Jonah Lomu

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Jonah Lomu : biography

12 May 1975 –

The match was followed by a victory over South Africa, and then a re-match of the thrilling Bledisloe Cup game, which Australia won by just a single point, 24 to 23. A barn-storming Lomu was stopped short of the line early in the second half in the final match against South Africa. The Springboks eventually won, 46 to 40. The All Blacks finished second on the table, with Australia winning the Tri Nations. Lomu played in one other test that year; against France at Stade de France in November, which the All Blacks won 39 to 26.

Lomu also led the New Zealand Sevens team to victory at the 2001 Sevens World Cup, filling in for Rush, who suffered a broken leg during the competition. In the lead up to the 2001 Tri Nations Series, the All Blacks played Argentina and France at home, Lomu scoring a try in the French match. Despite causing havoc for the Springboks, no tries were scored in the opening match of the Tri Nations, which was won on penalty goals by the All Blacks. Lomu played his 50th test for the All Blacks at the Carisbrook ‘House of Pain’, scoring a try in the second minute of play. The Wallabies spoiled the party however, winning 23 to 15. This was followed by a win over South Africa, and loss to the Wallabies at Stadium Australia.

At the end of the year, the All Blacks played Ireland at Lansdowne Road in Dublin. Lomu was a central figure in the 40 to 29 win, setting up Aaron Mauger for his debut try, and taking an inside pass to blast through for one of his own. The All Blacks end of season tour continued at Murrayfield in Edinburgh, where they defeated Scotland 37 to six, with Lomu contributing one try. In the final match of the tour, the All Blacks played Argentina at the River Plate Stadium. Lomu put the All Blacks in front after Argentina took an early lead, brushing off four defenders to score. In the end, New Zealand won the match by a score of 24 to 20.

In his first test of 2002, he came off the bench in the second half to score a try in a match against Italy. He was again injected into play from the bench in the first of a two test series against Ireland in New Zealand; setting up the All Blacks second try coming on in the last fifteen minutes of play. Lomu was back at his usual starting position for the second test against the Irish, which New Zealand won 40 points to eight. Lomu did not score in the subsequent match against Fiji; though he did however make a trademark run down the wing, setting up Christian Cullen’s third try in the match. Lomu came off the bench in the All Blacks first game of the 2002 Tri Nations Series against South Africa, though he did not play in the rest of the tournament.

He was, however, back in his starting position on the wing for a game against England in November. Lomu ended up scoring a double, though it was not enough to secure a New Zealand victory, with England winning 31 to 28. The subsequent match against France resulted in a draw, the first between the two nations in 96 years. The last match of the end of season tour was against Wales, which the All Blacks won 43 to 17.

Early career

Lomu represented New Zealand in the national under-19 side in 1993, as well as the under-21 side the following year. He first came to international attention at the 1994 Hong Kong Sevens tournament as part of a team including Eric Rush.

At the age of 19 years and 45 days, Lomu became the youngest All Black test player as he debuted on the wing against France in 1994, breaking a record that had been held by Edgar Wrigley since 1905. The match was played at Lancaster Park in Christchurch, and the All Blacks lost 22–8. Lomu’s performance was middling. However, he performed well enough to ensure his selection the following week. The match was the second against France and played at Eden Park in Auckland; France won again, 23–20.

Legacy

Jonah Lomu has lent his name to various video games including Jonah Lomu Rugby (1997) and Rugby Challenge.

1995 World Cup

Despite having just two All Black caps, Lomu was included in the squad for the 1995 World Cup in South Africa. Lomu stunned international rugby audiences (and unsuspecting players) at the 1995 World Cup, when he scored seven tries in five matches, including four in the semi-final against England. In his first ever World Cup match, against Ireland in Johannesburg, he scored two tries in the 43–19 win. In the following match—against Wales—Lomu was replaced during the game, and did not score any tries in the 34–9 victory. He was rested for the final pool match against Japan. In the All Blacks’ quarter final, Lomu scored a try in the 48–30 win over Scotland at Loftus Versfeld. He shocked the 51,000 that packed into Newlands in Cape Town to see the semi-final against England, as he notched up four tries in the 45–29 defeat of the English, including a try in which he ran straight over the top of England fullback Mike Catt. His style of play at times defied description; one New Zealand commentator, Keith Quinn, was famously reduced to gasps as Lomu devastated England’s backline. After the game, Will Carling said: "He is a freak and the sooner he goes away the better". Lomu’s attacking prowess can be attributed in part to pure power; when near the tryline he often ran his 120 kg frame straight into or over any defenders who had the misfortune to get in his way (a move informally known as the ‘Maori sidestep’). However most of his famous tries were ignited by electric pace (he recorded a time of 10.89 seconds in the 100 meters) as he stepped "in-and-out" on his opposites and ran around them, then used his powerful fends on the cover defence.