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.
Gloucester's win in Treviso last week means that they need a bonus point win against Bayonne on Saturday evening to secure a home quarter-final (kick off 8pm), but Tim Taylor wants the team to focus on the performance first and foremost.
Billy Burns and Man of the Match Richard Hibbard spoke to GRTV after the 41-0 win in Treviso, on a day when preparations weren't ideal. They felt the team's attitude was key and also praised the travelling support.
Matt Scott was again in impressive try scoring form for the Cherry and Whites on Saturday, and the Scotsman laid praise on his fellow backs for their attacking skills in a big 55-19 win over Worcester Warriors
Jonny May spilled blood for the cause on Saturday, before going on to score the first try in the 55-19 Aviva Premiership victory over Worcester. He told GRTV that the win was a reward for the hard work the squad have been putting in.
The Gloucester Rugby Heroes are back this month, and the huge array of past stars of Cherry and White, with a sprinkling of sporting legends and TV stars will assemble to take on the South African Legends on Sunday 29th January at Kingsholm.