Stafford Collection Magazine Autumn 2022 - Flipbook - Page 25
It’s one of the all-time iconic moments of sport
— thirty seconds from the end of the rugby
World Cup Final in 2003, and Jonny Wilkinson’s
famous right boot sends the ball spinning
between the posts for England’s winning score.
Everyone who saw it remembers it.
But there was another incident in that match which might sum up why
rugby fans love the game, and why mothers of small boys often hate it.
The Australian captain and scrum half George Gregan collects the ball
on the half volley and makes a threatening break down the touch line.
For a moment, things look dangerous for England, but then a grim manmountain in a white shirt appears in front of him like a very solid brick wall.
Gregan is driven backwards off his feet, his legs still cycling in midair like a cartoon character, and carried back bodily five or six yards, still
wondering what’s happened to him. And then he hits the ground like a
sack of concrete dropped from a five-storey rooftop, and mothers of young
rugby players all over the world shudder at the thud.
In fact, Gregan’s fine, and the man-mountain simply turns and jogs
away ready for the next big hit. But what a monster he must be to dump an
international rugby player on his backside with such violence.
Well yes, up to a point. At a very fit 6’1” and 220 lb, Mike Tindall isn’t
often going to have sand kicked in his face, except by extraordinarily
stupid people. His once spectacularly broken nose gave him the prizefighter look that suggested nothing was going to get past him on the
rugby field. And yet, after 75 appearances for England between 2000
and 2011, including that World Cup medal, practically everyone who
knows him will acknowledge that he has a secret. He’s one of the most
easygoing, gentlest of men that you’ll meet.