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.
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees, speaking to GRTV after the 35-10 over Zebre, was happy with the bonus point win over the Italian side but admitted Gloucester will need to tighten up for the return fixture in Parma.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).