1995 World Cup Memories

So, the 2015 Rugby World Cup final takes place this weekend. It’s been an interesting tournament with some memorable games (and some notable disappointments). Anyway, I suddenly remembered that in 1995 I was in South Africa during the Rugby World Cup. In fact I was visiting George Ellis at the University of Cape Town to work on a book, which was published in 1997. The book is now rather out of date, but I think it turned out rather well and it was certainly a lot of fun working on it!

Was that really twenty years ago?

Of course it was a complete coincidence that I timed my trip to Cape Town exactly to cover the period of the Rugby Word Cup. Well, perhaps not a complete coincidence. In fact I was lucky enough to get a ticket for the semi-final of that tournament between England and New Zealand at Newlands, in Cape Town. I was in the stand at one end of the ground, and saw New Zealand – spearheaded by the incredible Jonah Lomu – score try after try in the distance at the far end during the first half. Here is the first, very soon after the kickoff when Andrew Mehrtens wrong-footed England by kicking to the other side of the field than where the forwards were lined up. The scrambling defence conceded a scrum which led to a ruck, from which this happened:

Even more impressively I had a very good view when Zinzan Brooke scored at the same end with a drop-goal off the back of a scrum. Not many No. 8 forwards have the skill to do that!

It was one-way traffic in the first half but in the second half England played much better, with the result that all the action was again at the far end of the pitch. However, right at the end of the match Jonah Lomu scored another try, this time at the end I was standing. I’ll never forget the sight of that enormous man sprinting towards me and am glad it wasn’t my job to try to stop him, especially have seen what happened to Underwood, Catt and Carling when they tried to bring him down.

Anyway, I hope it’s a good final on Saturday. For what it’s worth, I did pick the two finalists correctly before the tournament. I’m expecting the All Blacks to beat Australia comfortably, but am not going to bet on the result!

4 Responses to “1995 World Cup Memories”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    I didn’t know you were there then. I’ve happy memories of Rob Andrew’s dropped goal to beat the Aussies in the quarter final. I remember with awe Lomu running through Mike Catt as if he wasn’t there in that semi.

    Saturday’s final will be close but I think the ABs will nick it. Nothing will exceed Japan stuffing the Saffers though. And Argentina were clearly lucky to have their application to join the Six Nations knocked back some years ago. They’ve learnt more and better by crossing the Pacific than the Atlantic and by staying in their own hemisphere.

  2. Malcolm MacCallum Says:

    My goodness! I had completely forgotten we were there at the same time, both with books as a motivation though mine took 15 years longer than yours! I do remember watching the final in the common room of the student (and academic visitor) residence Kopano. Fascinating to see all the non-white students cheering for their team, which not so long before would have been seen as their oppressors’ team, as rugby had been almost entirely a whites game.

    I too fingered this year’s finalists at the start and think NZ has the better chance of winning. Sadly the only tickets my daughter (a keen rugby fan) and I could get were for Wales v Uruguay: a good occasion but not a close game!

    • telescoper Says:

      I watched the final on the big screen along with thousands of others at the waterfront in Cape Town. I’ll never forget the noisy celebrations on the train back to Rondebosch!

  3. […] the end of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, I wrote a post recalling the World Cup of 1995, which was held in South Africa while I was visiting there. I had […]

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