Ex-SA rugby boss says All Blacks are to blame for illness before 1995 RWC loss

Saracens' CEO Edward Griffiths (File)
Saracens' CEO Edward Griffiths (File)

An unwise decision to dine on seafood - and not a dodgy waitress called Suzie - cost the All Blacks at the 1995 Rugby World Cup, claims a former top South African rugby official.

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Almost 25 years have passed since the All Blacks' loss to the Springboks at the World Cup final in Johannesburg and, still, the debate about what caused some New Zealand players to fall ill prior to the match at Ellis Park continues.

In an interview with the RugbyPass website ahead of the 25th anniversary of the global tournament in South Africa, former SA Rugby CEO Edward Griffiths suggests the All Blacks only had themselves to blame for the illness that affected a number of players in the lead-up to the most important game of their lives.

While All Blacks coach Laurie Mains later said a hotel worker by the name of Suzie was responsible for poisoning his players, the allegation couldn't be substantiated.

The Springboks won 15-12 after the game went into overtime, with flyhalf Joel Stransky kicking the decisive drop goal - much to the delight of supporters from the Rainbow Nation.

The sight of several All Blacks vomiting on the sideline suggested all was not well in their camp, and later Mains came out with the explosive claim that the team had been deliberately poisoned.

Griffiths was having none of it, though.

"Look, it's true that five or six of them did have a stomach upset and I remember seeing Marc Ellis vomiting on the side of the field, so it's certainly true," Griffiths said.

"But all I would say on that is they ate seafood, sort of prawns, crayfish and stuff days before a World Cup final. I mean, most people would know that seafood is something that at the wrong time can give you food poisoning and clearly some of them seemed to have picked up food poisoning from that.

"There was all talk of this woman called Suzie from Southern Sun and there were all sorts of rumours about it. I remember Laurie Mains talking about it. But all I will say is that whatever they ate it was their choice to eat it. No one forced them to eat seafood days before the World Cup final."

A number of All Blacks who played that day have refused to blame the illness for the defeat.

- Compiled by Sport24 staff

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