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Thread: Voice of rugby Gordon Bray reaches 40 years of calling Tests

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    Voice of rugby Gordon Bray reaches 40 years of calling Tests

    Voice of rugby Gordon Bray reaches 40 years of calling Tests but wants many more

    Tom Decent
    Published: June 11, 2016 - 9:32AM

    There is a good reason why Gordon Bray, the "Voice of Rugby", does not drink rum and coke before a Test anymore.

    "It was John Eales' first Test at Ballymore in 1991," recalls Bray, who has spent a week escaping Sydney's poor weather in Fiji before another stint in the commentary box with Channel Ten alongside Matthew Burke and Nathan Sharpe. "We had a little ritual among the commentators whereby Chris Handy, Gary Pearse and myself would have a rum and coke before the game. On this day we'd forgotten to order the rum and coke, so a whole jug arrived 10 minutes into the game in our commentary box.

    "Buddha just drank straight out of the jug and so did Gary, but I said no. The steward then tripped over my headphone cord and tipped the whole jug down the back of my shirt while I was commentating Jason Little scoring a try. The commentators fell over backwards they were no help to me."

    As the story goes, Bray was not allowed to board his flight later that evening due to the overwhelming stench of booze. It has been 40 years since Bray called his first Test Australia versus France in Bordeaux but remarkably it took him three years to pay off his debts from that tour.

    A cadet at the ABC in 1969 who sank schooners with broadcast doyens Alan McGilvray and Norman May in his lunch breaks, Bray, after four years of calling Australian rules football in Tasmania, put forward a proposal to call rugby matches in Bordeaux and Paris on the condition he would fund the trip himself.

    "Sure" was the ABC's response, so Bray joined the Wallabies on tour as if he were a player; training, socialising and living his boyhood dream on two fronts.

    The game was famously remembered for Gary Pearse's on-air "that's absolute bullshit" comment when Australian winger Laurie Monaghan was denied a try for a forward pass by Scottish ref Alan Hosie, who was 25 metres behind the play.

    "We knew the call was getting through to Australia because I had a call from the head of sport on Monday," says Bray. "I said that we told the spectator to stay right away from our commentary team. I got Gary off the hook."

    Bray, 66, estimates he has covered the best part of 425 Tests, his voice becoming synonymous with Wallabies fixtures for four decades. There have, however, been a few tricky moments along the way.

    Like in 1981, during the ABC's first live call back to Australia for a Wallabies-Ireland match, when a plug was put in the wrong hole, meaning Irish commentary was accidently used in the first half.

    Or when Bray had to curb his personal devastation at seeing the All Blacks race out to a 21-0 lead in six minutes in front of 109,874 fans at the Olympic Stadium in 2000.

    There was also a Hong Kong Sevens match in 1983 between Chinese Taipei and Bahrain that Bray remembers well.

    "BBC commentator Ian Robertson said: 'I'll call the first half, and you call the second'. The players ran out and Chinese Taipei came out with no numbers and they all had crew cuts. Then Bahrain came out with Arabic numbers on their back. At this point Ian slipped a note saying he was going to the gents and I didn't see him the rest of the game."

    For the record, a BBC producer told Bray it was "a great call", showing how unflappable the man with his craft down to a fine art really is.

    Does he have a most memorable moment? "The 1991 World Cup quarter-final Australia versus Ireland when Michael Lynagh manufactured a try in the dying stages."

    The most dramatic? "John Eales' kick at Wellington in 2000 or Jonah Lomu's injury-time try against Australia in 2000."

    The most amazing? "South Africa going down to Japan at last year's World Cup."

    Few people have watched more rugby than Bray and he has a closer relationship to the men in charge of Australia and England this series than most.

    "I liken them to rugby's Two Ronnies," says Bray. "You've got the diminutive Eddie Jones with all the wise cracks and you've got the straight man, the anti-establishment man in Michael Cheika. These two were principal sledgers when they played for Randwick, I could hear them first-hand from the sideline. I used to go down to Randwick training and have a sausage with them after training. It's great theatre."

    Test rugby isn't Test rugby without Bray, and he says even after 40 years in the game he wants to continue calling for many more. "To have an occupation like mine is akin to riding a magic carpet," says Bray. "I've been very fortunate. The fire is certainly burning."

    For the record, Bray is tipping Australia to beat England 2-1 and he's even hinted at pouring himself a celebratory drink to celebrate 40 grand years behind the microphone. "These days we tend to be squeaky clean but that's not to say the rum and cokes may not be resurrected."


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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    The Bronze Star of Faith TWF Contributor!
    I wonder if having the 10 commentary and Fox pics will work?

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    "The main difference between playing League and Union is that now I get my hangovers on Monday instead of Sunday - Tom David

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    Love Gordon Bray

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  4. #4
    Player vulcan's Avatar
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    as soon as the ten telecast started i put on ten how great to hear the voice of rugby pity budah handy isnt there but good to see sharpie getting a start Fox should have a good look at the muppets doing their broadcast

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    Veteran beige's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vulcan View Post
    as soon as the ten telecast started i put on ten how great to hear the voice of rugby pity budah handy isnt there but good to see sharpie getting a start Fox should have a good look at the muppets doing their broadcast
    Buddha Handy = most overrated rugby commentator in history.

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