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Keen observers . . . Members of the 1962 North Otago side at the Ranfurly Shield game are (from left) Bill Pile, Neville Gard, Tom Conlan and Max Eckhold. PHOTO: GUS PATTERSON

Watching North Otago challenge Otago for the Ranfurly Shield last Friday stirred memories of one of the union’s most famous days.

Bill Pile, Neville Gard, Tom Conlan and Max Eckhold formed more than half of the backline of North Otago’s 14-13 win over Australia in 1962 – and watched the Ranfurly Shield game together in Oamaru last week.

Pile, who played club rugby for Maheno, scored the winning try in 1962 with 10 minutes to play.

“We had a lineout on our 25, and I said ‘we’ll put the ball out with a bit of determination, and they wont stop me’,” he said.

“It was a team effort. Everybody played their guts out – we were determined.

“And still good mates to this day.”

North Otago players celebrate as Bill Pile scores the game-winning try to beat Australia 14-13 in 1962.

Gard said the North Otago team “went all right that day”.

“We scored with about 10 to go and it was all about defence.”

The game was played at the Oamaru Showgrounds

Of the team that took the field in 1962 for North Otago, 13 or 14 of the players still lived locally, Pile said.

Pile’s rugby career was cut short when he suffered a knee injury.

Without today’s sports science, it meant he only played for North Otago for four years.

Today’s rugby game was a different beast to that of the 1960s.

“A ruck was a ruck – you couldn’t grab a grab a guy and chuck him out the side.

“Now, if you tackle someone and try and get the ball, you get penalised – that’s crazy.”