Snack Media is spending the run-up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup taking you through the tournament, the teams and even the terms of one of the world’s most popular sports. Our fourteenth blog looks at New Zealand’s Jonah Lomu.
No player has had a greater impact on the Rugby World Cup, or maybe rugby’s history, than the great All Black Jonah Lomu.
The towering winger burst onto the scene in the 1995 World Cup as a 20-year-old, scoring seven tries in five games, including four against England in the semi-final. Such was his presence at the tournament that South Africa’s game plan was built upon shutting him down in the final. The Springboks managed to do that and came away with the victory, but a star had been born in world rugby.
The game became professional just after this World Cup, and it needed a global superstar to carry it forward, and Lomu was that man. There was arguably no other player that was more pivotal in making the transition to professionalism a success.
Lomu scored eight tries in the 1999 World Cup, a record number in one tournament (tied with Julian Savea in 2015), as New Zealand were shocked once again by France in the semi-final, a game where the winger scored twice.
Standing at 6″5′, weighing just under 19 stone and able to run the 100m in under 11 seconds, Lomu will forever be remembered as one of the greatest phenoms the game has seen, scoring 37 tries in 63 games.
Unfortunately, his career was hampered and cut short by an ongoing kidney disorder, with his All Blacks career ending in 2002. Despite this, he still holds the record for the most tries scored in the World Cup with 15 in only two campaigns (tied with South Africa’s Bryan Habana, who achieved the feat in three World Cups).
Only weeks after the All Blacks secured their third World Cup in 2015, Lomu passed away at the age of 40 from a heart attack linked with his kidney disease. He has left behind one of the game’s greatest legacies and is undeniably in the pantheon of rugby legends.
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