Flashback Friday: Canterbury’s First Grand Final

Flashback Friday: Canterbury’s First Grand Final

As the Massetti Cup top-four cool their heels this weekend and prepare for an assault on the Pat Smith Trophy, Flashback Friday relives the inaugural Canterbury Rugby League men’s premiership grand final.

With Linwood at the forefront of lobbying, the CRL agreed to introduce a four-team finals series for the first time in 1967, culminating in a grand final being played for the first time.

The clubs that featured in the ’67 competition were Addington, Christchurch, Hornby, Kaiapoi, Linwood, Marist, Papanui and Sydenham.

It was also one of the most notable years in the history of the code, with the unlimited tackle era coming to a merciful end and the four-tackle rule put in place (it would become the now-familiar six-tackle rule in 1971) – perhaps the most significant rule change since rugby league’s formative period.

The 1967 season was a relatively quiet one on the domestic representative front for Canterbury, while New Zealand’s sole assignment was a three-Test tour of Australia.

Marist’s Bob Irvine featured at halfback or five-eighth in all three matches against the green-and-golds, while outstanding young Linwood front-rower Bill Noonan played one Test. The Kiwis, who went down 3-0 to an Australian side containing future Immortals Reg Gasnier, Johnny Raper and Graeme Langlands, were coached by legendary Canterbury player and coach Lory Blanchard.

Back on the club scene, it was Hornby and Addington that won through to the inaugural CRL grand final.

Hornby, who had won the previous three championships under the old format, fittingly celebrated their 50th anniversary as a club by winning the historic decider, outlasting Addington 17-10.

A late, long-range try finished off by Robin Moffatt sealed the title for Hornby, while former Kiwis winger Brian Langton (pictured) was also among the try-scorers for the Rex Woodgate-coached victors. Another former Kiwi, forward Ian Drayton, booted four goals.

Addington would have to wait until 1982, under the tutelage of Frank Endacott, to win the club’s first grand final.

1967 GRAND FINAL

Hornby 17 (R. Moffat, D. Condick, B. Langton tries; I. Drayton 4 goals) defeated Addington 10 (P. Turnbull, N. Dewes tries; G. Te Aho 2 goals). Referee: Peter Yaxley.

Sources: Canterbury XIII (1987) – By John Coffey; The Hard Yards: Rugby League in Canterbury 1912-2012 (2012) – By John Coffey.

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