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.
And on a damp Friday the ABs passed 50 points in a test for the first time; they beat Italy 70-6 with John Kirwan running 75 metres to score, untouched.
Mont-de-Marsan and France
40 internationals for France 1957–67
A Mont-de-Marsan wing who scored 23 tries in internationals for his country and who stayed in the French team for 10 years. Captain of his country in 1967, taking over from fellow club man Michel Crauste, Darrouy led the team to a Five Nations championship win and was so pleased he sent a famous telegram to President de Gaulle containing just two words – ‘Mission accomplished.’
He was once described as a ‘greyhound’ wing in the style of Adolphe Jaureguy, a star French player in the 1920s.
Darrouy was captain on his last tour, to South Africa in 1967, one of the few wingers to lead any international team on a tour. This was France’s only four-test series: his team lost the first two games but surprised with a win in the third and a draw in the fourth.
At the time of his retirement he was France’s highest try-scorer in internationals and had also beaten Jean Dupuy’s record as France’s most-capped wing.
His best performance in an international came when he scored three tries against Ireland at Lansdowne Road in 1964. He also had the satisfaction of sprinting nearly 50 metres to score the winning try against South Africa in Springs in the only test of France’s 1964 tour.
What age was Gareth Edwards when he became the world’s youngest test captain?