An article in the match programme for Newport v New Zealand in 1989 recalls that 5th All Blacks, captained by prop forward Wilson Whineray from Auckland, were renowned for their tough, fast forwards. Often it was said they were over-vigorous, but the captain was never involved and he was a player who was respected on every ground in the U.K.
Among the great forwards were Colin "Pinetree" Meads, Kel Tremain, Ken Gray, Brian Lochore and Waka Nathan. This rugged pack of ruthless intent, allied to the deadly accuracy of the boot of Don Clarke, made the All Blacks an irresistible combination.
This quite outstanding touring team were to succeed in beating Wales at Cardiff, where three previous teams had failed; winning against Ireland in Dublin, England at Twickenham, and France in Paris and it was to return home with a record:-
Played 36, Won 34, Drawn 1, Lost 1, Points for 613, Points against 159.
The drawn game (neither side scored) was against Scotland at Murrayfield, but it was at Rodney Parade that the All Blacks met their Waterloo!
This was the third match of the tour and the first in Wales. Oxford University had been beaten by 19pts to 3pts and Southern Counties (at Hove) by 32pts to nil. Several of the Newport players and the coaching staff had seen the All Blacks in action and a game plan was decided upon. As the captain, Brian Price, has recalled, "Our plan to beat the 1963-64 All Blacks might be classed as completely negative and defensive by modern standards. The priorities were to avoid giving away penalties; to kill the ball at maul and ruck and in the conditions to eliminate fancy running behind the scrum. The half-backs, Bob Prosser and David Watkins, who were superb opportunists, were to decide the attacking moves and keep Clarke on the run."
A late change in the pack meant that a raw youngster from Blaenafon, 20 year-old Keith Poole, who had played only one first team game, packed down in the back row instead of the injured Brian Cresswell. Keith was to establish a club record by making three appearances against major touring teams - and never on the losing side. He was in the Newport team which drew with the 1966 Australians and in the 1969 team which beat South Africa. From 1963 to 1978 he wore the Newport jersey on 486 occasions. This would be the one to remember!
Newport had not made a very impressive start to the season, having already drawn two and lost four of their games, and although a crowd of some 29,000 was there to cheer the home side, the All Blacks were certainly favourites to win. They strengthened their team making nine changes to that that defeated Southern Counties. The scene was set........