Thursday 30th May 2024
HomeBrian’s DiaryEncounter with a Pinetree

Encounter with a Pinetree

Up for sale – Brian’s long-held framed rugby memorabilia.

Well, I think we all agree what a great month we’ve had with the All Blacks giving a rugby lesson to South Africa. I feel a bit sorry for the ‘Boks and hope they recover their form as, for more than 100 years, they have been our greatest opponent.

Over the past few weeks, we have sadly noted the passing of one of our greatest ever All Blacks, Sir Colin Meads, which leads me to mention a chance meeting I had with him some years ago.

Although I can’t remember exactly when this took place – I’m sure Colin had retired from rugby by then – I was working at the Morrinsville Star and was returning from a meeting in Hamilton. Coming into Morrinsville, there’s a hotel known to locals as the ‘top pub’ and, being a hot day, I stopped for a quick beer before heading home. I made my way into the private bar at the front and saw someone leaning on the bar; I recognised him immediately.

The first thing he said was simply, “What are you having?” The barman walked over and poured my beer. A couple of minutes later, I reciprocated by buying this other patron a drink. It was then that the patron, Colin, started up a conversation by asking where I was from. When I replied “Morrinsville”, he asked if I knew the Clarkes. I said I did know Ian and Don – who were both All Blacks. So, Colin went on to tell me how much he liked the Clarke brothers and we discussed many of their great feats.

The great man also said he was starting some promotional work with the IHC. My eldest son Michael is handicapped, and when I told him this, he gave me a pat on the back and said something like, “keep your chin up.” The ‘Pinetree’ may have been a big, rough man, but he was very sentimental.

After a couple of hours and several more rounds (of eight ounce glasses, in those days), we shook hands and went our own way. I must say it was a great experience and one I have recalled fondly ever since.

Some years later, Reay and I attended a fundraising auction for the Fred Hollows Foundation. Sir Colin had donated a framed photo of himself during his playing days which I felt I just had to bid for; what’s more it was a great pleasure to have the man himself present us with our purchase. When I mentioned our Morrinsville meeting, he said he remembered it – I was thrilled.

Since then, this wonderful memento has hung in our boardroom but, unfortunately, we no longer have the space to display it properly. As a result, I have reluctantly decided to sell it with the hopes that another rugby fan will get as much enjoyment from it as I have. If anyone is interested, please email me at to arrange to have a look at this fine piece of memorabilia.

Next month, because my lovely mare Willowbrook has had a foal, I want to run a ‘name the foal’ competition, so, be prepared. See you all then with full details. And….go the All Blacks.

Brian Neben publishes Rural Living and is also an avid lifestyle farmer

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