Jarden’s collection on display

BLAZERS, jerseys, ties, shorts, socks and boots from the playing career of New Zealand’s most prolific try-scorer, Ron Jarden, have been gifted to the New Zealand Rugby Museum by his family and are now on display.

Wellington’s champion left winger and star back of his era, Jarden scored 145 tries from 134 first class games (including 16 tests) between 1949 and 1957 and is considered one of the great All Blacks.

Museum Chairman and noted rugby historian, Clive Akers, said other players have since scored more tries, but none at the rate of over one per game as achieved by Jarden.

He scored, on average, one try every 70 minutes, as opposed to current players like Sitiveni Sivivatu, Zac Guildford and Joe Rokocoko who play one-and-a-half games for each try scored.

“We can only wonder how well he would have performed in a later era,” said Akers, “for he played at a time of conservative back play.”

Jarden was also a proficient goal-kicker, totalling 141 conversions and 76 penalties in his career, and developed a successful centre-kick, from which fellow club, provincial and All Black loose forward, Bill Clark, often scored.

The ultimate perfectionist and determined competitor, Jarden was also proficient at athletics, swimming, squash, tennis, golf and sailing.

When Jarden retired at the age of 26, while at the peak of his form, the rugby nation was stunned.

“I had ascertained how good I could be,” he explained, “and recognised that I could get no better. I had achieved my maximum.”

After several years working for Shell Oil NZ Ltd he put his own career on course, and at the age of 30, entered the stockbroking business and soon formed his own firm, R.A. Jarden & Co.

He became a trustee of the National Art Gallery and the National Museum and a director of the Music Federation of NZ and many other businesses.

Jarden’s growing national reputation as an astute businessman attracted the attention of leading politicians and in 1976 Prime Minister Rob Muldoon appointed him chairman of the NZ Broadcasting Corporation.

Less than a year later, however, New Zealand was shocked when Jarden, aged only 47, died of a heart attack after returning home from his regular early morning exercise.

New Zealand Rugby Museum Manager, Stephen Berg, said the museum was grateful to members of the Jarden family – widow, Joan, and daughter, Jennifer – in offering the collection for future safekeeping.

“We were really staggered by its size,” said Berg, “and it rates as one of the best collections received from a single person.”

All Black, Wellington and New Zealand Universities blazers, as well as the corresponding ties, are included among the personal items, as well as a full All Black playing kit of jersey, shorts, socks and boots.

“Having a complete AB uniform is unique in itself, and also a privilege,” said Berg.

He said a well-worn Victoria University club jersey was a particular favourite as it represented a completely different era as far as players’ gear was concerned.

“It shows a lot of wear and tear, and a replacement sleeve, and Joan well remembers repairing it many times. I can’t imagine players of today having to play in jerseys that had been repaired multiple times.”

Another eye-catching feature is the number of international jerseys that Jarden had swapped with some illustrious opponents – Ken Jones (Wales), Andre Boniface (France), Ted Woodward (England), Ian Swan (Scotland), Jim McCarthy (Ireland) and Peewee Howe (South Africa).

“All of the jerseys are in fantastic condition,” said Berg, “and to have them alongside Ron’s personal jerseys adds something special to the display.”

A leather rugby ball was also a standout item among the possessions. It had been presented to Jarden by the Buller Rugby Football Union in 1955 to mark his achievement in becoming the first player in New Zealand to score 200 points in a first class season.

The Ron Jarden display can be viewed at the museum’s Cuba Street premises in Palmerston North up until the opening of its new location in the Te Manawa complex in the CBD in April next year.

Bob Williams

Cliff’s Programmed Project

SIFTING through the New Zealand Rugby Museum’s collection of nearly 13,000 match-day programmes for cataloguing and storage purposes requires a decent amount of discipline, perseverance and patience.

Long-serving museum committee member and retired New Zealand Army Major, Cliff Parker, has all those necessary traits, and he proved the ideal person to handle one of the demanding tasks facing the museum as it prepares for its relocation.

The museum, currently in Cuba Street, Palmerston North, is moving to the Te Manawa complex in the city’s Central Business District, and is in the transitional stage of packing up its 40,000 items for the shift.

Cliff’s project was to collate the massive number of programmes that had been trickling into the museum in “dribs and drabs” over the past 40 years and put them into order and in archival, acid-free storage boxes.

