Poisoned All Blacks, living Elvis and the fake moon landing: What some Kiwis believe
Decades have passed since former All Black Eric Rush saw most of his team notoriously fall ill right before the 1995 Rugby World Cup - but he's asked about it regularly.
Rush didn't know what happened, and says noone will ever know. "We would've preferred that never got mentioned at all ... it could only look like sour grapes. Looking back at it now, it was good for South Africa to win ... it was a good thing for their team."
The largest survey to ever look at conspiracy theories in depth in New Zealand found support for the theory that the All Blacks were deliberately poisoned remains strong.
The survey also found most New Zealanders believe at least one conspiracy theory is true to an extent.
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Victoria University professor Marc Wilson and PhD candidate John Kerr surveyed 9000 people on their thoughts on the moon landing, Elvis faking his own death, 9/11, and other conspiracies, and compared the results to a similar 2008 survey.
More than half, 51.5 per cent, of participants believed it likely New Zealand was being manipulated by "big business" - up from 46.6 per cent in 2008.
And slightly more people believe the All Blacks were poisoned; 42.4 per cent said it was likely, compared to 40 per cent in 2008. The theory floated after most of the team got sick ahead of the final against host South Africa.
Wilson said people who believe in conspiracies are not paranoid loons, and some so-called conspiracies are real.
"For at least some people, at least some of the time, conspiracy theorising serves the psychological function of helping us feel more comfortable with the idea that we live in a dangerous, capricious world."
Rush was one of five players who skipped dinner that night to get Pizza Hutt instead - and didn't get sick. Word spread fast and to this day, people raise the theory with him all the time.
The survey showed support for theories that Princess Diana was assassinated, NASA faked the moon landing, and that Elvis faked his own death, has reduced since the last survey.
It found supporters of Winston Peters and NZ First, and non voters, were most likely to endorse conspiracies.
Overall, 73 per cent of participants believed at least one conspiracy theory was true to some extent.
Dr Matthew Dentith, a conspiracy theories researcher for the University of Bucharest, said the jump in popularity for the big business conspiracy theory reflected a 10-year trend of growing suspicion in big companies.
"It's kind of related to what we're seeing in the US with Donald Trump and the Brexit in the UK ... we've become really suspicious of what businesses are doing.
Sport conspiracy theories were interesting because "they don't have a real-world effect ... they don't challenge a political notion".
Some people may be hanging on to the All Blacks poisoning theory because that era had passed.
"The further we're getting away from the event, the more likely people will be to entertain it."
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Sunday Star Times