Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
28 January 2015
This story might even read like a corny sports joke - but I saw it in a pile of my notes not so long ago - its a boxing story from a long time back - and is worth retelling here I think.
You might recall a very tough American boxing heavyweight called Chuck Wepner from back in the 1970s. He was a brawling, big hitting white guy who came from the wrong side of the tracks (After him it was said the 'Rocky' character was written by Sylvester Stallone)
Wepner won the right for a world Heavyweight title fight against the great Muhammad Ali and after a month's excellent training he became very confident he could beat Ali.
It got to the point where the day before the fight (in Cleveland, Ohio in 1975) Wepner went to the city's best lingerie store and bought his wife a beautiful blue negligee. He took it back to his wife and gave it to her with the words 'When I get back to the hotel after the fight you'll need this. That's because you'll want to look good as you'll be sleeping with the heavyweight boxing champion of the world!'
In the fight the next night Wepner did put up a great showing. He even knocked Ali down in the ninth round (The story goes he went back to his manager at the end of the round and said, 'Al, start the car. We're going to the bank, we're gonna be millionaires after this!')
But Ali regained his composure and over the next few rounds he beat the courageous challenger to the point where the referee stopped the contest with 19 seconds left to go in the 15th round. Wepner by then looked a mess; his face was badly puffed and cut and he had a broken, bleeding nose.
When he got back to the hotel it was his wife who had the last word. There she was wearing in the blue negligee and looking an absolute picture.
It was she and not brave Chuck who then uttered the classic post-fight line, the one which has gone into boxing legend; 'Chuck baby,' she said, in her New York accent, 'What happens now? How does it work? Do I go to his room or does he come to mine?
True story! I've seen Wepner tell it on TV.
Richard Hugh McCaw - to be known universally as Richie - came into the world.
This match idea, perhaps for annual playing in the three non-World Cup years, between teams from the Northern and Southern Hemisphere countries, was mooted first in 1999. The fixture, though originally thought to be a good one, had a checkered history in attaining an identity and a date on which to be played. The planned first game, heavily endorsed by the IRB, was originally set down for November 2002 at Cardiff though the venue was later changed to Twickenham.
The game was finally postponed in 2002 without having been played. Though the major nations of the world officially endorsed the principle of the game much informal quibbling emerged about its merit and placement.
The idea resurfaced in 2004 as a fundraiser to assist the United Nations World Food programme to support its work aiding victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
Representative sides of the Northern and Southern hemispheres played at Twickenham in London in May 2005. The final score was Northern Hemisphere 19 – 54 Southern Hemisphere.
[A privately organised game between Northern and Southern Hemisphere teams had earlier been played in Hong Kong in March 1991. The Northern Hemisphere team, captained by Gary Whetton of New Zealand beat the Southern Hemisphere, led by Gavin Hastings of Scotland by 39-4]
Why did the Wallaby rugby team only practice in the afternoons at the 1987 Rugby World Cup?