The Rise & Rise of Australian Rugby-The Bledisloe Cup (2003)

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Released 1-Oct-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Sports Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Colin 'Pinetree' Meads interacts with Ken Catchpole (1968)
Featurette-The Up The Jumper Try
Featurette-Stan The Man
Featurette-The Ella Brothers
Featurette-Glen Ella 'Captain of Australia'
Featurette-Gordon Bray's 1982 Third Test Review
Featurette-1991 Bledisloe Cup Review
Featurette-Qld v NSW 1979
Featurette-Stu Wilson Loses The Cup
Deleted Scenes-From the Cutting Room Floor
Easter Egg
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 108:53 (Case: 165)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Iain Knight

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Peter FitzSimons
David Campese
Stu Wilson
Bob Dwyer
Alan Jones
Stan Pilecki
Mark Ella
Glen Ella
Michael Lynagh
Andrew Slack
Tony Shaw
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Is there any greater rivalry in world sport than that which exists between Australia and New Zealand? Close neighbours, yet a rivalry almost bordering on hatred exists, but at the same time there's a strange mutual respect thrown in as well. Ask many professional sportsmen in Australia from many different sports who they like beating the most, and I'm sure the answer would be New Zealand. I don't think you would even need to ask a Kiwi who they like beating the most. Getting one up on any Aussie is almost a national pastime in the Land Of The Long White Cloud. The biggest rivalry of all between our two nations exists on the rugby field. Rugby (the union variety and not the silly league version) is virtually a religion in New Zealand, and while it is not the number one football code in Australia, it is increasingly popular. The national teams battle out each year in a series of matches for what is one of the biggest trophies (and I mean big - it is literally huge) in world sport - The Bledisloe Cup.

    With the 2003 Rugby World Cup well underway, now seems like a good time to take a look at a couple of recent DVD releases from ABC video that focus on "the game they play in heaven". This documentary recently screened on the ABC in the lead-up to the world cup, but is presented here with some additional footage and a bunch of extras.

    Hosted by former Wallaby Peter FitzSimons, this documentary features interviews with many former players from both sides of the Tasman. They reminisce about all manner of battles, and the matches that shaped the fierce rivalry between the two teams. Right up until the early 1970s the Wallabies were a bit of a joke, and were certainly no match for the New Zealand team - the mighty All Blacks. In fact, up until this time, the Kiwis' greatest rival was actually South Africa, but with the Springboks disappearing from the international scene (due to their government's apartheid policies), the All Blacks needed another challenge, and the Wallabies were ripe for the picking. For many years - the "Woeful Wallabies" as they had been named, were summarily thrashed by the Kiwis: year in, year out. But by the late 1970s, when a new breed of player had started to pull on the famous gold jersey, the tide started to turn. Players such as the Ella brothers of Glen, Mark, and Gary, Andrew Slack, and Tony Shaw started to have an impact. This would lead to a resurgence in the sport, and household names such as David Campese, Nick Farr-Jones, and Michael Lynagh becoming superstars and eventually leading the team to World Cup glory in 1991.

    The programme charts the early days when the team was easily beaten, through to the 1991 world cup in England where they were crowned world champions, and took home the William Webb Ellis Cup. In between, there are plenty of highlights of all the big games against the All Blacks, including their first series win in nearly 50 fifty years and the famous 1991 world cup semi-final. It charts the rise and fall of coaches such as Bob Dwyer and the extremely vocal Alan Jones, and the excitement generated when a young David Campese burst on to the scene.

    Rugby union fans will love every minute of this, and non-fans will surely gain a more significant understanding of the fierce rivalry and mutual respect that exists between the teams on either side of the Tasman sea.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    The video is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, it also benefits from being 16x9 enhanced.

    With the transfer containing a mix of archival footage from the late1970s to the early 1990s and some pristine quality new interview footage, the quality is obviously going to differ greatly. The new interview material is quite excellent. Sharp, clear, and brilliantly vibrant in colour, with no traces of edge enhancement present. It is also presented using the full 1.78:1 screen. The older material certainly suffers due to age, and the poor nature of the analogue broadcast equipment used to capture the match footage. Most of the problems are with the clarity of the image. This material is also presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, so it has probably been cropped top and bottom to make it fit. Nothing seems lost as a result of this cropping, however. Overall there are no traces of edge enhancement, and grain is absent in the new material and not a real issue with the older material. There is no low level noise in either.

