Rugby World Cup Stories from New Zealand

There were some cracking tales told the other week at mine and Neil Fowkes’ Testimonial dinner at Nottinghamshire Cricket Club.

We had a World Cup theme for the evening and our two guys who were at the tournament, James Arlidge (Japan) and Sione Kalamafoni (Tonga) spoke well about their experiences of New Zealand.

I was also grateful to flanker Gary Rees for coming along. He is a true Nottingham Rugby legend who spent decades at the club and won 23 England caps between 1984 and 1991.

He made four of those appearances at the inaugural World Cup in 1987 in New Zealand – the last time it was held in the Land of the Long White Cloud.

One of his recollections from that trip was fascinating in the wake of what the current England team have been accused of getting up to.

After one game and a heavy drinking session that followed, several of the squad went jumping into the sea off of a pier.

Lots of them picked up a rash on their skin from scraping it against some form of coral or sea plant as they went through the water.

Some of them got injured so badly after their high jinx that they couldn’t play in the quarter-final.

England lost 16-3 in a lacklustre performance to Wales in Auckland.

Imagine the fall-out if something like that happened now.

Gary said that, at the time, nobody knew about what had happened and, even if they did, nobody would have cared.

I guess it shows how far the game has come in those 24 years that the current England team couldn’t go out for one drink without it being in the papers.

The game is professional and their profile has increased dramatically.

I want to thank everyone that came along to offer me and Fowkesy their support. We had about 150 guests, including Leicester Tigers’ duo Manu and Freddie Tuilagi. It was much appreciated.

The feel good factor from that night has continued this week as the rehab on my broken shoulder is starting to go really well.

My custard arm is still not far off next to useless but I cannot tell you how good it is to get back into the gym doing things. The comeback is underway.

And with my Movember ‘cat’s tail tache’ setting new standards in hair fashion accessories, these are good times in the Jackson household!


Read more from Dave Jackson about fashions in male grooming and rugby.

Follow his progress through Movember and help fight prostate cancer.

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