Since turning professional in 1995, rugby union has been the perfect stage for a David versus Goliath clash; if it’s not Shane Williams weighing in at 12 stone and 5ft 7in against the almighty 6ft 2in and 18 stone, Lesley Vainikolo, it’s Japan versus South Africa. There’s rarely an equilibrium in the game, which is what makes the contact sport so entertaining; so bruising.
Of course the sport can boil over, the passion, the intensity is too great not to. The vile moments in the sport of eye-gouging, and lamping someone countless times in the face need to be washed out quicker than Tom Hanks in a Castaway movie. But, they’ll always be there because of players playing on the edge, playing on the margins of the unwritten rules.
Why? Because players, coaches and fans all encourage it; you only need to look at former British Lions centre, Ray Gravell, to realise how such tenacity and contact is promoted…
“You’ve got to get your first tackle in early, even if it’s late.”
However, you can’t always encourage it; just ask, Elliot Daly, it ruined the guy’s 2016…
RUGBY: England's Elliot Daly suspended for 3 weeks after red card for dangerous challenge https://t.co/uf5qHVq15I
— JAY J BOTES (@jayjbotes) November 29, 2016
Still, there’s only one king of the contact, though; Jonah Lomu, the man who makes Julian Savea look like he’s still trying to hit bags in training. As much as rugby is a team sport, as much as you need all fifteen players firing, Lomu could simply do it on his own. The king of the bosh, and poor old Mike Catt had to find out the hard way, whilst being on the biggest stage…
“I can still hear his footsteps in my mind”.
“I first felt his left knee, knocking me backwards off my feet… Next came his right and I went from my backside onto my back with the force of the collision.
“I grasped for something to hold on to. But he was over the top of me, those tree-trunk legs pumping like pistons. And then it was over.”
All players will show as much spirit as possible when in the contact area, but Lomu was way ahead of everyone; the individual who made a team.
“Remember that rugby is a team game; all 14 of you make sure you pass the ball to Jonah.”
FAX to All Blacks before 1995 World Cup semi-final.
The All Black led the way in the contact zone, he was unrivalled; the true Goliath in any rugby match.
It’s a shame Lomu was never financially appreciated as much as these boys…