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OSM's sporting plaques

Crowne Hotel Plaza, Sandton, South Africa

Sunday July 4, 2004
The Observer

The date: 22 June 1995
Sporting plaque awarded to: The Sandton Crowne Plaza

The abiding memory of the 1995 Rugby World Cup Final was of Nelson Mandela, clad in a Springboks jersey, handing the Webb Ellis trophy to Fran√čois Pienaar in front of a joyful home crowd. But were the real heroes to be found within the New Zealand team hotel, the Crowne Plaza? Over half of the All Blacks squad were struck down with food poisoning just before the game. Coach Laurie Mains blamed 'Suzie', a mysterious waitress, though the hotel management disavowed her existence. Tony Rubin, one of the Crowne's managers, counter-claimed that some of the team had broken the coach's rules by going out for seafood. But there were other incidents: listening devices were discovered in rooms and synchronised car alarms rang out around the hotel the night before the final. New Zealand captain Sean Fitzpatrick recalls, 'Before the 95 World Cup, Louis Luyt, the South African RFU President, had told me, "Sean, I'll do everything I can to ensure an All Blacks v. South Africa final." But once he'd got that, we were on our own.'

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