Monday, 8 August 2011

The Rugby World Cup: A Gallery Part 3) 1995

Many would call it the World Cup that hammered the last nail in the coffin of Apartheid in South Africa.
This is obviously open to historical and political debate. However, it would be false to argue that the images of Afrikaans and Blacks joining together in support of their nation had no political significance.


Lomu charges through the French defence
 The Stage was Set. England and France had left the tournament in the Quarter Finals. South Africa and New Zealand were to lock horns in this final battle for the trophy they both valued so highly.

South Africa were understandably nervous. The All Blacks were formidable opponents. However, there was one Kiwi who managed to capture the international attention of Rugby audiences and strike absolute fear into his opponents. The 6ft "5, 20 Stone Jonah Lomu was New Zealand's greatest asset in the 1995 Rugby World Cup. His phenominal pace and strength made him the archetypal Rugby player and his eyes were set on the Webb-Ellis Trophy.

24th June 1995 - Ellis Park, Johannesburg.

Sixty-Three Thousand people were in attendance for the Rugby World Cup Final. New Zealander's, Whites, Coloured and Black South Africans were all there. It truly was a union of diversity.

First Half

Mehrtens puts New Zealand 3 points ahead
The points started to grace the score board when Andrew Mehrtens of NZ put his country three points ahead after SA conceded a penalty in the sixth minute.

Following Mehrtens successful kick for goal, Joel Stransky levelled the score with a penalty kick in the eleventh minute. At half-time Stransky scored a drop goal to put his team three points ahead for the second half of this World Cup Final.

Second Half

Mehrtens levelled the score in the 55th minute and the tension between the two sides increased with each inch gained towards the opposition's try line. Full time came to an end with the both sides level. It proved to be a tryless, yet riveting World Cup Final. The victors would be decided in extra time.
Chester Williams: Springbok's
only Black player.
Extra Time

The teams returned to the pitch in a state of apprehension and determination. The hearts of New Zealander's and South African's weighed on the shoulders of the players, and both sides acknowledged that it was all or nothing. True to form, both Stransky and Mehrtens remained the only points scorers and both accumulated three more points for their teams.

However the decisive moment came when Joel Stransky, 30 metres from goal dropped the ball at his foot and then struck it towards the Kiwi goal posts.

For a moment, it seemed as if time had slowed as the ball gradually drifted through the up-rights. It was sealed. South Africa were the 1995 World Cup Champions.

It was the first time South Africa won the Rugby World Cup and boy did they celebrate in style!
Stransky's Winning Drop-Goal

Arguably the most dramatic moment of all was the awards ceremony in which President Mandela shook hands with Sprinbok captain Francois Pienaar and awarded him the World Cup Trophy.

The Springboks were a team of Afrikaans and often failed to win the support of Black and Coloured South Africans. However, when Nelson Mandela entered the pitch dressed in a Springbok shirt and cap, he conveyed that South Africa was no longer a divided nation.
President Mandela and World Cup Winner Francois Pienaar
Match Report
South Africa - J. Stransky (3pens, 2DrpGs)
New Zealand - A. Mehrtens (3Pens, 1DrpG)

Final Score SA 15-12 NZ

Well Done Boys.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

You Guessed it! Another Rugby Post - The Beauty of Music in Rugby

Ok, I admit that this week I have gone somewhat overboard with my Rugby posts. The truth is, I cannot wait for the World Cup. 

Have you ever been to a Rugby match?

Rugby matches consist of many things; supporting your team, copious amounts of food (and alcohol) but perhaps most liberating of all, singing.
I am a man who loves to sing. My housemates have often been awaken by renditions of Frankie Vallie's "Can't Take My Eyes off You" and "God Save The Queen", poor souls!

The Rugby Anthems enhance the whole experience of a match and have the power to move one to tears. 

Here is a selection of three of my favourite Match-Time Anthems.

This one brings a big smile to my face. Note Tom Jones (Wales' Greatest Son - apparently) struggling through the words to this patriotic Welsh hymn. Bread of Heaven (or Cwm Rhondda to you Welsh speakers out there) is a fantastic song to belt at a Rugby match. It epitomizes the jolly and patriotic character of the Welsh people and I love it!

A friend once dubbed it the Most Inspirational Rugby Anthem in the World. It's solemn and reflective. Flower of Scotland is a profound anthem that the Scots never fail to sing well. It's direct lyrics and simple melody emphasize the importance of Scottish history over all aspects of their culture, including Rugby.

This classical piece of music never fails to move me. In all honesty, I believe it to be the most beautiful melody in the world. Holst's Jupiter has become directly associated with Rugby Union in recent years. This stunning piece of music is the father (or perhaps grandfather) of the official song for the Rugby World Cup, known as World in Union. It is a melody almost all will recognise. The middle-section of Jupiter has become synonymous with Pride, Strength and Courage, the core principles of our nations most beautiful sport.

So here it is, Gutav Holst's Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity.

I favoured the Osaka Orchestra's rendition over the BBC Proms' simply because of the passion and emotion on the conductor's face. Skip to 3:00 for 'Thaxted' (the main melody) However, I recommend listening to the whole piece! :)
Thank you for reading

Saturday, 6 August 2011

The Rugby World Cup: A Gallery Part 2) 1991


Perhaps the most European of all the Rugby World Cups, 1991 saw the Five Nations hosting this great championship. The Tournament came down to a grand final between England and Australia. This would be the first of three occasions in which England reached the final of the RWC.

The match came down to a fairly close result of Australia 12 - 6 England.
75 thousand people attended Twickenham that day when the Wallabies became the second-ever holders of the Webb-Ellis trophy.

Match Report
Aus. - Tries 1 (Daly) Pens 2 (Lynagh)
Eng. - Tries 0 Pens 2 (Webb)

Friday, 5 August 2011

The Rugby World Cup: A Gallery - Part 1) 1987

It's possibly the Greatest Sporting Event in the World, The Rugby World cup is certainly Rugby at it's best. The history between the great nations that come together in this grand tournament truly depicts what an emotive and passionate event the RWC is. With England V Wales at Twickenham tomorrow, I can't help but feel the tournament is fast-approaching. The truth is, I can't wait!

So, I thought those of you who enjoy sport and culture might appreciate a gallery of images in tribute to the Rugby World Cup Tournament.
Many find it hard to believe that the RWC only began in 1987. However, this is true. As sporting tournaments go, the RWC is merely a young 'un against OAPs such as the FIFA Football and Rugby League WCs.
There was great debate within the IRFB whether there should be a Rugby Union WC. However, it was decided that in 1985 that an International Rugby competition would be put in place. In 1987 the inaugural tournament was held in New Zealand and Australia and thus the most stunning international tournament was established.

The first ever world cup came down to a grand final between France and New Zealand. A very decisive victory for the All Blacks of 29-9 bestowed them as the inaugural holders of the Rugby World Cup. Forever since, the All Blacks have remained a formidable opponent in this tournament and arguably the most intimidating team to face in the final.