The Rise & Rise of Australian Rugby - The Bledisloe Cup: Deluxe Edition
ABC/Roadshow Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 637 mins .
E . PAL
The 2003 Rugby World Cup held in Australia was the biggest sporting event in the world for that year and a huge success for the sport and the local economy. The other benefit is that it has also swayed many part time fans to now be engrossed in the sport they play in Heaven. Along with this 'Deluxe Edition' covering the Bledisloe Cup, we have also seen the release of The Rise & Rise of Australian Rugby – The Grand Slam: Deluxe Edition, both superb productions looking at specific eras in Australia’s sporting history. With both releases being 'Deluxe Editions' containing four discs, a single disc version for each have also been released, these contain the documentary feature along with the extras. The 'Deluxe Editions' contain several relevant games in their entirety, a true bonus for lovers of the game.
Hosted by former Wallaby Peter FitzSimons, this interesting documentary outlines the bitter rivalry that this competition has developed over the years. It features interviews with many stars from both sides of the Tasman and although it may be a little biased towards the Wallabies (well it is about the rise of Australian rugby), it does give a fair viewpoint from our Kiwi neighbours. Although this is technically about the Bledisloe Cup, it is more about the bitter rivalry of these two nations and surprisingly it also focuses greatly on the immense respect.
"Go you good thing!"
Up until the early ‘70s, the Wallabies were easily beaten by the dominant All Blacks time after time. The Kiwis in fact considered the South African Springboks to be a greater rival on the world stage. With the ill fated tour of New Zealand by the Springboks causing major disruption due to the world standing up to apartheid, the South Africans disappeared from the world scene. This left a huge void in the rugby world, as it did in many other sports, and New Zealand saw the Wallabies as an easy target due to their current status as “easy beats”.
Kiwis going to war!
In 1978 the Wallabies toured New Zealand; nothing too surprising there, however the tour was assisted by New Zealand Rugby. The Kiwis helped the Australians gain sponsorship for the tour and although they expected to beat the Wallabies easily, they saw helping their neighbours as a way of helping rugby in general. In many sports a majority of nations would be glad to see their neighbours and rivals crumbling, however this admirable move by the Kiwis further developed a respect between the two nations that had always been there, but was now even stronger than ever.
The icing on the cake for this was when the Kiwis decided to put the Bledisloe Cup on the line in a one off test against the Wallabies in Sydney in 1979. The Wallabies didn’t really know about the cup prior to this and thought it a huge risk for the Kiwis in a one off test, but the Kiwis were extremely confident. The most impressive factor with this one off test is that the Kiwis had instigated it and yet all money raised was to go straight to Australian rugby, something that was in dire straits financially. The Kiwis were happy to help out their neighbours, however the site of the victorious Wallabies team doing lap after lap of honour with their cup was just too much and they vowed it would never happen again – little did they know what a force in world rugby the Wallabies would become. The rivalry between the two nations was now at a peak - and to think the main cause of this was a cup that had been in New Zealand storage for over 30 years.
The Bledisloe Cup is the main focus of this documentary, however it does delve deep into World Cup history. A lot of time is devoted to the first ever World Cup where Australia were expected to win or at least play in the final against New Zealand - especially on home soil - however they failed at the semi final stage. Other World Cups are also included, along with interviews from stars of the game recalling both interesting and humorous stories about their time while playing. It is a fine documentary that is interesting for not only fans of the game, but also for fans of Australian sporting history. It is well produced and includes some terrific archival footage, all balanced well with interviews and narration.
This four disc deluxe edition contains the documentary and extras on disc one with the remaining three disc containing six test matches in full. Matches included are;
Australia v New Zealand - 3rd Test, 9 September 1978, Eden Park Auckland Australia v New Zealand - 3rd Test, 12 July 1980, Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney Australia v New Zealand - 2nd Test, 28 August 1982, Athletic Park, Wellington Australia v New Zealand - 3rd Test, 18 August 1984, Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney Australia v New Zealand - 3rd Test, 6 September 1986, Eden Park, Auckland Australia v New Zealand - 2nd Test, 16 July 1988, Ballymore, Brisbane
This is a great purchase for fans of rugby. The deluxe edition is something that diehard fans will love, offering the ability to relive these great games over and over is a must. Those that are not into rugby enough to sit and watch six full test matches should still take the time to see the documentary, or even purchase the single disc edition as it is terrific viewing. Lovers of the game though and, more importantly, lovers of the Wallabies should really invest in this set.
