Rugby: Bob Scott a complete footballer

Bob Scott
Bob Scott
Bob Scott used to put on halftime barefoot goalkicking exhibitions but it was what he did during games which won him even more admirers.

Scott, who was one of the best fullbacks to pull on an All Blacks jersey, died this morning at his home in the Coromandel aged 91. He was the oldest living All Black and that mantle passes to good friend (the pair were best men at each other's weddings) and former Canterbury wing Wally Argus, 91.

"Bob was a much admired player, regarded by many as the complete fullback who played the game with passion and courage," New Zealand Rugby Union Chairman Mike Eagle said.

"Many will remember Bob as one of the greatest players to pull on the No 15 jersey and he was certainly a hugely popular member of the teams he played for."

Scott played 52 games for the All Blacks, including 17 tests, after making his debut against Australia in Dunedin in 1946 but initially played rugby league for Ponsonby before switching to rugby when he joined the army in 1942.

He served in Italy during World War II and afterwards toured Britain, France, Germany and New Zealand with the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces team before being picked for the All Blacks for their first post-war test series against Australia in 1946.

Scott admitted he wasn't the quickest player, relying more on instincts and skill, and is generally regarded as being ahead of his time. He was a running fullback, in an era when most fullbacks tended to stay at home, and was also a handy goalkicker.

"For me there will never by anyone as great as Scott," former commentator Winston McCarthy wrote. South African No 8 Hennie Muller described him as, "Altogether, the greatest footballer I've ever played against in any position".

Scott initially retired from representative rugby in 1951 but played one game for Auckland in 1952 and was persuaded to make himself available for the 1953/54 All Blacks tour to Britain.

He had a brilliant tour, playing in all five tests including the shock defeat to Wales (the last time Wales beat the All Blacks), and was given a huge ovation when walking off Cardiff Arms Park after the All Blacks beat the Barbarians 19-5 at the end of the tour.

It was his last major game in an All Black jersey. He ended his career playing club rugby for Petone - large crowds still flocked to watch him - and appeared in a number of invitation teams over the next few seasons.

It was during festival games or at halftime in matches he would referee that he sometimes gave demonstrations of barefoot goalkicking, frequently landing goals from halfway. His best kick was from 65 yards (59.4m) in Hawera. "I had a pretty good sense of timing," Scott once said.

He was an exceptional allround sportsman. He was a scratch golfer who played at the New Zealand Open and was also a very good softballer and would probably have played for New Zealand if a national team had existed then. He played bowls to a high standard, and two years ago won the Rugby [bowls] Tournament in Mt Maunganui.

Outside of rugby, Scott ran a successful menswear shop in Petone - his assistant there was Andy Leslie, who later became an All Black captain - and he also helped disadvantaged children and served on periodic detention boards.

Scott was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1990, and in 1995 was awarded an MBE for services to sport.


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