Walking down memory lane we take a look at the first two Rugby World Cups and see what some of the players who won the title said about their win.
Some of the comments are laid out here by Buck Shelford, Michael Jones and John Gallagher in the inaugural championship from the New Zealand All Blacks and the Australians David Campese and his skipper in 1991 Nick Farr-Jones of their Twickenham victory.
Buck Shelford on the 1987 win:
“It was fantastic. It’s very hard to describe it, it’s very personal. Everyone has got their own way of describing what it was like to be a world champion. It is quite humbling to be a world champions,” strong bustling Number 8, Shelford said.
“To win a Cup at its first format was even bigger, because everyone will remember the first World Cup. In 100 years everyone in New Zealand will remember the first World Cup was won by the All Blacks.
“Winning that first World Cup, no one can take that away from us. You saw the joy that it gave the people [of New Zealand], not so much the rugby team because we were pretty tired afterwards, but the joy the people got from us winning it.”
“’87 was a great era and I think the football we played that year was superb. It was ground breaking rugby, so far ahead of the rest of the world then with the ideas of Brian Lochore, Grizz Wyllie and John Hart,” recalled Shelford.
“We wanted to be the fittest team at the World Cup, we would run people off their feet, be the strongest at the set piece, win our lineout ball, win our scrums and play a brand of rugby which was based on reaching excellence really.
“Those were our goals and we set that by going all the way.”
Michael Niko Jones on the 1987 win:
“It was just a fantastic season in my life really, in many ways just to be selected for the All Blacks was a dream come true in the first instance and then to be playing in New Zealand, in front of our home crowds and in front of our own people and it was the inaugural World Cup,” Jones said.
“Just all those circumstance lining up, and then to be able to score the first try in that first game, there was a lot of firsts, so just to be part of that, to be playing with all these great players who were at the top of their games at that time, it was definitely a dream come true and it seems quite surreal now looking back.
“But it is something I will always treasure and really look back on with a huge amount of fondness and really cherish that privilege that I had to be part of the first All Black World Cup winning team and it does seem like it was only yesterday, but it is amazing it is a good 20 years on. I’m very, very thankful for being able to part of that whole experience.”
Englishman John Gallagher on the 1987 win
“The good thing about the New Zealand fraternity, you know the spectators and the coaches and all the other players, is that if they see that you are committed to the country, which by 1986 I was, and you’re prepared to give everything, which I was, and if you are good enough, which I was, then they welcome you with open arms,” Gallagher explained.
“You know I’ve been in quite a few dressing rooms that haven’t accepted me, but going into the All Black dressing room, where you think they might just discard you, I was actually welcomed with opened arms and it’s something that I will be extremely grateful for.”
David Campese on the 1991 Australian win
“I said we are going to beat them in the World Cup. It’s the first time I ever said that. You could just sense, where the All Blacks were in that year was where we were in 87. They had all the older players, they weren’t the same … and we proved it,” Campese said.
“I think it’s [Horan try] one of those things that happened, if you don’t try you never know. The interesting thing was that I’ve been asked, ‘did you know he was there?’ I said if I actually passed the ball to no one I would look pretty stupid.”
“People say I laughed too much, I smiled too much. I say I enjoyed it … and that is what rugby was all about.”
Nick Farr-Jones on Campo’s game
“The essence of Campese’s game was that he was never going to die wondering if he could beat the tackle, he was always going to walk the tightrope … and if you walk the tightrope, sometimes you fall off,” Farr-Jones said.