'A Captain's Cup' - an exclusive eight-part Radio Sport podcast series every Friday in which Louis Herman-Watt and Daniel McHardy interview every Rugby World Cup-winning captain. In episode 2, Nick Farr-Jones discusses the loss that fuelled the Wallabies' World Cup success in 1991.
A Captain's Cup episode 2: Nick Farr-Jones
Nick Farr-Jones will never forget the disappointment of failing to win the Bledisloe Cup in 1991.
The former Wallabies captain led his side to a 21-12 win over the All Blacks in Sydney in the first of two matches in the series, before they fell 6-3 against the Kiwi side in Auckland. A split series was enough for the All Blacks to retain the Cup.
It was that disappointment that fuelled the Wallabies' success at the Rugby World Cup less than three months later.
"We basically got in a bit of a huddle and said 'guys, the disappointment today of not winning the Bledisloe Cup … don't forget what this feels like, because there's every chance we might come up against these guys in four or five weeks," he recalls.
The Wallabies signalled their intentions in the first match of pool play with an impressive 32-19 win over Argentina. That was followed by their toughest test in group play, a 9-3 win over Western Samoa, before following it up with a 38-3 demolition of host nation Wales.
In winning their group, it set the Wallabies on a collision course with the All Blacks, who also topped their pool. The two would meet in the semifinals should they get past Ireland and Canada respectively in the quarter-finals.
The Wallabies snuck past Ireland 19-18, while the All Blacks beat Canada 29-13 to give the Wallabies a shot at Bledisloe Cup revenge.
As Farr-Jones recalls, he felt the All Blacks were vulnerable.
"They had just replaced their captain. Gary Whetton had controversially taken over from Buck [Shelford], but I think also there were some internal rumblings," he says.
"I just suspected for a bunch of reasons the All Blacks we not going to reach their potential."
With a strong defensive effort, and some individual brilliance from outside back David Campese, the Wallabies swept the All Blacks aside, claiming a 16-6 win to book their spot against England in the final.
Farr-Jones says that performance was fuelled but the disappointment and anger of failing to win the Bledisloe Cup earlier in the year. They went on to topple England 12-6 at Twickenham, with Tony Daly scoring the lone try in a game dominated by defence.
"I remember being absolutely rooted," Farr-Jones says of how he felt at the final whistle.
"I'd actually been crook on the Wednesday beforehand – I think it was a combination of all the pressure.
"I knew this was my last roll of the dice playing in a World Cup. It's only as you get further from it that you realise how fortunate you were to be in the right place and the right time to captain a World Cup team; when you realise that the only come around every four years, that you realise you're lucky enough not to die wondering about what could've been.
"Often sportspeople will say when you finally win what you've worked so hard for it feels like a bit of a letdown, and to be honest it did feel a little bit like that at the time. But the further you get from it the more you appreciate how fortunate you were."
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