Rugby World Cup 1995: Were the All Blacks Poisoned By Dodgy Water Before Losing Final To South African Springboks?

06/05/2016 2:36 PM AEST | Updated 28/09/2016 10:00 PM AEST
le capitaine de l'équipe de rugby d'Afrique du Sud, François Pienaar (D) est félicité par le Président de la République Sud-africaine, Nelson Mandela (G), après la victoire de son équipe en finale de la Coupe du Monde de Rugby face à la Nouvelle-Zélande le 24 juin 1995 à Johannesburg.South African rugby team captain, Francois Pienaar (R), is congratulated by South African President Nelson Mandela (L) after South Africa won the Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand 24 June 1995 in Johannesburg. (Photo credit should read JEAN-PIERRE MULLER/AFP/Getty Images)

It's one of the oldest mysteries in sport, centred on one of the most famous victories in sport. But have we now solved the mystery of the 1995 Rugby World Cup final?

They made a movie about that match. It was called Invictus and starred Matt Damon as South African rugby captain François Pienaar and Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela. South Africa won a tense final 15-12, unifying a nation which had thrown off the last vestiges of the apartheid system of racial segregation just a year earlier.

But were the teams playing on the proverbial level playing field in the final?

Theories have long abounded about what really happened in that final. The reason there are so many theories is that New Zealand were completely dominant in that tournament. South Africa had been the second best team, no questions there. But New Zealand had Jonah Lomu (who sadly died last year). Enough said.


That was Jonah Lomu steamrolling England fullback Mike Catt in the World Cup semi final. Lomu was off balance too. Yet still he stampeded his hapless opponent. And he was just one of the stars of a rampant All Blacks team. What could possibly stop them winning the final?

Poisoned water, that's what. That's the new theory from a bodyguard to former president Nelson Mandela by the name of Rory Steyn.

“About two-thirds of the squad got very sick, properly sick," Steyn told the New Zealand Herald.

“I know what I saw… a team of guys lying on the floor, very, very ill. I don't think it was the food, I think it was the coffee and the tea and possibly even the drinking water."

1995 rugby world cup final

Whatever it was, these guys were way off their game.

Mr Steyn said he didn't think anyone involved with South African rugby played a part in the poisoning, claiming betting syndicates were behind the plot.

"The odds were on the All Blacks," he said.

The claims remain unsubstantiated and probably always will. But suffice to say, Invictus is one movie that probably deserves a prequel. Which is more than we can say from some higher profile movies.

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