    Colours for the new interview footage are superb, benefiting from modern video equipment. They are vivid and vibrant with deep solid saturation. The footage from the 1970s and early 1980s is at times quite washed out, and hazy looking. It is nonetheless serviceable for the task.

    There are no MPEG artefacts. Film to video artefacts are also absent. The new interview footage is free from artefacts, but the older archival footage contains many analogue tape problems.

    There is a set of subtitles available, these being English for the Hearing Impaired. They are quite good, though not completely accurate, but close enough and don't encroach on the screen graphics (details of the games being played or the player being interviewed). They move up the screen whenever any graphics appear on the screen which is a nice touch.

    This is a dual layered disc, but I couldn't spot the layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    A fairly basic audio selection graces this disc. We get a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack as the only option.

    Dialogue is pretty much all this is about, being a narrative and interview style documentary. This is handled well with no obvious problems. The older commentary audio is a little harsh with little fidelity but it does the job expected. There are also no audio sync issues.

    There is no surround or subwoofer use at all

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Featurette-Colin 'Pinetree' Meads interacts with Ken Catchpole (1968)

    Some old black and white footage showing the All Blacks Colin Meads pulling Australia's Ken Catchpole out of a scrum by his leg. Very brief with a running time of just 1:10.

Featurette-The Up The Jumper Try

    This is a funny clip from the local Sydney competition in a match in which a new ploy was tested. The players would form a huddle and one would stuff the ball up his jumper. All the players would then scatter and the opposition was caught flat-footed since they didn't know who had the ball. A try was subsequently scored. Apparently the practice was banned as not being in the spirit of the game soon after.

Featurette-Stan The Man

    A 13:07 series of interviews from various players recounting the exploits of the oldest and largest man in the Wallabies team at the time - Stan Pilecki.

Featurette-The Ella Brothers

    This is a far meatier extra. Clocking in at 11:08 minutes, it is a 1970s production from the television show Weekend Magazine. It is basically a profile piece on the three Ella brothers (Glen, Mark, Gary), who dominated the game for a period in the late 70s and early 80s.

Featurette-Glen Ella 'Captain of Australia'

    Mark Ella was the captain of Australia for the French tour of 1983. But when Mark couldn't be bothered facing the French media in the lead-up to the big test, he sent his twin Glen to face the music and answer the questions. Not being fully aware of how to handle the media, Glen said some things that made the Wallabies look a little arrogant. The next day the press was filled with reports about the arrogant captain Mark Ella. Nobody had picked up that it wasn't actually Mark that fronted the press conference. Running time is 4:23.

Featurette-Gordon Bray's 1982 Third Test Review

    Veteran rugby commentator Gordon Bray previews the deciding 1982 Bledisloe Cup test in New Zealand. Interviews with players and some training footage is included here. Runs for 2:09.

Featurette-1991 Bledisloe Cup Preview

    Similar to the above preview, this is for the one-off 1991 Bledisloe cup match just before the World Cup later that year. Again hosted by Gordon Bray and featuring training footage and interviews with players including a very young John Eales. Runs for a longer 7:22.

Featurette-Qld v NSW 1979

    A much younger Gordon Bray discusses the history between Queensland and New South Wales rugby as part of a centenary celebration between the two states. Runs for 6:47.

Featurette-Stu Wilson Loses The Cup

    All-Black legend Stu Wilson somehow managed to lose the Bledisloe Cup when the team took it drinking with them after they won it in Sydney. In this brief 1:18 interview he recounts how it happened and how he managed to get it back.

Deleted Scenes-From the Cutting Room Floor

    A series of interviews that didn't make the final cut of the program. Various tales and anecdotes are recounted - the best deals with Wallaby coach Bob Dwyer swearing in front of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth at a game. Running time is 6:50.

Easter Egg

    Have a hunt around on the extras menu and you'll find a 1:42 minute Easter egg featuring the programme producer and director Iain Knight trying to slot a rugby ball through the goal from a set kick and a drop kick. He's pretty hopeless, to say the least.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This disc is not available in Region 1.


    This is a comprehensive look at a small slice of the Bledisloe Cup history between Australia and New Zealand. Peter Fitzsimons is a great narrator with an obvious passion for the game he played at the top level.

    The video is a mixed bag, with the new footage appearing magnificent, while the older archival material is about as good as could be expected.

    The audio is functional. You can't ask for much more.

    The extras are comprehensive.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Wednesday, November 05, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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How is it from a New Zealand perspective - cztery REPLY POSTED