Bob Scott was a game changer

NICHOLAS BOYACK
Last updated 10:50 20/11/2012
HUTScottweb
NICHOLAS BOYACK
One of our best: Bob Scott regularly attended Petone Old Farts dinners organised by the late Mike Whatman. This photo was taken in March 2007.

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The Petone - and New Zealand - rugby community is in mourning with the death of legendary All Black fullback Bob Scott.

Although he did not play for the All Blacks during his time with Petone, he sits alongside Ken Gary and Tana Umaga as the greatest players to have worn the famous blue and white jersey.

He rose to fame as a member of the Kiwis who toured Great Britain after World War II. They were widely regarded as one of the best teams of all time.

At a time when Britain was recovering from the trauma of war, the Kiwis lifted morale with their attacking rugby and enthusiasm for the game.

The team's heart and soul was Scott, who 50 years before Alan Hewson and John Gallagher reinvented All Black fullback play with a relentless attacking game. His philosophy was that fullback was not the last line of defence but the best spot to attack from. As well as being a wonderful ball handler, Scott could kick goals. In the days of heavy leather balls, he would knock it over from halfway.

Fred Allen recently picked his All Black team of the last 90 years and had no hesitation in choosing Scott as his number 15.

Scott joined Petone in 1954, having retired after the All Blacks tour of Great Britain. When news got out that he was coming, season tickets for the Petone Rec sold out in just a few hours.

Don Griffin put a tribute on the Petone website recalling the impact he had on club rugby.

"We were privileged to have seen him perform these intrepid moments of deception at the Petone Rec. With the ball in his hands, most opponents realised that it was beyond their ability to make contact with him.

"On one occasion I remember the University flanker and All Black Bill Clark virtually conceding defeat as he turned and applauded Scott's deft sidestep and clearance that left him grasping at thin air."

Griffin also noted that Scott "brought to Petone a new and vibrant rugby culture" based around the menswear shop he ran with future All Black Andy Leslie.

"The nerve centre was his shop in Petone, where he held court throughout the day. He would talk to anyone and everyone about the game he loved so much. In many ways he was a man ahead of his time. He preached unrelentingly the virtues of the running and passing game and spent hours teaching those willing to listen, and there were some who wouldn't, how to lift their performance and win games by letting the ball beat the running man."

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Former business partner Leslie said Scott appeared to be a man who would live forever.

Scott played just 17 tests for the All Blacks but will always be remembered as a man who changed world rugby. It was a measure of the impact he had on the game, that Saturday's test between Italy and the All Blacks began with a minute's silence in his memory.

In later life, Scott moved to Whangamata but always kept his interest in Petone. He was a regular visitor to the club and especially enjoyed being part of a series of Old Farts dinners.

Robert William Henry Scott, MBE, February 6, 1921 - November 16, 2012.

- Hutt News

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