In an era when it wasn’t uncommon for athletes to alternate between sporting codes at the highest level, the late W B K (Bevin) Hough was in a class of his own.
Auckland-born Hough, who died in Tauranga at the age of 90 on November 25, owns a place among New Zealand’s most exceptional double internationals after combining careers in both rugby league and athletics.
Indeed, in 1950, he won silver in the long jump at the British Empire Games in Auckland in February and, just a few months later, became a New Zealand rugby league international making his debut on the wing for the Kiwis against Great Britain in Christchurch.
In his summer sporting pursuit, Hough specialised in both long jump and triple jump, winning the national long jump title three years on end in 1949, 1950 and 1951 and claiming the national triple jump crown in 1949.
Back in those days, sporting seasons didn’t overlap to the extent they have in modern times so enabling the likes of Hough to compete in his winter sporting passion of rugby league.
He played for Richmond – a prolific producer of Kiwi internationals – and Papakura while also featuring regularly for the Auckland provincial side.
After playing both Tests in the Kiwis’ 2-0 series triumph against Great Britain in 1950, he lined up in the brutal one-off 16-15 win over France at Carlaw Park in 1951 and was a Test team regular on New Zealand’s 1951-52 tour to Britain and France.
After touring Australia with the series-winning Kiwis in 1952, Hough (Kiwi No 324) played in the 25-5 first Test win over the Kangaroos the following year. He finished his Kiwi career with three tries in his nine Tests.