Dave Gallaher: Out of History into the legend

It is hard to make a post on Dave Gallaher. In a time when the news (such as the death of sir Edmund Hillary) last a few hours, maybe even a few days, in everyone's memory, who's spending 5 minutes time to think about Dave Gallaher's contribution to rugby?

You may have not noticed but there are thousands of references in the world of rugby to this man's contribution that we don't even pay attention to:

  • Have yo seen this picture? If you are an All Black supporter or if you have ever wanted to get a piece of information on the rugby of the Long White Cloud Land, you may have visited http://www.allblacks.com/ and seen this picture. Among the great legends of the All Blacks, the first on the left, you will find a nineteenth century-born gentleman. He is Dave Gallaher.

  • Take a look closely now the next one. See any sign of Dave Gallaher in it? No? Really? Well, perhaps you might have noticed at the right side of the picture a blue player over the white line with a number 2 on his back. Well, he's the hooker, isn't him? Nothing wrong about it? Perhaps you should know that it was first Dave Gallaher the one who first assigned the task of throwing the ball in the line-out to the hooker (playing himself at hooker in a number of times) and that has remained unchaged for almost one hundred years.
  • Do you know the origin of the name "All Blacks? Do you think it refers to the colour of the shirt wearing a silver fern on it? Well, you are quite right, but not fully right. You might know that the name was first used during 1905 tour of the Home Nations. A New Zealand side (captained by Dave Gallaher, of course) went on to play 35 matches including tests against England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France. They won 34 and lost only to Wales. The team caused an immense expectation from the start. On the newspapers, even the "decadence of the white race" was used as a way to explain the incredible sweeps these men from New Zealand delivered to all the teams in front of them. They went soon to be known as the "All Blacks" but prior to this name, the impressive fashion in which these men played - anyone carrying the ball and being able to play as a back - won them the name of "All Backs". It was Dave Gallaher the first who devised this way of playing for which still nowadays is New Zealand rugby admired even in the bitterest losses.
In 1906, when the incredibly successful team came back home, they were welcome as heroes. Rugby in New Zealand was soon stablished as a national sport and Dave Gallaher's tactics, captaincy and ability had played a key role in it.

On the field, Dave Gallaher played either hooker or wing forward. He was quite tall for a hooker (1,83m was really tall for 1905) and specialiced at wing forward, with a play that raised a lot of controversy during the Originals tour, as the europeans couldn't believe that his play was absolutely legal.

With his natural tactical ability and motivation skills he was clearly candidate to be an outstanding coach and that he did, first for Auckland, and at last for the All Blacks until he volunteered for the World War.

When he was shot in 1917, Dave Gallaher moved out of the History into the Legend.

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