RWC #40: New Zealand blame food poisoning on waitress ‘Suzie’

The All Blacks squad were struck down by illness days before 1995 World Cup final

The 1995 World Cup final provided one of the most iconic moments of all time, not just within sport and certainly not just within rugby, as Nelson Mandela handed the Webb Ellis Cup to Francois Pienaar after South Africa had won the tournament in their own backyard.

However, not all of the Springboks 15-12 extra time win over New Zealand at Ellis Park was a sporting romance destined to light up highlight reels and film screens.

For while Mandela was donning the green jersey and uniting the Rainbow Nation the All Blacks were throwing up on the touchline as the squad battled with a severe bout of food poisoning.

48 hours before the final the New Zealand camp had been struck with illness to the extent that winger Eric Rush said if the game had been player a day earlier they wouldn't have been able to field a full team.


Cue the conspiracy theories.

Coach Laurie Mains blamed the squad's illness on a mysterious waitress called Suzie, who he claimed had poisoned the team's water in the run-up to the game.

Luckily for Rush and a handful of others who were fed up with Mains’ dietary regime of terror and desperate for carbs, they avoided the food poisoning having snuck off to the Pizza Hut down the road while their team mates were dropping like flies.

The day after the final the illness had passed but by then the damage had been done. Like Tottenham Hotspur and their dodgy lasagnes 11 years later, New Zealand never got to the bottom of what or who was responsible.

Patrick Madden

Patrick Madden

Patrick Madden is a former sports journalist with The Irish Times