By Clyde Mooney – editor Australian Hotelier
One of the world’s toughest rugby competitions continues to enthral fans and deliver thirsty crowds to the pub community.
The first of the best of three test matches was held last Saturday, resulting in a nail-biting 12-12 draw between the Wallabies and the All Blacks.
Himself something of a football stalwart, Nags’ owner Dan O’Hara (pictured above with family, and special guest Jonah Lomu) regaled to TheShout stories around Stephen Larkham’s presence at Friday’s dinner, and legends Stirling Mortlock and Jonah Lomu on Saturday night.
“Jonah told some interesting stories about meeting [Nelson] Mandela during the 1995 world cup campaign,” recalls O’Hara.
“But my favourite story was when he was asked about how close he was to going to NFL:
“I did try out for the Dallas Cowboys,” relayed Lomu. "We had to do a 40-metre sprint test, a 10-metre run and hit a bag, where they measured the velocity and power of the hit, and a maximum rep bench press in a minute with 100kgI asked the person what’s a good score, and he replied ‘45 reps is the best result anyone has ever got’. I did 60.”
Similarly, Rugby Royalty Mark Ella and a handful of Wallabies attended an intimate lunch at WDS Group’s newly-acquired Bellevue Hotel, courtesy of Lion’s sponsorship of the team that affords them a couple of such occasions each season.
Lion trade director Doug May hosted the invitation only occasion, with Ella interviewing the players ahead of Saturday’s first match.
Veteran footballer and SBS commentator, Ella prompted tales around “memories of the All Blacks”.
This included his own story of an early encounter where he described an Australian try in the first three minutes of a Bledisloe test that stunned the Auckland stadium.
Far from heralding a potential win on Kiwi soil, Ella remembered it “pissed them off” and the All Blacks went on to score five unanswered tries and comfortably win the game.