Cape Town - A New Zealand scribe says he is tired of hearing
claims that the All Blacks were poisoned before losing the 1995 Rugby World Cup
final to South Africa.
This comes after reports again surfaced that
the All Blacks were laid low before the final at Ellis Park.
Rory Steyn, who was chief bodyguard to former president
Nelson Mandela, has suggested that betting syndicates sought to poison the All
Blacks in order to make huge money from an upset, with New Zealand the
favourites heading into the match.
"On the Thursday before the final, which was on
Saturday, they were poisoned. About two-thirds of the squad got very sick,
properly sick," Steyn told the New Zealand Herald this week.
However, Tony Smith - a columnist for the Stuff.co.nz
website - said it’s time New Zealanders put the issue to bed.
“Who cares if the All Blacks were poisoned on the eve of the
1995 Rugby World Cup final?" Smith wrote.
“Why keep dredging up the distant past?
“Does it really matter, 21 years on, if there were nefarious
reasons for the vomiting and diarrhoea bug that ripped through the All Blacks
like a double dose of Epsom salts?”
“Rory Steyn, chief bodyguard to South African president
Nelson Mandela, first made the claim the All Blacks had been deliberately
poisoned in a book published in 2000. He blamed betting syndicates, who stood
to make millions from a Springboks win.
“The hoary controversy has resurfaced, 16 years later,
because Steyn is in New Zealand on a speaking tour.
“It's all a little tiresome.
"Everyone's entitled to an opinion, but Steyn hasn't produced
any incontrovertible proof. He's merely speculated someone could have got to
the All Blacks' coffee, tea or drinking water.”
South Africa won the game 15-12 thanks to Joel Stransky's
late drop goal, sparking memorable scenes at Ellis Park as the Springboks
celebrated a first Rugby World Cup triumph, with the trophy famously presented
to skipper Francois Pienaar by Mandela.
According to Smith, South Africa deserve praise for
upsetting the odds to win their first World Cup.
“The Springboks deserved credit for devising tactics to
defuse the All Blacks' chief attacking weapon, giant wing Jonah Lomu.
“South Africa's victory seemed almost pre-ordained. It was a
rallying point for a nascent rainbow nation.
“In truth, the All Blacks' fate was probably confirmed when
Mandela appeared for the pre-match formalities wearing Springboks captain
Francois Pienaar's No 6 jersey.”
CLICK HERE to read the full column on the Stuff.co.nz website