Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
1 June 2014
This is an example of never giving up in sports;
In 1980 after a full decade of trying - and 16 straight defeats of him by the great Jimmy Connors - Vitas Gerulaitis finally beat Connors, who was his friend and rival. The match was at Madison Square Garden, New York, and was a 5-set thriller.
The triumphant Vitas sauntered into his aftermatch press conference and began by wagging his finger at the gathered media. "Now you listen you people," he said urgently,"let that be a lesson to you all. Nobody - but nobody - beats Vitas Gerulaitis 17 times in a row!"
Stern criticism of the 'elite' International Rugby Board was offered by USA Rugby Chairman Bob Watkins at the Asian Pacific Rugby Congress in Hong Kong, leading to the eventual expansion of the IRB from only eight countries to the over 130 nations today.
Western Province and South Africa
33 internationals for Sth Africa 1960–67
One of South Africa’s greatest players, John Gainsford played in what was then a record number of internationals for a centre in the Springbok colours.
A big, strong-running centre with positive instincts for attack, he made his first-class debut as a 19-year-old, before joining the Junior Springboks for their 1959 tour of Argentina. He came into the South African test team in 1960, when he appeared in the only test against the Scotland touring team and in all four games the same season against the All Blacks. Thereafter, until 1967, only injury kept him out of test teams.
In his seven seasons as a Springbok, Gainsford earned world-wide respect. After only five years he became the highest-capped South African player, beating the old mark of 28 tests, held by Johan Claassen, in the third test at Christchurch on the 1965 New Zealand tour. This was a feat which he celebrated by scoring two brilliant tries as the Springboks came back from 5–16 at half-time to score a notable victory.
At the time of his retirement, after the 1967 tour by France, Gainsford was also South Africa’s top test try-scorer, with eight tries. Both his appearances and try tally records were broken in subsequent years, but it took until 2001 before Japie Mulder passed his record for being South Africa’s highest-capped centre.
Who played in the 1987 Rugby World Cup Final wearing a hair-piece?