1995 re­viewed

NZ Rugby World Tournament Guide - - CONTENTS -

This was the tour­na­ment that saw a new be­gin­ning for South Africa and for rugby. As was bril­liantly told by John Car­lin, in his book Play­ing the En­emy, Pres­i­dent Man­dela used the Spring­boks to unite South Africa. World Rugby had been smart enough to re­alise that not only did the tour­na­ment have to be hosted by one na­tion in 1995, but that the only choice was South Africa.

Apartheid had col­lapsed; Man­dela was in power and the Spring­boks were out of iso­la­tion. What bet­ter way to welcome the new South Africa into the fold than give them the host­ing rights?

The sec­ond story that played out in 1995 was the drive to­wards pro­fes­sion­al­ism. It had be­come faintly ridicu­lous that the whole busi­ness was still am­a­teur – that the play­ers were hav­ing to beg for time off work while the or­gan­is­ers made mil­lions. It was no sur­prise that a rebel pro­fes­sional league con­cept nearly man­aged to steal the play­ers and the game.

STAR OF THE TOUR­NA­MENT

There was one man who owned the 1995 event. JONAH LOMU [above] came of age in South Africa and put rugby on the world map. He was phe­nom­e­nal. In his prime and at 120kg, he could run round or over any­thing. He de­stroyed Ire­land, Wales and Scot­land and then to com­plete his own per­sonal Grand Slam he scored four tries against Eng­land. It was that per­for­mance against Eng­land that turned him into a global su­per­star and opened the eyes of TV moguls to the po­ten­tial rugby had as a pro­fes­sional sport.

HOW IT PLAYED OUT

The All Blacks didn’t take long to es­tab­lish they were in a dif­fer­ent league to ev­ery­one else. They were play­ing this pass and run game that no one could cope with and their ba­sic skills were sharper and bet­ter.

The Boks were another real con­tender – a point they proved when they beat de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Aus­tralia in the open­ing game. Eng­land and France were also pos­si­bil­i­ties to win it but the for­mer were blown off the park in the semi­fi­nal by a ram­pant All Black side and the lat­ter were des­per­ately un­lucky to be de­nied a valid try in the last minute of their semi­fi­nal in Dur­ban.

Once the Boks had scraped through to the fi­nal, maybe it was al­ways fate that they would some­how find a way to win as the whole sub-plot of uni­fi­ca­tion needed a fairy­tale end­ing. The coun­try had put be­hind old rifts and was heal­ing be­hind the most un­likely icon and on the day of the fi­nal, the strength of that emo­tion was huge. Per­haps the All Blacks were over­whelmed at play­ing against an en­tire na­tion and it didn’t help that, for what­ever rea­son, many of them were des­per­ately sick. But in the end...the tour­na­ment got an end­ing that seemed to be about right.

GAME OF THE TOUR­NA­MENT

The semi­fi­nal in Dur­ban be­tween France and South Africa had in­cred­i­ble ten­sion and drama with a late try not be­ing awarded to the French. But the game that caught ev­ery­one’s imag­i­na­tion was the other semi­fi­nal in Cape Town where the All Blacks played at a new level.

They had plot­ted re­venge – hav­ing lost to Eng­land in 1993 – for the bet­ter part of a year and had prac­tised specif­i­cally for that semi­fi­nal months in ad­vance. Lomu scored early and from there the ALL BLACKS grew in con­fi­dence, run­ning from deep and play­ing at a re­lent­less pace that left ENG­LAND de­stroyed be­fore half-time.

EN­DUR­ING MEM­O­RIES

LOMU run­ning over the top of Mike Catt in the semi­fi­nal.

ZIN­ZAN BROOKE drop­ping a goal with­out even paus­ing to set him­self.

An all out BRAWL be­tween CANADA AND SOUTH AFRICA in the pool rounds.

The FRENCH BACKS de­cid­ing to SHAVE THEIR HEADS and GROW BEARDS.

JOEL STRAN­SKY’S com­po­sure and ex­cel­lence in the fi­nal.

MAN­DELA wear­ing his Spring­bok No 6 shirt.

TO­TAL CON­TROL: The All Blacks were way too good for Eng­land.

JoelS­tran­sky­would drop the win­ning goal.

Spring­boks cel­e­brat­ing their vic­tory.

Jef Wil­son takes the high ball.

France edged Scot­land in

a clas­sic.

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