Hewson puts the boot in 1981 tour

17:00, Jul 22 2011
Allan Hewson
MOMENT IN HISTORY: Allan Hewson lines up his famous penalty that gave the All Blacks a series win over South Africa in Auckland in 1981. Welsh referee Clive Norling looks on.

Thirty years after slotting the penalty that led the All Blacks to win the most controversial rugby series in history, Allan Hewson now says they shouldn't have been playing at all.

Hewson, whose decisive kick came in the dying moments of the final 1981 test against the Springboks, says stopping the tour may have been the best option.

The South African tour divided the country and split households – and Hewson's home was no exception, with his wife Pauline, who is part-Maori, boycotting every game.

The Wellington fullback admits he was selfish at the time, wanting only to play for the All Blacks and not taking any interest in politics. Now he thinks his wife was right.

"I'm 30 years older. The world's changed so much. Looking back, maybe the Government shouldn't have allowed the tour to take place."

The government may have been able to send a message both to South Africa and to New Zealanders had it banned the tour, he says. He now believes politics and sport cannot be divorced. "At the moment, there's politics in everything – business, sport, whatever."

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The tour had become part of the country's history: "It's being taught in schools as a history subject ... so it has some bearing on what's happening today."

At the time, though, Hewson did not think further than how special it was to play in the black jersey – a viewpoint he now describes as "narrow-minded".

"For a skinny little white kid from Petone, it was something that was out of this world as far as I'm concerned, so whatever else was happening at the time ... was irrelevant."

Despite that, he had friends and family who were opposed to the tour. "That was never a problem at home. Friends didn't agree with the tour, but they were still friends."

As for his series-winning kick, which clinched a 25-22 win at Eden Park, he says: "I felt quite relieved it went over so that we'd won and it made it all worthwhile. If we hadn't won, it would have been a nightmare."

The Dominion Post