The Rise & Rise of Australian Rugby-The Bledisloe Cup: Deluxe Edition (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 637:02 (Case: 685)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (4)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Iain Knight
ABC TV Sport
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Peter FitzSimons
Case Gatefold
RPI $89.95 Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown 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 Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    I recently took a look at the standard version of this documentary with the rather lengthy title - The Rise & Rise of Australian Rugby - The Bledisloe Cup. This version adds even more to that title, being labelled as a Deluxe Edition. It's easy to see why. It is a four-disc set containing the same documentary and extras as on the single disc version, plus six complete rugby games in full. Yes, that's right, you heard correct. On the other three discs in this attractive gatefold style case are six classic Bledisloe Cup rugby union games between Australia and New Zealand in full.

    For completeness I will outline the details of the actual documentary first and then discuss each of the six games at the end of the plot synopsis. It's fairly safe for you to assume the video and audio sections will be almost exactly the same as the single disc version and the extras are identical so if you've already checked out that review you may wish to just read the plot synopsis.

    The documentary (108:53)

    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 not being the number one football code in Australia it is certainly still and 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 challenger, 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.

    Below is a quick summary of the six tests that are included on discs two-four. All are presented in full, from the opening whistle to the final siren. All the test matches presented have chapter stops every 10 minutes (exactly) so flicking through to your favourite bits should prove quite easy. All are presented in their original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and come with Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks.

Game 1 - Australia v New Zealand - 3rd Test, 9 September 1978, Eden Park Auckland (85:43)

    This was Chris 'Buddha' Handy's first game, this is the famous victory by the Wallabies over the All-Blacks when Greg Cornelson ran through a record four individual tries. The Wallabies won the game 30-16, with the score being the best ever by the Wallabies in any test and the biggest score ever against the All Blacks by any country. A landmark game by any measure.

Game 2 - Australia v New Zealand - 3rd Test, 12 July 1980, Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney (91:50)

    The third and deciding game of the 1980 three-test series. A magnificent crowd of nearly 50,000 jammed into the SCG to see this decider. Australia had won the first test 13-9, and New Zealand the second 12-9, so the stage was set for a thriller. This was just Mark Ella's 3rd test cap. The 26-10 win by Australia was the biggest winning margin by the Wallabies ever.

Game 3 - Australia v New Zealand  - 2nd Test, 28 August 1982, Athletic Park, Wellington (83:25)

    Bob Dwyer, the man who would eventually lead the Wallabies to the famous World Cup win in 1991 was now in charge of the team for this match in Windy Wellington. A young David Campese was a star in the making and when he goose-stepped around All Black legend Stu Wilson and left the Kiwi in his wake, this was a sign of things to come. The Wallabies went on to win this game 19-16.

Game 4 - Australia v New Zealand - 3rd Test, 18 August 1984, Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney (84:05)

    The ever-controversial Alan Jones is now the coach of the team for this series decider at the SCG. It becomes the highest scoring game between the two nations to that date with the score going in New Zealand's favour 25-24. The All Blacks superior goal kicking got them over the line.

Game 5 - Australia v New Zealand - 3rd Test, 6 September 1986, Eden Park, Auckland (90:30)

    Mark Ella has now retired and is commentating with the ever-present Gordon Bray. This game is yet another series decider and the hero for the Wallabies is certainly the super-boot Michael Lynagh. The renowned fly-half finishes with 14 points in a team total of 22 as the Wallabies win by 13 points and claim the Bledisloe Cup for only the fifth time in their history.

Game 6 - Australia v New Zealand - 2nd Test, 16 July 1988, Ballymore, Brisbane (92:36)

    With the Wallabies up 16-6 at half time, and no All Black side ever having won from a 10-point half time deficit, the boys in gold were favoured to win. But the All Blacks powered home in one of the most desperate finishes in rugby history to tie the game. A missed conversion by Grant Fox sealed a tied result.

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. Mostly 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 obviously been cropped top and bottom to make it fit. Nothing is lost as a result of this cropping. Overall there are no traces of edge enhancement, and grain is absent from the new material, but quite visible in the older footage. 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.

    There are no MPEG artefacts in the documentary, though occasionally the game footage on discs two-four often pixelates slightly due to the excessive grain in the picture. Film to video artefacts are also absent. The new interview footage is free from artefacts, but the older archival footage contains many analogue tape based problems.

    There is a set of subtitles available for the documentary only, 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.

    These are all dual layered discs, but I couldn't spot any layer changes. It is quite likely that the game discs have one game on each layer.

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


    A fairly basic audio selection graces all the discs. 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


    These extras are all contained on disc one and are identical to those contained on the single disc version.

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 play was used. 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, 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 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 four-disc deluxe edition is just that - deluxe. An amazingly comprehensive look at a small slice of the Bledisloe Cup history between Australia and New Zealand, including a staggering six rugby tests presented in full. In the documentary, Peter Fitzsimons is an excellent narrator with an obvious passion for the game he played at the top level. Fans of the sport will wallow in the collective minutes of footage presented here.

    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.

    Now all we need is for someone to package a series of cricket discs like this! Imagine that all five days of an Ashes test in a multi-disc set...

Ratings (out of 5)


© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Tuesday, November 11, 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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