Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: Hard to prove All Blacks were poisoned

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Most of the All Blacks were ill. Huge forwards were lying around listlessly while intermittent sounds of vomiting further disturbed the atmosphere in their Johannesburg hotel, 24 hours before the 1995 World Cup final.

The coaches were crook too as team doctor Mike Bowen continued his attempts to stem the bug which had nailed the tournament favourites. He suspected foul play but never found any proof.

My search for some personal treatment seemed insignificant as I surveyed the disarray. I felt more helpless about not being able to transmit any story to the Herald in time for Saturday's paper which was already in the letter-boxes back home.

Mandela's bodyguard: All Blacks WERE poisoned

Did the All Blacks suffer food poisoning? I have absolutely no doubt about that.

Was that toxin deliberately and intentionally delivered? I can't be sure but it was a remarkably isolated and accurate incident in a hotel showing full capacity.

After the absorbing extra-time Ellis Park final and subsequent lack of any official inquiry, coach Laurie Mains began turning over any details and evidence about the All Blacks sudden and widespread illness.

He met a London businessman who said the word through the financial markets was all about bookies being involved.

Flanker Paul Henderson told the Herald last year he suspected betting syndicates were behind a scheme to nobble the All Blacks who had been in scintillating form.

In one of his trips around the hotel he ran into an agitated British bookie who claimed his business would go bust if the All Blacks won the final.

"He was talking about it, freaking about it and if anyone was going to have the motivation then it would have to be that chap up there," Henderson recalls.

Wynne Gray on the 1995 World Cup
Were the All Blacks poisoned?
Bookie new twist in poisoning saga at 1995 Cup
Team doctor Mike Bowen on poisoning claims

"He was freaking out and saying all these things. He said he was going to go under, because if the All Blacks won and he had to honour his bets then he was out the back door," Henderson says.

Now South African bodyguard Rory Steyn has added his opinion to those who feel the All Blacks were deliberately nobbled and has fingered the tea, coffee and water in the team dining room as the culprit.

He also sides with Henderson's claim that betting syndicates were behind the scheme.

Watch: 1995 RWC - In their own words

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- NZ Herald

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Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

The latest commentary and analysis from senior rugby writer Wynne Gray. Wynne has been covering the All Blacks for more than 27 years and has attended more than 230 All Blacks tests live for the Herald.

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