Of all the New Zealand centres to assume a different nationality 12,000 miles from home, none of them had ever managed an introductory blow as devastating as Bundee Aki’s. Days at the eye of a storm over the morality of capping an Aucklander who grew up dreaming to be an All Black at the expense of two Irishmen who never dreamt of playing for anyone else put him under public scrutiny of unprecedented intensity.
It was as if Aki, pictured right, was saying: “I hear the argument. Now I am going to show you what this means to me and why the Lord has meant this to be.”
It took him less than 60 seconds to make his point with a ferocity that has become the stuff of legend overnight.
His post-script – ‘All the glory goes to God’ – would have left his victim wondering what he had done to deserve such almighty Old Testament retribution.
Cornie Oosthuizen is a tighthead prop, at more than 20 stone so vast that the Springboks nickname him ‘Shrek’ after the eponymous ogre of Spielberg’s cartoon classic.
Aki, at 16 stone a force of nature in his own right, put him out for the count and into the pitchside ambulance.
It evoked instant memories of Scott Gibbs stopping Os du Randt in his tracks during the 1997 Lions series except that the Welshman was lighter than Aki and ‘The Ox’ heavier than Oosthuizen. So in one fell swoop, Aki had done more on debut than those nomadic Kiwi backs who had gone before him like Henry Paul, Riki Flutey, Shontayne Hape (all England), Tony Marsh (France), Brendan Laney (Scotland) and Sonny Parker (Wales).
Jamie who? A lot of Murphys have been famous for a lot of reasons – Audie Murphy (To Hell and Back), Alex Murphy (League superstar), Cillian Murphy (Peakie Blinders), Jimmy Murphy (post-Munich Manchester United manager), Geordan Murphy (Grand Slam winner), Noel Murphy (Lion King), Pat Murphy (New York Giants baseball), Eddie Murphy (American actor-comedian) but Jamie Murphy?
For sheer audacity, he probably beats the lot – a Welshman with an Irish name playing for Germany.
In Leipzig, Richard Wagner’s home-town where the composer knocked up his earliest operas, Jamie Murphy helped the Fatherland record a victory of thunderous proportion.
As an attempt to show the world that Teutonic domination of Brazil did not end with that seven-goal rout at the last FIFA World Cup, Murphy and his Germans subjected the South Americans to a similar hiding: 45-12. They did so far from the madding crowds of Twickenham, Cardiff, Paris and Dublin at the Bruno Plache Stadion, home of Lokomotive Leipzig FC. Murphy’s contribution from the bench provides further proof that his wings have grown with every move.
The 27-year-old centre kicked off in his native Bridgend with the Ravens.
Once airborne, he reached higher altitudes in Swansea as an Osprey and is now heading up among the stars higher as a fully fledged member of the German Eagles. And all because his grandmother came from Berlin.
In a game which literally knows no boundaries, more Fijians now play for more countries than ever before. So many have been poached to pursue more lucrative careers elsewhere that seven were in action over the weekend clad in almost as many colours as the rainbow.
There were two Fijians in blue at Twickenham (Nathan Hughes, Samesa Rokoduguni), four in the green-and-gold of Australia (Marika Koroibete, Tevita Kuridrani, Samu Kerevi, Henry Speight) and one in black (Waisea Naholo). All told they scored five tries, both for England, two more from Naholo for New Zealand plus one for Leone Nakawara, the ex-Glasgow lock who plays a Harlem Globetrotter, against Italy at Catania. What made his different was that he actually scored it for Fiji.
As a novel form of pre-match entertainment aimed at keeping their squad amused, the Wales management treated them to a visit by a magician in the fond hope that a little wizardry could get them a long way.
How ironic, then, that they should succumb to Kurtley Beale’s sleight of hand so perfectly executed that, like all the best tricks, nobody had the foggiest clue as to how the Wallaby conjuror had done it. That he followed the decisive try by drop-kicking the conversion with indecent haste aroused the suspicion that there was more to it than met the eye.
Not wishing to be hoodwinked, New Zealand referee Glen Jackson referred it to the man-in-the-van. After careful examination as to whether Beale had knocked the ball onGraham Hughes, the most experienced TMO in the Test arena, ruled that the Australian full-back had done nothing wrong even if further forensic examination might have suggested otherwise.
Despite their Union going bust and therefore no guarantee that they would be paid the smallest fee in the game, the South Sea Islanders almost ran Scotland out of an 82-point thriller at Murrayfield. Five tries worked at €100 a time, assuming they did get their €700 fee. England’s two tries, by contrast, worked out at €12,000 each.
And who’s not
After sweeping aside all opposition except Ireland in Dublin since taking charge, England’s head coach gave a passable impersonation of imploding with anger at what was happening before his very eyes at Twickenham. His apoplectic reaction said it all. As a display of anger from the commander of the Red Rose module, nobody had seen anything to match it since the cameras caught Martin Johnson slamming a ham-sized fist into a wooden ledge as his team disintegrated at Croke Park 10 years earlier. That England had talked themselves up all week about taking their game to a higher plane than anyone else’s made the plodding nature of a dull-as-ditchwater win over the durable Pumas all the more tedious. When will they ever learn?
Goodness knows what that self-confessed rugby aficionado, Diego Maradona, made of all those failed shots at goal, five in total from three players. And to think the worst offender, Juan Martin Hernandez, is the nephew of Maradona’s understudy at the 1982 World Cup, Santiago Hernandez of Estudiantes.
The All Blacks
In the definitive game of two halves, the double world champions followed a majestic first 40 in Paris with a second 40 notable only for its fumbling poverty. And yet they still won by 20 points. A sobering thought for the rest of the world.
Not over watching Australia beat them for the 13th time on the trot but over the time it took them to get out of the rain and under the Millennium Stadium’s roof. Tightened security meant that the last of the thousands missed the first half which explained all the empty seats before the crowd grew to more than 70,000.