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5 June 2014
The Manu Samoa rugby team burst into the world scene in 1991 with a stunning entry into the second Rugby World Cup.
The team from the South Pacific marked its first ever Cup game by emphatically beating the host country Wales on the new Millennium Stadium in Cardiff; the ground which backs onto the historic original Cardiff Arms Park. Writers at the time called the result the 'greatest upset in rugby test history.' Many still do.
In the years after that most epic of sporting days the Samoa captain Peter Fatialofa allowed some exaggeration to enter into his re-telling of the story of how his team had won.
When Peter died tragically in 2013, his death plunged his home country and his adopted country of New Zealand into deep mourning. But Peter's high humour could not be doused.
His lifelong friend, the All Black Bryan ('B.G.') Williams told one story about Peter at one of several memorial services held in 'Fats' honour in Auckland.
Said Bryan to the mourners; 'When Manu Samoa beat Wales that day in 1991 Fats told me the Queen of England rang him up and said 'Hey Fats, I want you to ride with me in a horse-drawn open carriage to Buckingham Palace.
' So I accepted, ' said Fats, 'and climbed up with her. Down The Mall we went, trotting along happily in front of the huge crowds. But as we went along, just then one of the horses let out a huge fart. The Queen looked hugely embarrassed and turned to me and said, "Oh I am so dreadfully sorry.'
To which Peter said, "Oh that's all right, Your Majesty, if you hadn't mentioned it I'd have sworn it was one of the horses!'
They did it in style too; beating Canada 38-10 to win a Youth Olympic Gold medal in Nanjing China. The victory saw an Olympic rugby gold medal presented for the first time in 90 years!
Elected president of the French Rugby Federation in 1968, Albert Ferrasse of Agen built for himself the formidable reputation of being the most powerful administrator in French rugby.
Born in 1917, Ferrasse played at lock in the Agen team which won the national club championship of France in 1945. Later he made the reserves for the French XV. After his playing days were over, he took to refereeing with considerable success, refereeing the French club final of 1959.
Under his guidance France was admitted to the International Rugby Board in 1978. Ferrasse, very pro-British in his outlook, also fought sternly to allow South Africa to maintain its place in world rugby. Through France’s association with FIRA, he kept a weather eye on the emerging countries of European rugby.
Well known for taking a strong stance on rough play in rugby, ‘Tonton Albert’ (Uncle Albert) Ferrasse also introduced the rigid club transfer rules in France. Outsiders asked about the apparent ‘liberal’ attitude in France towards the amateur spirit of the game, but Ferrasse repeatedly claimed he investigated any complaints of the amateur spirit and could find few, if any, breaches. Talk is one thing, proof is another, he said, when questioned about reported professionalism in French club rugby. He was also once quoted as saying that ‘it is quite an achievement that rugby still resists the aggression of money’.
The authoritative reign of Ferrasse ended after 23 years in December 1991 when he resigned. After a prolonged backstage battle, Bernard Lapasset was elected in his place as the new president of the French Rugby Federation. Lapasset of course, went on to become Chairmain of the International Rugby Board.
Who captained the British and Irish Lions on tour to New Zealand in 1977?
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