A careful approach was needed and Cliff was up to a challenge that took two months to complete.

“The test programmes were the easiest to sort,” he said, “mainly because all tests are numbered in chronological order. You can pick up any programme and know by the match and the year whether it is test number 24 or 104.”

Cliff also broke up the matches into groupings, such as tests between 1956 and 1964 or 1987 to 1989, after working with a list of all tours involving All Black test/s, making the task a lot easier.

“It was important to have a system, because once you picked up a programme you had to know where to put it.”

Cliff located and itemised more than 360 test programmes of the 465 internationals now played by the All Blacks (following the 20-10 win over Australia at Christchurch in 2010).

“We are missing about 100 test programmes, most of them from the 1904-early 1930s period,” he said. “I’ve completed a master list of those missing programmes, so if an old one does come in, we can check to see if it’s in our collection or not.”

The oldest test programme held by the museum is for the All Blacks’ second official test, against the British Rugby Football Team, at Athletic Park, Wellington, on August 13, 1904.

A graphic of the programme cover for the All Blacks’ first test – against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground on August 15, 1903 – can be seen on the left.

In addition to building up the test programmes, Cliff operated two other international files – for All Black tours overseas and inbound tours to New Zealand.

“With the All Blacks on tour there was also a chronological order to work through,” said Cliff, “and we do have programmes from most of the tours they have made.”

Extra copies of test match programmes are included in these collections, along with the non-international weekend and mid-week fixtures. The oldest away All Black test programme is for the Scotland clash in Edinburgh on November 18, 1905.

Inbound tours also provide 24 folders of programmes, with most tours represented, starting with the 1904 Great Britain side and running through to the visit by the 2005 British and Irish Lions.

Although each match programme is unique in its own right, some are more valuable than others, such as the one for the Great Britain v West Coast-Buller encounter at Greymouth in 1930.

Cliff’s attention then switched to Ranfurly Shield challenges, and he eventually filled 16 boxes containing programmes representing some of the most exciting provincial clashes ever played in New Zealand. The fascination of the shield – which continues to this day – is vividly captured in these records.

The oldest Ranfurly Shield programme in the museum is for Wairarapa’s challenge against Hawke’s Bay at Mclean Park, Napier, in 1923. The holders won 6-0 with future All Black great George Nepia kicking a penalty in his first match for Hawke’s Bay.

Home inter-provincial encounters from 1913 to 2009 are also carefully stacked away in alphabetical order, union by union, ranging from nine boxes for Auckland to two boxes for West Coast. There are even some programmes for the Central Vikings (the resulting team after a brief amalgamation between Manawatu and Hawke’s Bay).

But Cliff’s task did not stop there, as other programmes depicting many other teams, tours, competitions and series needed to be sorted – for Rugby World Cups, Super 12 competitions and International Sevens, Black Ferns and inter-provincial women’s matches, New Zealand Maori, Juniors, Colts, Universities and Services, non-test tours by smaller rugby countries such as Romania, All Black and North Island-South Island trials, the Cavaliers to South Africa, secondary schools and other off-shore international and club games.

And then there were the boxes needed for all the duplicates. Stacks of them!

In the finish, Cliff filled 317 boxes, with an average of 40 programmes per box: “I was instructed not to throw any away”.

“I didn’t know how big the job was until I started,” said Cliff, “and felt the only way to approach it was to think logically, so that’s why I started with the tests. Once I had worked my way through them, I began to realise what I was doing.”

One noticeable difference in the programmes noted by Cliff was how much thicker, larger and glossier today’s ones are compared to those from the early years.

“They were very flimsy then, with some on just one piece of paper, though many of them had lots of advertising. But the quality of the programmes – with the paper, printing and colour – is much better now.”

One of the more frustrating aspects of the job was uncovering programmes, mainly French and Argentinean, which carried no date or year on the cover. And then there was the All Black v Australia “test” programme that turned out to be a tour match involving Australia B!

Though Cliff is not a programme collector himself, he did have a personal favourite – for the Second Test between the All Blacks and Springboks at Christchurch in 1937.

“I was just seven and it was the first time I had seen the All Blacks. I had a good look at that programme.”

And so he might, for it represented a well deserved break from a consuming and detailed task that has provided structure to one of the museum’s most valuable resources.

Bob Williams