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Too big for the Primary School reps, and in his day the tallest man to have played on Lancaster Park, Nugget Pringle won Wellington caps in his first season of senior rugby with the Oriental Club, and went on to win an All Black cap the following year, 1923.
In the training camp before the first test against New South Wales he proved a great entertainer and his Salome was a scream, but a cauliflower ear (one of many) led to his withdrawal from the match. He scored a try in the second test, which the All Blacks won handsomely, but, despite every endeavour for the next 4 years, failed to gain a second cap. En route he played for and against the All Blacks and against New Zealand Maoris, winning all three and scoring a try in two.
Fate’s fickle fingers nonetheless conspired, through injury, illness, selection policy and sheer misfortune, to cause him to miss further home internationals as well as tours to Australia and South Africa. Most importantly, although a hot favourite all season, he missed out by a whisker on a place with the 1924/25 Invincibles.
With the benefit of contemporary press cuttings in the family scrapbook, and from the archives, we follow here his playing career at club, representative and national level, while we also learn of his achievements in the worlds of athletics and cricket, and how he gained the unusual distinction of playing both rugby and cricket, as well as winning the shot put, on Athletic Park.
A genial giant who gave his all for the game he loved, but, in terms of his playing career and All Black appearances, was he the Unluckiest All Black?
Judge for yourself.
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