Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
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Some wisdom here from one of Australia's great mythical 'sporting' characters; 'The truth is deafening, no matter how softly it is spoken.'
'Rugby is a nonsense, but a very serious nonsense.'
His simple philosophy for sporting success; 'Winning Starts on Monday.'
On the eve of Pontypool v New Zealand in 1989, i jotted down the simple philosophy of how Pontypool coach John Perkins wanted his team to mentally approach their big upcoming game; 'Boys, you've to live it, eat it, sleep it and shit it if you want to win!'
"Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.' (from the film 'Bull Durham')
'...to win by one is enough.'
'Always avoid prophesying on things beforehand; it's a much better policy to prophesy after the event has taken place.'
'If winning isn't everything why bother to keep the score?'
'As your reputation gets bigger, the gaps and chances to go through them get smaller.'
'A rugby tour is like sex. When its good it's great, and when it's bad - hey! It's still pretty good!'
'I'd rather spend half an hour in the company of a top carpenter, than three hours in the company of an average brain surgeon'
...when thinking about retirement; 'When your eyes go, and your legs go, and your fans go; then it's time for you to go too.'
'Often when a team is at the bottom, there's something wrong at the top.'
'In Ireland the inevitable never happens but the unexpected constantly does.'
Talking about the 1988 World Cup rugby league final on Eden Park in Auckland; 'When the Kiwis ran onto the field we could see the poor bastards were shitting themselves.' Sydney Morning Herald 24 November 1992.
NZ had to go to Brisbane for this Sunday game; the ABs scored 8 tries to 1! Winning the first World Cup was now only a week away!
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.
After the finish of the 2011 Rugby World Cup who were the youngest and oldest players from all countries to win a World Cup medal 1987-2011?