The Rise & Rise of Australian Rugby-The Grand Slam: 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-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
Audio Commentary-BBC Commentary, with Nigel Starmer-Smith, Bill McLaren
Audio Commentary-ABC Commentary, with Gordon Bray , Michael Hawker, et al
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 534:34 (Case: 570)
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 Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio Varies
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Varies 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

    This is the review for the Deluxe Edition of the recently reviewed single disc version of The Rise and Rise of Australian Rugby - The Grand Slam. Just as the Deluxe Edition of the Bledisloe Cup documentary included six classic rugby tests in full, the Grand Slam documentary comes as either a single disc edition or as a deluxe four-disc edition. This box-set contains the same documentary and extras as featured on the single disc version, but also contains five classic test matches in their entirety. This in itself represents fantastic value, but in this case it actually goes one step further and adds to each of these tests a choice of not one, but two audio commentary options. Yes that's right - you can watch five whole rugby tests in full and listen to either the Australian ABC commentary, or the British BBC commentary.

    I have treated the documentary and the additional games as the main part of the package, and since the extras are simply the same as those found on the single disc version (apart from the commentary tracks), I have simply copied that information directly from the other review - so you may wish to skip over those if you have already read the single disc review. The documentary and extras are on disc one while the five tests are included over discs two-four in this attractive gatefold multi-disc set.

    The documentary (105:15)

     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, with a goal 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 included several old hands, and 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.

    Narrated by former Wallaby Peter FitzSimons, this documentary features interviews with many former players both from 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.

    Below is a brief summary of the five tests that are included on discs two to four. All the tests 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 a choice of two Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks. This is a really neat feature since it allows you to listen to either the Australian television commentary with the ever-excitable Gordon Bray at the helm, or the somewhat stuffy but ultimately professional BBC television commentary. Hearing the other side talk about our Wallaby team is quite amusing at times.

Game 1 - England v Australia -3 November 1984 , Twickenham, London   (87:17)

    The opening test of the tour and the victory that really set the Wallabies on their way to the grand slam. The resulting 19-3 victory was set up by the brilliance of the boot of Michael Lynagh. Mark Ella scored the first of his four tries for the series.

Game 2 - Ireland v Australia - 10 November 1984, Lansdowne Road, Dublin   (86:46)

    The closest game of the series, the 16-9 win by the Wallabies was an arm-wrestle all the way, but with Mark Ella scoring another try and a young Nick Farr-Jones starting to really step up, the Wallabies were never headed after half-time.

Game 3 - Wales v Australia - 24 November 1984, Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff   (86:06)

    Probably the hardest game of all during the tour, the Welsh are always a tough combination at home in front of their legion of singing fans, and the Wallabies had only ever won once at the home of Welsh rugby, way back in 1966. The resultant 28-9 drubbing was not what most expected and with Mark Ella collecting his third try in as many games the Wallabies cruised home.

Game 4 -Scotland v Australia - 8 December 1984,  Murrayfield, Edinburgh  (82:15)

    This game, played in near dark conditions in Edinburgh, is the game that clinched the famous four victories for the Wallabies. A massive victory 37-12 with Mark Ella and Nick Farr-Jones again amongst the tries.

Game 5 - Barbarians v Australia - Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff   (86:55)

    With the grand slam in the bag, the Wallabies had to face up for the traditional game against the Barbarians, which is the team made up of the best players of all of Europe (sort of an all-star combination). Neither side took this game lightly and the resulting 37-30 score proves that. A highly entertaining game.

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

Transfer Quality


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

    The video for the five test matches on discs two to four is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    With the transfer containing a mix of archival and match footage from the early to mid 1980s and some pristine quality new interview footage, the quality is obviously going to vary greatly. The new interview material is quite excellent. Sharp, clear, and brilliantly vibrant in colour, with no traces of edge enhancement present. In the case of the documentary 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 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.

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 stereo soundtrack as the only option for disc one containing the documentary, while there is a choice of two audio tracks, both Dolby Digital 2.0 again for the rugby matches across discs two to four. These are both in English and are covered in more detail in the extras section.

    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.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Featurette-Schoolboys in the Mist

    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.

Featurette-1977/78 Schoolboys Exhibition

    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.

Featurette-Wales On Tour in Australia

    An interview with the Welsh coach and some training highlights on the eve of their clash with the Wallabies. Runs for 1:16.

Featurette-The Topo Rodriguez Story

    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.

Featurette-Gordon Bray's 1984 Tour preview

    Australia's 'Mr Rugby' Gordon Bray, working for the ABC at the time, presents a brief 1:42 preview of the coming 1984 tour to Britain.

Featurette-Gordon Bray's Scotland Test preview

    Running for 1:47 Gordon Bray previews the coming test against Scotland. Training footage of the Wallabies is included.

Featurette-Gordon Bray interviews Alan Jones

    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.

Featurette-The Wind and Murrayfield

    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 sneaked into the ground before the game to work out the ground's secret weapon. Runs for 2:05.

Featurette-Gordon Bray's Celebration Story

    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.

Featurette-1984 Grand Slam Winners Interviews

    This is the meatiest extra, running for 16:57. It features interviews with many of the Wallabies squad after the fourth victory.

Featurette-BBC 1981 Tour Preview

    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.

Audio Commentary

    This is a really neat feature. Discs two to four (which contain the full five test matches played by the Wallabies in full) come with a choice of two audio soundtracks. The first soundtrack is the original BBC commentators and so takes the perspective of the Australians as visitors. I found the BBC commentators to be highly professional and not as excitable as their Australian counterparts.

Audio Commentary

    Soundtrack choice number two is the Australian (ABC) commentary with Gordon Bray at the helm and a host of former players helping him out throughout the five test series. Bray is a little more excitable and tends to simply shout out the names of the players as the ball is passed quickly around the team. He even exclaims 'You Beauty!' at one stage so you know you are definitely listening to an Aussie commentary.

    There are a couple of problems with this soundtrack. On occasion it tends to drop out for a brief moment and there is the odd problem or two with pops and clicks. It is certainly the poorer of the two soundtracks in terms of general fidelity quality and overall clarity.

R4 vs R1

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

   This disc set is not available in Region 1.


    This is a comprehensive look at one of the defining moments 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.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Friday, November 14, 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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