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.
A hotel ruckus after NZ had beaten Wales 19-16 saw Keith Murdoch banished from the tour. He stopped in Oz and hasn't yet made it home yet!
Lansdowne and Ireland
51 internationals for Ireland 1974–84
1 international for the British Isles 1977
A dedicated player who became only the third forward from Ireland to reach 50 international appearances. Keane was never a great lineout leaper or scrummager or runner in the open. Rather he played the game in the dark depths of rucks and mauls, where he was as good a grafter as the game has seen. For heart and pride, and the desire to do his utmost for Ireland, he could not be bettered.
Maurice Ignatius Keane first played for Ireland in 1974 in a 6–9 loss to France, but wins in two other matches that season gave Ireland the Five Nations title. In Keane’s fourth international season for Ireland, he made the British Isles team to tour New Zealand, after one of the team’s originals, Geoff Wheel, had to withdraw on medical advice.
Keane was in the Irish team that won the Five Nations championship in 1982 and in the one that shared the title with France in 1983. The other years of his international career were lean: in 52 internationals Keane was only in the winning team 17 times.
Keane had a delightful personality and a wicked sense of humour and many stories, true, exaggerated or otherwise, are still told about him.
In the 1978 New Zealand v Ireland match at Dublin, the Irish were being well beaten in the lineouts, where Keane was marking the All Black giant Andy Haden. The only chance Ireland had to win lineout ball was with their complicated lineout calls, which none of the New Zealanders could decipher. The All Blacks were helped on one occasion when the lineout call went out from the Irish halfback and they heard Keane cry, ‘Oh God no, not to me again’!
Moss Keane was the first Gaelic footballer to play rugby union for Ireland after eligibility rules were changed. He remained an enormously popular figure in Ireland after his retirement from playing.
Who was the first All Black captain to be red or yellow carded in a test match?