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Still no pity for poisoned All Blacks 25 years on: 'No one forced them to eat seafood days before final'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Allsport/Getty Images)

Nearly 25 years on from South Africa’s breakthrough World Cup triumph, Ed Griffiths, the 1995 SA Rugby CEO, still hasn’t sympathy for the excuse from the beaten All Blacks that some of their players were ill for the final following food poisoning. 

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This Monday – May 25 – marks the 25th anniversary of the opening match of the third World Cup finals, a victory for the host Springboks over defending champions Australia in Cape Town. 

That first-day success ignited the winning run that took the self-styled Rainbow Nation, featuring in their maiden finals following the end of apartheid, all the way to the June 24 decider in Johannesburg which they won against the All Blacks courtesy of an extra-time drop goal from Joel Stransky.

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RugbyPass brings you Bringing Home Gold, a short documentary featuring Schalk Brits reflecting on South Africa’s 2019 World Cup triumph

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RugbyPass brings you Bringing Home Gold, a short documentary featuring Schalk Brits reflecting on South Africa’s 2019 World Cup triumph

While South Africa celebrated jubilantly, their joy encapsulated by president Nelson Mandela presenting the trophy to winning skipper Francois Pienaar, New Zealand coach Laurie Mains blamed the hotel his team had been staying in for a number of his players falling sick ahead of the final. 

This 1995 sickness has become legendary over the years, a waitress named Suzie alleged to have been the phantom poisoner of the All Blacks. However, Griffiths has no pity for New Zealanders who were under the weather for the final, stating it was their fault – and nobody else – for eating seafood. 

In an extensive interview coming soon to RugbyPass ahead of the 25th anniversary of the start of the 1995 World Cup finals, Griffiths said: “Look, it’s true that five or six of them did have a stomach upset and I remember seeing Marc Ellis vomiting on the side of the field, so it’s certainly true. 

“But all I would say on that is they ate seafood, sort of prawns, crayfish and stuff days before a World Cup final. I mean, most people would know that seafood is something that at the wrong time can give you food poisoning and clearly some of them seemed to have picked up food poisoning from that. 

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“There was all talk of this woman called Suzie from Southern Sun and there were all sorts of rumours about it. I remember Laurie Mains talking about it. But all I will say is that whatever they ate it was their choice to eat it. No one forced them to eat seafood days before the World Cup final.”

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Jon 23 hours ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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