 another future All Black, Laurie Knight, was captain of the Auckland Grammar First XV. Despite another fine effort, Sacred Heart was beaten in the championship decider by 16-14. Brother Michael recalled:
“Laurie Knight was another player like Grahame Thorne. He had a huge impact on the game and could create things from nothing. I knew the lad would go a long way in rugby.”
In 1970 Sacred Heart was again second and again lost narrowly to Grammar 3-8, but the second placed finish in 1971 would perhaps be the most painful. The championship would be ultimately decided in the game against St Paul’s College. Despite a heroic performance by captain Peter Mahoney (Son of All Black Athol Mahoney), Sacred Heart went down 14-18. The difference between the sides? Bernie Fraser, a future All Black who went on to score 171 first class tries, scored a hat-trick for St Paul’s, including a brilliant try in the last play of the match. Brother Taylor recalled Fraser had a “huge step which created much of our trouble in this game.”
Acknowledgments: Brother Michael Taylor,