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The South African Springboks will be facing off with the New Zealand All Blacks in the 2023 France Rugby World Cup final.
The two great rivals haven’t met in a RWC final since the dramatic decider of 1995, which saw the Boks win their first World Cup at home – and in turn, bringing their fractured country together in a euphoric sporting victory that signalled the end of apartheid.
The 2023 final is now being pitched as the rematch, 28 years later.
The All Blacks, and the New Zealand people as a whole, have not forgotten the fact that they lost the Johannesburg final 15-12.
Not because they missed the opportunity to rob South Africa and their new president Nelson Mandela of a unifying moment.
But because they were the ones who were robbed, allegedly.
According to New Zealand folklore, the All Blacks only lost the 1995 Rugby World Cup final because of an evil waitress who apparently poisoned their food and left a vast majority of their team with gastro.
Those within the land of the long white cloud who peddle the theory of deliberate poisoning – which struck 48 hours before the final – have suggested it was an act orchestrated by bookies who stood to lose big if the All Blacks won the tournament on South African soil, or even Mandela’s own government who desperately needed to mend race relations through sporting victory.
However, while the South Africans do indeed have a reputation for playing dirty. A lot could also be said for the New Zealanders, who have a reputation as some of the sorest losers in world sport.
The South Africans have always maintained that the Kiwis could not handle the heat in the kitchen, and have instead rewritten history to save face.
Whether the 1995 food posioning conspiracy is true or not, the executives and administrators at New Zealand Rugby Union are this week preparing yet another narrative that will be seeded to the world’s media in the event of yet another choke.
“Okay, so what’re we gunna say” said one NZRU staffmember, standing in front of the whiteboard.
“Was it steak fritz. Or a bad frog?”
“And who did it, was it the South Africans again, or is it the French?”
The board room ponders this.
“I like the French angle” says one executive up the back.
“Remember they are technically an enemy of ours because of all the nuclear testing in the Pacific”
The boardmembers nod in agreement.
“and if we win?” asked the man hosting this brainstorm.
Another executive pipes up.
“Then it’s the dawn of a new era in New Zealand rugby dominance and this is exactly what we had planned for?”