Jonah Lomu tries to hold off James Small in the 1995 Rugby World Cup final at Ellis Park. Picture: Mark Baker, Reuters
Jonah Lomu tries to hold off James Small in the 1995 Rugby World Cup final at Ellis Park. Picture: Mark Baker, Reuters

The Glory of '95: 3 big controversies of the 1995 Rugby World Cup

By Jacques van der Westhuyzen Time of article published Jun 8, 2020

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AS we celebrate the 25 year anniversary of the Springboks winning the 1995 Rugby World Cup, rugby writer

looks back at the three biggest controversies of the 1995 tournament.

'Suzie' and the 'poisoned' All Blacks ...

One of the most talked-about issues following the Springboks’ beating of the All Blacks in the final was the rumour the New Zealand players had been poisoned on the eve of the game - the reason given as to why they didn’t win.

“Suzie” was identified by the New Zealanders, including coach Laurie Mains, as the poisoner-in-chief and many All Blacks supporters and team members maintain to this day the players had been given dodgy food and drink prior to the big match.

Nothing has ever been proved and more recently details emerged that the New Zealand players got sick after consuming food at a Joburg eatery in the days before the final and caused their own ill health.

Did Abdelatif Benazzi slide over the line in the Durban semi-final?

The Boks simply had to get on the field and play their semi-final against France in Durban if they stood any chance of progressing to the final.

Torrential rain effectively made the Kings Park pitch unplayable and were the match to be called off, France would have advanced because of their better disciplinary record.

But, the game was miraculously given the go-ahead and the Boks won 19-15, but not before a major, and controversial, refereeing decision was made by Derek Bevan. France forward Abdelatif Benazzi seemed to go over for what seemed a legitimate try, only to be denied by Bevan. Was it a try, or wasn’t it?

The big blow-up in the Battle of Boet Erasmus ... 

The Battle of Boet Erasmus, when the Boks beat Canada 20-0, will be remembered for everything but the rugby.

In an ill-tempered clash, the Canadians looked to niggle and aggravate the Boks at every opportunity and eventually the big blow-up happened in the second half.

A crunching tackle by Pieter Hendriks on Winston Stanley resulted in a bust-up that saw Bok hooker James Dalton and Canadians, Rod Snow and Gareth Rees, red-carded. Hendriks was later also suspended, leaving the Boks without two key players and a disciplinary record that could have come back to bite them in the semi-finals.

And, as a bonus, here are two other big controversies from past Rugby World Cup tournaments ...

Craig Joubert won't be invited for a whisky ...

Scotland were on the brink of a rare semi-final appearance and unexpected win against Australia in the quarters in 2015 when referee Craig Joubert penalised a Scottish player for being off-sides at a lineout late in the game.

Replays showed the player was not offsides and that the incorrect decision had been made by Joubert. It allowed the Wallabies to kick a last-gasp penalty and win the game 35-34.

France floors the All Blacks after Wayne Barnes shocker

Another referee was at the heart of a major controversy in 2007 (the year the Boks won under Jake White) when England’s Wayne Barnes failed to penalise a clear forward pass by the French team in their quarter-final match against New Zealand.

Barnes allowed a pass by Freddie Michalak to Yannick Jauzion to stand, which resulted in a match-winning try being scored in the shock 20-18 triumph by France. Barnes also controversially sin-binned New Zealand centre Luke McAlister at a crucial time in the match.


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