Marist half Bob Irvine played seven Tests for New Zealand in the mid-1960s.
Irvine represented Canterbury against Great Britain in 1962 and South Island in a win over South Africa in 1963, before earning a spot on the Kiwis’ 1965 tour of Britain and France as halfback understudy to captain Bill Snowden.
The 24-year-old debuted against Bradford and came into the Test team for the third clash with Great Britain, a 9-all draw at Wigan, with Snowden sidelined by a groin injury. Irvine held his spot for all three Tests of the 3-0 series loss to France and finished with 16 appearances on tour.
Unavailable for the 1966 home series against Great Britain, Irvine returned for the 1967 tour of Australia and featured prominently in all three Tests. He was moved to five-eighth for the second Test at Lang Park and defied an ankle problem to snaffle the ball from the great Reg Gasnier and scarper 35 metres for a try. Returning to halfback, Irvine’s tenacious performance was integral to New Zealand’s honourable 13-9 loss in the third-Test dead-rubber at the SCG.
Irvine’s stellar performances garnered New Zealand Player of the Year honours for 1967 – the last Canterbury-based player to collect the award – but injury ruled him out of contention for the following season’s World Cup.
He headed across the Tasman to captain-coach Walgett in northern NSW from 1970-73 and returned to have coaching stints at Marist-Western Suburbs, Kaiapoi, Riccarton and Sydenham.
NEW ZEALAND (1965, 1967)
7 Tests – 1 try (3 points)
19 tour matches – 3 tries (9 points)
-1965 Kiwis tour of Britain and France
-1967 Kiwis tour of Australia