The first comprehensive history of the New Zealand Maori men's rugby team was launched at the Hall of Legends, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand earlier this week with Gloucester's Carlos Spencer named at fly half in the greatest Maori XV.
The live television broadcast included the announcement of a chosen best XV and was the much-anticipated highlight of the night.
Beneath the Maori Moon: An Illustrated History of Maori Rugby by Malcolm Mulholland (Huia Publishers) is a celebration of nearly one hundred years of Maori rugby- the songs, the joys, the battles, the teams and the overseas tours.
In the book the major matches are covered, controversies involving the players and team are answered, profiles of prominent players and administrators are given, as well as the politics behind the side including sporting contact with apartheid South Africa.
The book culminates with a panel of well-known rugby experts selecting the "Greatest Maori XV".
They are: fullback - George Nepia, wing - John Timu, wing - Rico Gear, centre - J.B. Smith, second five - Bill Osborne, first five - Carlos Spencer, halfback - Sid Going, no. 8 and Captain - Buck Shelford, flanker - Waka Nathan, flanker - Zinzan Brooke, lock - Tiny Hill, lock - Robin Brooke, prop - Steve McDowall, hooker - Hika Reid and prop - Carl Hayman.
At the launch, author Malcolm Mulholland noted the disappointment of rugby fans towards the New Zealand Rugby Union over their lack of commitment to the Maori team by 'suspending' them for the current season due to the economic recession.
He also pointed out that many Maori had been shocked by the original decision by the President's Council in South Africa to not allow the team to play the Springboks on their own soil but he was heartened by recent positive developments for the tour to possibly go ahead.
As the next year marks the centenary season of the Maori team, Mulholland proposed a 'World Centenary Tour'. He suggested that the tour begin by playing South Africa in Napier, New Zealand followed by flying over the Tasman Sea to play Australia, then to play all of the home nation sides, ending with a match against the French.
He feels it would be a wonderful opportunity to showcase the best that NZ rugby has to offer, especially one year out from the Rugby World Cup.
Speaking to GRTV after the 40-29 Aviva A League win over Wasps Rugby, Academy Coach Rich Whiffin explained his pride in the squad to overcome a strong opponent and book their spot in next week's Aviva A League final.
Willi Heinz returned from injury to skipper Gloucester to a famous 16-14 win over Stade Rochelais on Saturday evening. Speaking after the game in France, Heinz admitted the win wasn't pretty but was full of courage and a great result for the club.
Billy Burns contributed all Gloucester's points in the 16-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup win in La Rochelle on Saturday evening, but dedicated the victory to the whole squad whilst also praising the travelling support.
Speaking after Gloucester's brave 16-14 win against Stade Rochelais which clinches a European Rugby Challenge Cup final spot, Director of Rugby David Humphreys paid tribute to the way the team had executed the game plan in a hostile environment against quality opposition.
Greig Laidlaw returns to the Gloucester Rugby squad this week, and his inclusion is an important one after a serious ankle injury. The Scottish scrum half is determined to drive the team forward in their European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final in La Rochelle this Saturday.
Gloucester take on La Rochelle in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final in France on Saturday evening, with the Top 14 side the favourites in the eyes of the bookmakers. However, David Humphreys is looking for his side to rise to the occasion against a familiar opponent.
Speaking to GRTV after Saturday's 39-30 Aviva Premiership win over Sale, Mark Atkinson admitted that the performance wasn't perfect but that the team's character shone through in a game that could easily have slipped away.
Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw is targeting a 'unique' finish to his Gloucester tenure in the European Rugby Challenge Cup final at the venue where his professional playing career began, BT Murrayfield Stadium (Friday 12 May).
Gloucester's young United side once again dug deep to take an illustrious scalp, overturning a half-time deficit to earn a 40-29 victory over Wasps and earn a place in the Aviva Premiership A League final.