By Jim Cook
THE meal that poisoned a group of senior All Blacks before the 1995 Rugby World Cup final was eaten at a restaurant outside the team hotel, a hotel executive has claimed.
Tony Rubin, who was on the management of the Crowne Hotel in Sandton where the All Blacks were based said the group had gone to a restaurant outside the hotel and eaten seafood on the Friday before the final.
Becoming sick, the players decided to keep their unauthorised nocturnal prawn feast from coach, Laurie Mains, as they feared his wrath, South African newspapers have reported.
After they lost the final to South Africa with some players clearly affected by illness, Mains blamed the hotel and said he had been told a waitress named ‘Suzie’ was the poisoner.
Rubin said he felt it was time to tell the truth after the story was resurrected in New Zealand last week.
Suzie didn’t exist. We knew what had happened but (hotel chain) Southern Sun took a decision not to talk about the incident," Rubin said.
The All Blacks management always maintained the players became ill after a meal at the Crowne. Mains even employed a private investigator who reported a Far Eastern betting syndicate had paid a waitress called Suzie at the hotel to put something in their water.
Rory Steyn, a former head of security for South African president Nelson Mandela assigned to the team wrote in his book One Step Behind in 2000 the All Blacks had ‘definitely been poisoned’.
Mains’ claims were backed up at the time by team officials Sir Brian Lochore and Colin Meads.