How Jonah Lomu Led to the Success of World Cup
“On 18 June 1995, Rupert Murdoch was sitting in his Los Angeles office watching the World Cup semi-final between England and New Zealand,” Sydney Morning Herald rugby columnist Spiro Zavos writes. “England winger Tony Underwood had winked at Jonah Lomu at the end of the haka. Lomu was furious. He scored four tries in one of the greatest displays of power running in the history of rugby. ‘Who is that player?’ an entranced Murdoch asked. ‘Jonah Lomu,’ he was told. ‘We must have him, we must have him,’ Murdoch said.
“So taken was Murdoch with the potential of rugby as a worldwide product that he negotiated a ten-year $70 million deal with SANZAR for Super Rugby. Lomu stayed in rugby because of this Murdoch money. A panel that included Carling, a victim of one of Lomu’s bumping charges that so impressed Murdoch, recently named him the Rugby World Cup’s greatest player, rugby’s version of Muhammad Ali, ‘a heavyweight with global reach’. The New Zealander, with his Tongan ancestry, rather than Webb Ellis, is the real ‘onlie begetter’ of modern rugby.”
Lomu was born in Auckland in 1975. He had sixty-three caps as an All Black after debuting in 1994.
Original article by Spiro Zavos, The Sydney Morning Herald, September 18, 2015.
Photo by Vincent Amalvy/AFP.