Springboks poisoned at 1995 Cup: Luyt

October 30, 2003 - 8:14am
Story by: NZPA

Former South African rugby supremo Louis Luyt has made the startling claim that the Springboks - just like the All Blacks - were poisoned at the 1995 World Cup.

The fertiliser millionaire and one-time powerbroker of Springboks rugby said food poisoning flattened most of the South African squad just before their 27-18 win over Australia in the tournament's opening match, the New Zealand Herald newspaper said.

Writing in his autobiography Walking Proud, Luyt blamed the outbreak of food poisoning on a meal of dodgy pasta.

He said the chefs were quickly sacked because of fears the team was vulnerable to further sabotage.

Former All Blacks coach Laurie Mains made similar allegations immediately after his team were beaten by South Africa in the final.

The claims by Mains centred on an infamous phantom poisoner named "Suzie".

Walking Proud was released in South Africa last week, and it is not yet known whether the book will become available in New Zealand.

Luyt's story also dwells on the aftermath to the cup final, where his victory speech at the post-match dinner raised more tempers than glasses.

At the event, the All Blacks were led from the dining room by manager Colin Meads, who called the speech a "disgrace", as the English team stood in a mock standing ovation.

Before leaving, All Blacks flanker Mike Brewer confronted Luyt and the pair had an angry exchange.

Luyt admitted he had been hot and bothered during his speech because of comments that had been made by rugby official Sir Ewart Bell, who had lavished praise on the World Cup organisers while thanking South Africa for "assisting".

"While it hardly ranks among the great speeches of our time, I do think I managed to contain my emotions and introduce a little humour," Luyt wrote.

He labelled his contentious gift of a gold watch to cup final referee Derek Bevan as the dumbest thing he had ever done.

At a time rugby was still officially an amateur sport, Luyt's book provides details of a deal he had with Springboks coach Kitch Christie to pay each player more than $500,000 if they won the final.

The book also makes claims of racism against former Springboks coach Nick Mallet and calls World Cup captain Francois Pienaar a Judas for negotiating a $300,000 fee if he could deliver his team to the rebel World Rugby Corporation.

Luyt resigned from his final rugby post on the executive committee of the Ellis Park-based Golden Lions in 2000 after a bitter power struggle with Cats Super 12 coach Mains.

He later admitted that he had illegally tapped Mains' telephone.

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