New Zealand’s All Blacks rugby team were poisoned just 24 hours before the sensational 1995 Rugby World Cup final which saw outsiders South Africa claim the title, a bodyguard to former president Nelson Mandela has claimed.
Rory Steyn, Mr Mandela’s head of security during his time in office who the president appointed to ensure the security of the mighty New Zealand national team, said he believed betting syndicates were responsible.
“About two-thirds of the squad got very sick, properly sick,” he told New Zealand’s Herald newspaper. “I don’t think it was the food, I think it was the coffee and the tea and possibly even the drinking water.
“But I know what I saw … A team of guys lying on the floor, very, very ill.”
The South African win against the All Blacks by 15 points to 12 at Johannesburg’s Ellis Park was one of the biggest sporting upsets of all time but brought glory and brought much-needed unity to the country emerging from apartheid with Mr Mandela at its helm.
He donned a Springbok shirt for the opening match of what was traditionally a white sport in South Africa and rallied the entire country behind the national team in a feat documented in the Hollywood film Invictus.
But the New Zealand doctor and manager felt strongly that the playing field had not been level. They were sufficiently suspicious about the bout of food poisoning that struck down their team that they called in a private detective.
Mr Steyn said he doubted anyone from the South African side would have been sufficiently “evil” to sabotage the opposite side’s chances and pointed to betting syndicates who stood to lose millions by the loss of the stronger side.
He said the level of “paranoia” around the team’s security strengthened after its semi-final win over England in Cape Town, and when they returned to Johannesburg ahead of the final it was decided they would eat separately to the rest of their hotels’ guests.
“On the Thursday before the final, which was on Saturday, they were poisoned,” he said. He said there was no correlation between what the players ate, and who got sick, and suggested instead the water they drank had been contaminated.
“I’m pretty convinced, though I have no proof of what I am saying, that it all involved money and betting syndicates and the fact that the odds were hugely in favour of the All Blacks, they were devastating in that tournament,” he said.
“I don’t think it was the food, I think it was the coffee and the tea and possibly even the drinking water”
“The odds were on the All Blacks, the money was on the All Blacks and I think someone needed to level the odds somewhere.”
All Blacks flanker Paul Henderson told the New Zealand Herald last year that he had an encounter with a British bookmaker at the hotel who told him his business would go bankrupt if South Africa won.
“He was talking about it, freaking about it and if anyone was going to have the motivation then it would have to be that chap up there,” he said. The team rallied ahead of the match but were still weak and struggling with the altitude, according to manager Brian Lochore.
“If you had asked me what the score was going to be on the Saturday morning I thought about 30 to South Africa and nil to New Zealand,” he told The Herald.
Source : Online