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.
4 August 2002
More Gold for New Zealand rugby at the Commonwealth Games
This time at Manchester with Gordon Tietjens as coach and Eric Rush as captain New Zealand wins the sevens final beating Fiji 33-25.
New South Wales and Australia
67 internationals 1989-99
A Wallaby World Cup winner in 1991 who went on to play in three World Cups and become one of the world’s toughest and most competitive hookers. Back in 1989 Phil Kearns was one of Bob Dwyer’s young Wallaby picks, chosen out of Sydney club play to play the All Blacks. He was part of Dwyer’s long term plan with Australia’s future in mind. The plan worked. Players like Kearns, Tony Daly, Tim Horan and Jason Little all came through to be major factors in Australia’s victory over England at Twickenham to secure the second World Cup final.
In his career Kearns’ most competitive rival was the New Zealander Sean Fitzpatrick. They met on a number of occasions and several times they were rival captains as well. Kearns captained his country ten times in all but was then replaced as leader by Michael Lynagh for the 1995 World Cup.
Injuries took their toll on Kearns several times during his career. And after he suffered a severe Achilles tendon tear it was thought he might never make the top tier of play again. But after a gap of 18 months he was back in time to be part of the Wallaby squad which won again in the World Cup of 1999. Such courage to return was typical of this tough, uncompromising player who was much admired wherever he played.
In his retirement years he has continued his association with the game via Television commentary in Australia.
What age was Gareth Edwards when he became the world’s youngest test captain?