For a more (true) life story, BUY HIS BLOODY BOOK!!! Its a rip-snorter.
Todd was born on the 29th of September 1971. A day and month which coincidently coincides with King Richard II becoming the first English monarch to abdicate his throne. This of course has no relevence whatsoever.
The pride and joy of Mr & Mrs Blackadder, Toddy being born caused a tremendous amount of pain for his Mother. You see Toddy was born with size 16 feet! A fact not many people know. Causing pain for others became a trademark for the man.
Having such large feet meant many tearful moments for Toddy at Rangiora kindergarten and primary school. The daily teasing about his abnormally large feet become a source of great inspiration for Toddy as he grew older. Those nasty comments like "Here comes that kid with the really large feet...haha...large feet large feet!" just spured him on. Toddy recently said that those comments where the inspiration he needed to become the greatest rugby player the world has ever seen.
Despite this traumatic childhood, the young Toddy showed enormous potential as a rugby player. He started his career for the Woodend club in North Canterbury. Moving onto Rangiora High School he met the first hurdle in his rugby career. Up until then he could play rugby in bare feet, but now he had to buy rugby boots. The Blackadder's hunted around for boots that size, but to no avail.
Toddy never made the 1st 15 at Rangiora High School, instead concentrating on water skiing, a sport he could do without the need to buy "special" footwear. A few years ago I was talking to a former teammate of Toddy's at the Woodend club. The immortal Vaughn Carpenter!
The industrious openside flanker for the Woodend under 15's who had kept Toddy out of that team due to his, and I quote, "...Intimidating size and strength...". Of course everybody knows the tragic tale of the incident that caused Carpenter to give up the game. Once he hit the grand old age of 16, flabbybeerguteritis laid him low for the following 14 seasons. However despite continous comments (by Carpenter) about the prodigious playing talent Carpenter had, he did think Toddy was an "...OK..." sort of player. Rare praise indeed!
With Carpenter now out of the way, this opened the door for Toddy. He moved quickly up the ranks at Woodend, making the senior side at the age of 17. Until fortune came-a-knockin on his door! Toddy, having left Rangiora High School, felt like he needed a change. Having dabbled in many fringe religious cults as a youngster, he decided to join a band of Harry Krishna's whom where starting a pilgrimage to the alternative-lifestyle capital of New Zealand...Nelson!!!
Having shaved his head and bought the compulsory large nappy, he jumped in the brightly coloured Volkswagan van and headed for the sun-dreanched hippy capital. Toddy, or as is was now called, Guruswammy Vindaloo, started a new chapter in his rugby career by joining the Collingwood club in Nelson. He was an instant success!!! Being a good-old country club, he would spend the week harvesting the "special" crops that the religious cult grew. His form was such he soon made the Nelson Bays representative side. "Guruswammy Vindaloo" became a household name in the region.
However all good things come to an end. The cult's compound having been raided by the "...pigs...", Guruswammy made a hasty retreat back home, where for his own safety he reverted back to his old name!
Having now joined the Rangiora club, Toddy's return to the holyland was duly rewarded with his Canterbury blazer. The early nineties where the glory days for Canterbury rugby!!! Turning up at Lancaster Park struggling to find a position on the embankment with the other 47 people there. Cheering Canterbury on as Auckland 'C' racked up a 30 point win. Great memories! *cough*
Toddy's commitment to the cause however grew lavish praise from the hardman of the Canterbury pack. Andy 'Wurzel' Earle, while commenting on the brilliance of his teammates, said they where all a bunch of "...gutless pricks...apart from Todd...". A touching moment in Toddy's life.
The year was 1994 when Canterbury rugby hit the heights that the fervent Canterbury public expect. Mike Brewer and that soft-hearted prop Richard Loe lead the mighty Cantabrians to Rugby Park in Hamilton and a glorious Ranfurly Shield win. Memories of Mehrt's bowl haircut remain etched in memory! It was about this time that the leadership qualities of Toddy really came to the fore.
Canterbury's resurgence as a rugby power didn't reach its peak until 1997 however. Toddy, now firmly entrenched as Canterbury's captain, guides Canterbury too its first NPC win since 1983. Beating Auckland twice in the process, and making Zinzan Brooke(n) have a temper tantrum in the process. It was this year that Toddy really started to become an immortal! It was also the first time one of Toddy's greatest fans started to really support him. This is of course John Hart.
