Rugby World Cup 2011

RWC tragedy and tribulation

RWC tragedy and tribulation

1. THE 1995 SPRINGBOKS

DID THESE guys do something to upset the rugby gods or what?

The side’s coach, Kitch Christie, was dead within three years of the 1995 final victory, finally succumbing to cancer after battling the disease for almost 20 years. Star flanker Ruben Kruger died last year after a protracted battle with cancer; another player, Krynauw Otto, was forced into premature retirement in 2000 after suffering bleeding on the brain; and halfback Joost van der Westhuizen was given between two and five years to live by doctors recently after it was announced he was battling motor neurone disease.

Japie Mulder narrowly avoided jail for indecently assaulting a young girl he knew over an extended period of time, and he and his family were later robbed at gunpoint by four assailants, while James Dalton’s wife claimed he attempted to murder her by trying to drown her in the bath and smother her with a dress.

2. RICHARD TSIMBA

THE COLOURFUL Zimbabwe centre emphasised all that is good about the Rugby World Cup, lighting up stadia with his pyrotechnic-laden performances.

His theatrics were a little heavy at times, however, and in 1987 the ‘Black Diamond’ was forced to leave the field after dislocating his shoulder while pulling off an extravagant tryscoring celebration against Romania – a game the Sables lost by one point.

Sadly, Tsimba, who was the elder brother of former Cats, Bulls, Cheetahs and Zimbabwe first five Kennedy Tsimba, died in a car accident in Zimbabwe in 2000, age 34.

3. MARC CECILLON

THE FORMER French captain was given a 20-year sentence (later reduced to 14 years on appeal) in November 2006 after being found guilty of murdering his wife two years earlier.

Cécillon, who played at the 1991 and 1995 tournaments, shot his wife, Chantal, five times with a hand gun at an end of season barbeque near Lyon.

The hulking former star was tied to a chair with electrical cord by partygoers before police arrived at the scene, but he was allegedly so drunk that he couldn’t remember what had happened until he woke up in a police cell the next day.

Cécillon later asked for forgiveness, blaming a lethal mix of “alcohol and depression” for his drunken rage.


4. MAX BRITO

IN 1995, Brito was a dashing young dreadlocked winger who arrived at the Rugby World Cup with his Côte d’Ivoire teammates with stars in their eyes.

But after just three minutes of the side’s final pool match against Tonga, Brito was crushed beneath an avalanche of bodies after being tackled (legally) by flanker Inoke Afeaki.

While the rest of the other players got up off the ground, the then 24-year-old lay motionless on the Rustenburg turf. Having shattered two of his vertebrae, the Senegal-born former electrician was left a quadriplegic.

Sadly, his life went downhill after that unfortunate incident, despite support from sections of the rugby community, with his wife leaving him and his two sons now only making grudging visits to his Bordeaux home.

5. RUPENI CAUCAUNIBUCA

IN A perfect world, the prodigiously talented Fiji wing would be making his test rugby swansong at the World Cup in New Zealand.

But the story of the Bua native with a penchant for nightclubs stopped being a fairytale a long time ago.

Instead, he’s plying his trade in France – resigned to making cameo appearances for Toulouse off the bench at the ripe old age of 31.

Tragically, Caucau’s World Cup experience only consisted of two games at RWC 2003 in Australia, where he scored sensational solo efforts against France (the try of the tournament) and Scotland.

Despite winning the French player of the year award in 2006, he was not picked to play for Fiji at the following year’s World Cup – having been banned for drug use earlier in the season – and made himself unavailable this year after earlier coming out of a self-imposed international retirement.

When he closed the door on test rugby in 2010, Caucau said that playing for Fiji had only brought him “bad luck”.

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