Old Scores

Old Scores is a 1991 television film jointly produced by New Zealand and Wales, about the two countries' mutual national sport of rugby union. It is notable for the appearance of many legendary Welsh and New Zealand international rugby players in supporting roles. Old Scores was primarily intended as theatrical release in New Zealand but was shown as a television movie in Wales.

Old Scores
Directed byAlan Clayton
Produced byDon Reynolds
Written byGreg McGee
Dean Parker
Music byWayne Warlowe
CinematographyAllen Guilford
Edited byMichael Horton
Jamie Selkirk
Distributed byITV
Release date
  • 25 September 1991 (1991-09-25)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryNew Zealand

Old Scores was directed by Alan Clayton, and the screenplay was by New Zealanders Dean Parker and Greg McGee. McGee has a strong history of dramatic works revolving around rugby, most notably his play Foreskin's Lament. It was produced by HTV Cymru Wales in association with South Pacific Pictures for the ITV Network.


Old Scores revolves around a controversial (fictional) rugby match between Wales and New Zealand which was won by Wales. On his death-bed, the touch judge confesses to failing to disallow the winning try for an infringement by the Welsh scorer. The Welsh Rugby Union president announces that in order to set the record straight, there should be a rematch between the two teams - using the same players who had played the match 25 years earlier.[1]

The teams are forced to re-assemble, each bringing along not only their 25 years of unfitness, but also various skeletons in the closet - most notably the major falling-out between two of Wales's star players, Bleddyn Morgan and David Llewellyn, whose friendship had ended acrimoniously many years earlier. Morgan, had since moved to New Zealand, and initially refuses to play the match. It is later revealed that this is because of a love triangle which had developed between the two and Llewellyn's fiancée Bronwen. He is persuaded to play, for the sake of his country, but there is considerable acrimony between the two players which threatens to disrupt the team's performance.

The film is a blend of drama and comedy - the latter especially revolving around the efforts of the players to come to grips with both their middle-aged bodies and the changes in rugby since their time as international players (rugby was a totally amateur sport in 1966; by 1991 it had become big business). The New Zealand team are a rag-tag bunch whose later lives have taken them in different directions: the team's "hard man" has become a peace-loving Salvation Army officer, one of the team has become a vote-grabbing politician, yet another has become a homeless drunk. All are reassembled and put through their paces by their 1970s coach, "Acid" (a biting caricature by Martyn Sanderson of fabled All Blacks coach Fred Allen). The film culminates in the replayed game, played at Cardiff Arms Park.

According to the Helen Martin and Sam Edwards' book New Zealand Film 1912 - 1996: "The dialogue is witty and characterisations are fine, if deliberately overplayed, but the ending turns the film into a shaggy-dog story."[2] The match ball is replaced by Wales's "lucky ball", an antique taken from the Welsh Rugby Museum by Price. With the scores tied, a shot is taken at goal, but the ancient leather of the ball is not strong enough and it deflates, landing limply on the crossbar where it remains. The final scene of the film shows an official review into the match deciding that it should be replayed again.


John BachEwen Murray
Tony BarryBarry Brown
Roy BillingFrank O'Riordan
Alison BruceNgaire Morgan
Robert BruceJock McBane
Terence CooperEric Hogg
Windsor DaviesEvan Price
Dafydd EmyrOwen Llewellyn
Howell EvansLloyd Thomas
John FrancisDavid Llewellyn
Peter GwynneWinston Macatamney
Glyn HoustonAneurin Morgan
John MorenoReferee
Beth MorrisBronwyn Llewellyn
Robert PughBleddyn Morgan
Martyn Sanderson"Acid" Aitken
Stephen TozerJim Farquhar
Jack WaltersClifford
Neil RossArms Park Crowd Extra
Adrian JuddArms Park Crowd Extra

The cast mixes a number of experienced NZ actors (such as John Bach and Martyn Sanderson), with many rugby players from the 1960s and 70s taking supporting roles as members of the Welsh and New Zealand teams — the latter mostly in non-speaking parts. The players included New Zealand's Ian Kirkpatrick, Waka Nathan, Grahame Thorne, and Alex "Grizz" Wyllie, and Wales's Phil Bennett, Gerald Davies, Mervyn Davies, Gareth Edwards, Tony Faulkner, Dennis Hughes, Barry John, Allan Martin, David Morris, David Price, Mike Roberts, J.J. Williams, and Bobby Windsor. Despite the film's plot indicating that these were the teams from 1966, many of these players did not play international rugby until after this time.

1990s All Black Steve McDowall also appears (and acted as choreographer for the rugby match scenes), as does New Zealand rugby commentator Keith Quinn.

Two of the cast of the film, Grizz Wyllie and Windsor Davies, appeared together in an advertisement for hardware chain Mitre 10 as a result of appearing in Old Scores.[3]


  1. This fictional incident is probably inspired by the real-life incident in the first ever test match between New Zealand and Wales, played in 1905. Wales won the game 5-3 after a "try" scored by Bob Deans was disallowed by the referee who had failed to keep up with play and was 40 yards from the action. The result was a bone of contention between Welsh and New Zealand fans for decades afterwards
  2. Martin & Edwards (1997), p. 155.
  3. Mitre 10 advertisement on YouTube


  • Martin, H., & Edwards, S. (1997) New Zealand film, 1912-1996. Auckland: Oxford University Press (NZ).
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