July 7 1950 – West Coast 11 vs Buller 6.
Nothing very remarkable about the match, just a normal provincial encounter. Nor was the result a surprise, for West Coast in 1950 was a handy side, winning seven and drawing one of their nine matches. Beating Canterbury 18-14 in Greymouth on King’s Birthday weekend may have been the season highlight, but retention of the Seddon Shield through four challenges would also have ranked highly. 1930’s All Black Ron King was the sole selector, and had some talent at his disposal. Wing Joe Gillan and five eight Ray Breeze who both were selected for the South Island and also played in the All Black trials, as did No. 8 George Nelson. Utility back Eric Walker had played for the South Island in 1948 and was to do so again in 1953 as well as playing in a number of All Black trials. Newcomer Alan Lindbom started off as the team’s fullback, was displaced by his uncle Jim Lindbom, was then moved to the wing and did well enough there to be chosen for the South Island Colts XV. He also went on to play for the South Island (1952) and in All Black trials.
What was a little unusual about this match was that it was not played at the West Coast’s headquarters, Rugby Park, Greymouth, but at Cass Square in Hokitika. Since its foundation in 1890 the West Coast Union has played some 425 home games, 371 of them in Greymouth and 51 in Hokitika. (The other three matches were in Whataroa (2) and Harihari.)
It was not unusual for provincial unions to have a second centre where some of their representative matches were played. West Coast was one, Hawkes Bay (headquarters in Napier, some matches in Hastings), Taranaki (New Plymouth, Hawera), Wairarapa (Masterton, Carterton), Nelson Bays (Nelson, Motueka) and Northland (Whangarei, Dargaville) are others.
Most unions now play the bulk of their matches at their headquarters e g West Coast have not played in Hokitika since 1996, Hawkes Bay last used Hastings in the same year, and it is 13 years since Hawera hosted a Taranaki match. An exception is Tasman whose matches are shared between Nelson and Blenheim