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and 16:9 enhanced, this transfer contains a vast mix of both archival footage and much more recent studio footage. Both of of the highest quality and even for the footage shot in the early ‘70s, where the expectation was for below par footage, this transfer is quite impressive. The main problems with older footage are clarity and grain. These are both quite constant, however considering the source material, it is much better than expected. Colours are also a little faded and washed out and there are some minor issues with film artefacts.
The interview footage is of pristine quality. Sharpness is excellent with vibrant colours and no problems of note. Grain, film artefacts, edge enhancement and aliasing are all welcome absentees. Subtitles are supplied for the documentary in English for the hearing impaired and these are quite accurate. There are no noticeable layer changes on any of these dual layered discs, so the producers can be commended for placing these in the right spots.
Audio is pretty basic for this release with the only option being a Dolby Digital stereo mix. Being a dialogue driven feature, there is little need for anything else and this mix does a suitable job. Dialogue is always clear on the newer footage, however it is slightly distorted on the older - again, an issue with the source material. Synch is never an issue and there is no real need for any separation. Overall this is an adequate soundtrack that does its job well.
All extras featured on this release can also be found on the single disc release. Considering this is set is sold as a deluxe edition, the additional games featured on the additional discs have been included in the main feature summary and are therefore not featured in the extras section.
Colin 'Pinetree' Meads interacts with Ken Catchpole (1968)
This black and white footage with a running time of 1:10 features All Black Colin Meads pulling Wallaby Ken Catchpole out of a scrum by his leg.
The Up the Jumper Try
This footage of a set play in a local Sydney competition features a rather humorous moment in rugby history. The play involved one of the players stuffing the ball up his jumper and the remaining pack scattering throwing confusion on the opposition as they had no idea who had the ball. The result was in fact a try and this practice was later banned for not being in the spirit of the game.
Stan the Man
Running for 13:07, this feature contains several players commenting on the exploits of Wallaby Stan Pilecki.
The Ella Brothers
Running for 11:08, this feature is a ‘70s production from the television show Weekend Magazine. It looks at the three Ella brothers Mark, Glen and Gary, who were a breath of fresh air to rugby at this time.
Glen Ella 'Captain of Australia'
This interesting extra looks at an incident during the Wallabies tour of France in 1983. Current captain Mark Ella couldn’t be bothered facing the media, so sent his brother Glen in his place. Unsure of dealing with the media, Glen gave some responses that came across as very arrogant and the media reported this the next day. The interesting fact is that they didn’t notice that it wasn’t actually Mark Ella. Running time for this feature is 4:23.
Gordon Bray's 1982 Third Test Review
Gordon Bray presents this review of the 1982 Bledisloe Cup Test. It features training footage and interviews and runs for 2:09.
1991 Bledisloe Cup Preview
Gordon Bray hosts this extra, which gives a preview of the upcoming Bledisloe clash of 1991. It runs for 7:22 and features interviews and training footage.
Qld v NSW 1979
Running for 6:47, this extra features Gordon Bray discussing the history between New South Wales and Queensland as part of a centenary celebration.
Stu Wilson Loses the Cup
This little featurette runs for 1:18 and features All Black captain Stu Wilson recounting how he lost the Bledisloe Cup while the team were celebrating their victory over the Wallabies in Sydney.
Please refer to our Easter Eggs page for details on accessing this bonus footage.
This four disc collection is an excellent look at Australian rugby and in particular the Bledisloe Cup and the rivalry between Australia and New Zealand. The documentary is well-produced and expertly narrated by Peter FitzSimmons, and the bonus of six test matches in full makes this a worthy addition to any rugby fan's collection. Video is generally very good, with the archival footage being the lesser quality although it is better than expected and somehow this aged appearance adds to the feel and puts the viewer in the era it was filmed. The audio is basic and does all it needs to do, there really is no need for a reference quality soundtrack here. The extras are plentiful and entertaining and this overall package is well put together.