The Rise & Rise of Australian Rugby-The Grand Slam (2003)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Schoolboys in the Mist
Featurette-1977/78 Schoolboys Exhibition
Featurette-Wales On Tour in Australia
Featurette-The Topo Rodriguez Story
Featurette-Gordon Bray's 1984 Tour preview
Featurette-Gordon Bray's Scotland Test preview
Featurette-Gordon Bray interviews Alan Jones
Featurette-The Wind and Murrayfield
Featurette-Gordon Bray's Celebration Story
Featurette-1984 Grand Slam Winners Interviews
Featurette-BBC 1981 Tour Preview
|Year Of Production||2003|
|Running Time||105:15 (Case: 145)|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Iain Knight|
ABC TV Sport
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||No|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
I recently had a look at the other recent rugby union release from ABC video - The Rise & Rise of Australian Rugby-The Bledisloe Cup. That documentary focused on the great rivalry between Australia and New Zealand. This time around we take a look at the rivalry between the Wallabies and the teams from the four 'home' nations of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, with special attention paid to the 1984 Wallaby tour when the boys in gold captured the magical grand slam.
With the 2003 World Cup nearing its conclusion and the Wallabies searching for that third world title, it is timely to take a look at a documentary that charts the moment that Australia effectively became a major player on the world scene. In 1984 the Wallabies set off for Britain searching to achieve what no touring team had ever done - win all four games against the four nations of England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland - The Grand Slam. Coached by the ever controversial and outspoken Alan Jones, the team comprised of several old hands in addition to some up-and-coming legends in the making. Names such as Mark Ella, Andrew Slack, Nick Farr-Jones, and David Campese featured in this team which went on to create history and win all four tests against quite formidable opposition.
Narrated by former Wallaby Peter FitzSimons, this documentary features interviews with many former players from both the Wallabies and the other test nations. Plenty of highlight footage is included from all the games, including the previous tour of 1981 when the Wallabies only won one test. That latter footage is considerably more detailed than the small amount that was contained in this documentary when it aired on ABC television a couple of months ago.
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 mid 1980s and some pristine quality new interview footage, the quality is obviously going to differ greatly. The new interview material is quite excellent and is 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 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 several 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.
A fairly basic audio selection graces this disc. We get an English 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 some really absorbing music used to introduce each of the games against the four major nations. In addition there are several uses of a choir to sing one of the traditional songs or anthems for those countries (Oh Danny Boy, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Waltzing Matilda, etc). Overall, the use of music is quite engaging.
There is no surround or subwoofer use at all.
|Surround Channel Use|
A brief 1:49 snippet of highlights from a 1977 Australian schoolboys match at Twickenham where the team played in a pea-souper fog. They can barely see 20 metres in front of them and the crowd gathered to watch can basically see nothing.
Running for 1:28, this is a couple of highlights from the reunion exhibition match for the 1977 Australian Schoolboys team played at the Sydney showground.
An interview with the Welsh coach and some training highlights on the eve of their clash with the Wallabies. Runs for 1:16.
Enrique 'Topo' Rodriquez emigrated from Argentina and gained selection in the Wallabies squad. In this 1:45 featurette he outlines his unusual training method designed to strengthen his neck.
Mr Rugby - Gordon Bray working for the ABC at the time - presents a brief 1:42 preview of the coming 1984 tour to Britain.
Running for 1:47, Gordon Bray previews the coming test against Scotland. Training footage of the Wallabies is included.
On the eve of the test with Scotland, Gordon Bray interviews Wallabies coach Alan Jones and gains his thoughts on the coming match. Runs for 2:06.
An amusing anecdote, told by coach Alan Jones and filmed this year, about the wind at the home of Scottish rugby, Murrayfield, and how he snuck into the ground before the game to work out the ground's secret weapon. Runs for 2:05.
Much like a news story, this is a 1:45 featurette presented by Gordon Bray after the Wallabies had clinched the Grand Slam of wins.
This is the meatiest extra, running for 16:57. It features interviews with many of the Wallabies squad after the fourth victory.
Runs for 6:23. This is a BBC production previewing the coming test series. Contains interviews with the Wallaby coach and several players. It's good to see a different angle on these things occasionally.
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 defining moment in the history of rugby union in Australia. Fans will appreciate its completeness and attention to detail. Non-fans will certainly be able to gain a better appreciation of the deeds of the Wallabies in 1984 and the importance of the "game they play in heaven".
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.
|DVD||Loewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10|