After leading the Crusaders to a glorious S12 win against the Blues at Eden Park in 1998 (& making Zinny cry again), the calls came out from around the country! "TODDY FOR THE ALL BLACKS!!!" was the call.
Hart loved the way Toddy played! John, being from down-to-earth stock himself having risen through the ranks of Fletcher Challenge and having to live the "hard life on the streets" that only the suburb of Remuera can bring, realised that Toddy had the game smarts the AB's desperately needed.
Having picked Toddy for his test debut against the fearsome English, he felt inclined to bring Toddy off 10 minutes into the 2nd half as Toddy was having a "blinder". His later dropping of Toddy from the AB squad to allow that great up-and-coming youngster Micheal Jones more gametime was an inspired move from the super-coach, as was witnessed by the AB's record-breaking run in the 1998 Tri-Nations.
Remarkably the young, talented, Micheal Jones strangely aged 10 years in the off-season, causing him to be dropped from the AB's.
The year 1999 bought more success for Toddy and the Crusaders, as yet another S12 win was entered into the record books. John Hart, having decided that Toddy "needed a rest" didn't pick him for the wonderfully successful 1999 World Cup campaign. Having stormed their way through the prelims, Laurie Main's nemesis "Suzie" reared her pretty wee head again! This time offering the French players certain "favours" for performing well, the French "rose" to the occasion and gave the AB's a hiding! Thus ending the Hart years. Toddy was devastated seeing his great friend dumped like a useless bag of shit.
The All Black captaincy was now up for grabs. Taine Randall, having taken over from Sean Fitzpatrick, had the misfortune to have a large "L" appear on his forehead. Whenever he spoke after another vintage AB performance in 1998, this big "L" would suddenly appear. Nobody quite knew what was causing this strange phenonomem until scientists figured out that this same "L" appeared on other NZ sporting entities, like the brilliant Auckland Warriors, or the hugely successful NZ olympic teams of 1996 & 2000. Change was needed.
Certain rugby scribes looked back on the recent history of All Black rugby, and strangely decided something was missing...the ability to actually look like a team!
For season 2000 Toddy was announced as the AB captain after leading the Crusaders to yet another S12 win and having to lead yet another 100,000 parade down Colombo St in Christchurch. New coach and sensitive-new-age-guy Wayne Smith felt that Toddy was the ideal man to return core AB values to the team. The relationship between Smith and Blackadder goes back many years to a certain brightly coloured Volkswagon! The former cult leader Smith proved to be an inspired choice for the AB's.
Former AB's where overjoyed to see Toddy now at the helm. One former AB, Andy Haden, was to become the founder of the "Todd Blackadder fan club". An amazing feat as his other jobs as international manager for the stars and spokesperson for the Fat Bastards Who Know F**k All About Anything Foundation mean his time was sparse indeed.
Unhappily for Toddy, despite his inspirational leadership, and despite returning some respect to AB rugby, season 2000 ended badly with a heart breaking loss to the Wallabies in Wellington. A sluggish start to the 2001 S12 season meant Smith couldn't pick him as a first choice lock. Thus his spell as AB captain ended. For most, having this happen to them as well as having ridiculously large feet, could potentially break a man.
But not our Toddy!!!
In the meantime, Canterbury (this time lead by Daryl Gibson) had again taken the Ranfurly Shield from Waikato.
After Smith quit the ABs, after yet another heart-breaking loss to the Wallabies, to return to his "crop" growing in Nelson, Toddy and the Canterbury boys came out all guns blazing in the 2001 NPC!
Sweeping all before them they became the first team to retain the Ranfurly Shield and win the NPC since the semi-final format was introduced in 1992. An emotional Jade Stadium bid farewell to their greatest son in the final.
Rumour has it that new AB coach John Mitchell begged and pleaded with the NZRFU to buy out Toddy's contract with Scottish club the Reivers, so he could be re-instated as AB captain. Toddy always was a man to stick by his decisions though, and so he graciously declined Mitchell's offer.
A shame in some ways, but in others very fitting. I know one thing, it might be worth flying over to Edinburgh to see the Reivers play with both Toddy and Chainsaw Laney in the same team.
Toddy, all of Canterbury wishes you nothing but the best. You are a legend!