Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
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MY TAKE ON SOME OF THE RUGBY NEWS STORIES WHICH COME INTO MY WORLD.
8 July 2015
This is a piece I wrote for a history of the 1991 Rugby World Cup. I tried to capture with dignity (and fairness!?) one of rugby's most memorable days. Though perhaps Welsh fans might not agree! Read more »
25 June 2015
So what about that 1995 Rugby World Cup - and especially the final? Well, the whole thing was a great event with the All Blacks playing by far the best rugby of any team at the tournament. That of course was never better shown then in the way they demolished England by 45-29 in the semi-final at Cape Town. Read more »
10 June 2015
My story on the late Jerry Collins having to front for a TV interview straight after an All Blacks World Cup defeat in 2003 has been picked up and run on the New Zealand Herald. As a result of that the All Blacks media manager from that New Zealand team has sent his version of events. I thank Matt McIlraith and publish his comments. Read more »
9 June 2015
My rugby writing friend Frankie Deges of Buenos Aires has this week wondered why I did not include in my website 'tribute' to the life Jerry Collins any mention of the time I was furious with the way Collins was treated by the management of an All Black team which he had just given his guts on the field for... so I publish that story right here. Read more »
8 June 2015
Many warm words have been written in recent days about the life of Jerry Collins. However some of the tributes have been of the once-over-lightly variety. This one is written by a Kiwi who prefers to be called 'Inky.' - nothing more nothing lees. I know who Inky is by name and I'll vouch for him as a rugby authority. I liked his tribute so much, with all its excellent new information about Jerry, that I thought i'd run again it here. I know I've kinda pinched it, but thanks Inky old mate! Read more »
4 June 2015
There we were the other day; two blokes sitting at home on a rainy afternoon in Wellington. We had nothing to do except pass the time of day away. The wives were out shopping and like the diligent husbands we are we were waiting at home for them. It was too early for a beer, there was tea in the pot and a new cake on the plate. But when we started talking about the composition of the 2015 All Blacks World Cup team the cake got ignored and the tea went cold. Read more »
Graham Mourie's touring team was beaten 12-0 by Munster in Limerick; the first win by any Irish team over the All Blacks. And poems, songs, books, films and reunions followed over the years.
Transvaal and South Africa
29 internationals for South Africa 1993-96
The Springbok flanker who had a relatively short time at the top in test rugby, but who played a huge role in the game in a number of ways. Francois Pienaar is remembered best for receiving the 1995 Rugby World Cup from his President, Nelson Mandela, after winning the dramatic final for South Africa on Ellis Park in 1995. In another completely different way, by his actions, Pienaar also played a significant role in the prevention of rugby going to the rebel professional World Rugby Corporation in the same year.
Pienaar first came into the Springbok team in 1993 against France. He was made captain from the very start of his tests, a rare feat (only Basil Kenyon and Des van Jaarsveld had also done that for South Africa). Still, Pienaar did have a paltry total of experience, just 16 tests, when two years later, he was charged with the task of leading the Springboks into their first World Cup. Added to that was the pressure on him of not failing in a World Cup being played effectively in his new country. The whole of South Africa’s new ‘Rainbow Nation’ looked to Francois Pienaar and the coach Kitch Christie to bring home the gold.
And they certainly did. In an exultant moment for the South Africa nation, who were finding a new way forward, the win over New Zealand, by 15-12 in extra time, was massive lift for the new nation’s confidence. Given the years when South Africa had been scorned for its apartheid policies, what an image was created for the entire world to see when a young white man accepted the trophy from his black leader.
In that moment Francois Pienaar was guaranteed a lifetime’s recognition. He had played well in the tournament, he led his team superbly, had conveyed a confidence all the way through, to the whole country. Seconds after the final whistle he led his team to dipin prayers of gratitude, right in the centre-field at Ellis Park. In other words for the deeply religious country he did everything right.
Yet only months later he was embroiled in the greatest threat the amateur game of rugby had ever faced. The World Rugby Corporation had been formed to seek ways to change the structure of the world rugby scene and change it from its old amateur ways. The world’s top players were targeted with offers of money, contracted sums so large apparently, that they could not be refused. The WRC went hard at securing the South African players for a new world professional circuit. The WRC took the view that because they had won the World Cup South Africa must be the target to lead the new direction.
So the pressure went on to Francois Pienaar. He was offered huge sums to lead all of the other World Cup winners to the new monetary version of rugby. To be fair, leading All Blacks, Wallabies and British and Irish players were also being besieged by WRC and sign up. Pienaar though was the first to crack. He elected to stay with the counter-offer from Louis Luyt of the South African Rugby Union and with other collapses of confidence the strong bid by WRC failed. Had Pienaar gone with the new idea world rugby would have been vastly different. As it transpired the International Rugby Board sensing the groundswell and desires of modern attitudes within months, themselves, had changed the game from being all-amateur to being totally professional.
Francois Pienaar’s career at the top lasted one more year. He led the Springboks on the European tour in the first Springbok tour of the new era and in 1996 he took part in the first Tri Nations series with New Zealand and Australia. He international career ended when, still as skipper, he was carried off at Cape Town in the second test against the All Blacks.
He left the country soon after to become a player/coach at the prestigious Saracens Club in London.
Why was the France v Ireland match of 1913 played in the morning in Cork?