I’m very sad to hear of the passing of the rugby and sporting great Jonah Lomu.
Jonah changed the world for a lot of people and made rugby much more interesting and as a consequence commercial for its teams and players.
Being working class from Glasgow, we naively considered rugby as a “poofs game” played by over-privileged posh boys who liked to abuse each other in their dormitory’s.
How wrong can you be?
Well it might have been played by the posh schools in the UK, but elsewhere in the world, it was a game for real men.
Jonah was central to changing my opinion back in 1995 when The Rugby World Cup was being played in South Africa.
At the time, I had just finished my part-time university honours degree course, 5 years of study whilst working a 40 hour week in Engineering.
As a celebration, 16 of us spent a weekend on the lash and off the leash in Dublin, pubbing and clubbing and partaking of everything that this fine city has to offer .. well most of it, I was a married man at the time.
On the Sunday afternoon, the boys wanted to watch the semi-final between England and New Zealand, I went along for the beer and chat, but wasn’t too bothered about the game.
All the talk in the media at the time was how Will Carling would sort of Jonah Lomu .. I will confess ignorance and hadn’t heard much of either apart for a vague awareness that Carling was the English darling at the time.
We got to the bar on O’Connell Street early to make sure we had a seat with a good view of the screens, just swell as the pub was packed.
Before the game started, a crowd of English lads arrived, standing at the bar, confident and boisterous singing some bollocks about low swinging chariots.
The 16 of us Scottish guys left them to it and remained quiet as did the other clientele, they may or may not have been English or England supporters, at this point it was hard to tell.
The game started ..
And was all over in 20 minutes!
Jonah scored 4 tries, the most famous of which features in the video below were he picks up the ball from a bad pass, evades one tackle from Tony Underwood, out-powers Carling and then runs over the top of England defender Mike Catt.
The place went absolutely mental .. turns out the only people supporting England were the now quiet boys at the bar.
I have no beef with English people, none at all, in fact I have many English friends, but theres just something arrogant about their commentators that makes the rest of the world love to see them get beat regardless of the sport .. football, rugby, tiddlywinks!
Jonah didn’t make me a rugby fan that day but he certainly changed my opinion and I watched Scotland in the recent World Cup with pride.
RIP big guy .. a complete legend.
Match report from BBC