England star James Haskell has revealed the tiny wage he was paid to play Super Rugby in New Zealand following his retirement.
He had a season playing Super Rugby for the Highlanders in 2012-13, where he competed for the No 7 jersey with future Scotland international John Hardie.
“I went to the Highlanders for NZ$20,000 ($10,103) a year. It cost me more to play for them but I went there for the love of the game,” he told The Times in a tribute piece on his career.
“I have been all around the world and enjoyed every day of it. You get one chance at life and I wanted to maximise it.”
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5. Battle of Brive
One of the most infamous matches in European rugby history that put three Brive internationals in hospital and three Pontypridd players in court.
Incidents on and off the pitch at Brive in 1997 during the European Cup tie tarnished the competition’s reputation.
‘The Battle of Brive’ went down in rugby folklore both sides of the Channel, not just for the Heineken Cup punch-up on the field, but the Wild West-style saloon brawl afterwards in Le Bar Toulzac. In the aftermath of the dust-up, Brive captain Philippe Carbonneau, needed hospital treatment for a broken nose, as did Christophe Lamaison, his colleague in the French Test side.
A third international, David Venditti, suffered a bite wound to his hand and was also treated.
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4. Keith Murdoch goes walkabout
Murdoch played just three Tests for the All Blacks, but his name was etched in New Zealand rugby folklore after he became a recluse in the Australian outback following a scandal that ended his career.
The hulking prop, whose death aged 74 was confirmed by New Zealand Rugby in 2018, became the only All Black ever sent home from a tour in disgrace, after a 1972 bar brawl.
Rather than face the wrath of the New Zealand sporting public, Murdoch hopped off his flight in Singapore, caught a plane to Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory and went walkabout for the rest of his life.
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The stink caused by Grannygate, the notorious affair which left Wales embarrassed and, not for the first time, the laughing stock of the rugby world still hasn’t entirely blown away two decade later.
Some reputations were lost or hugely damaged during the fall-out, after the selection of Shane Howarth and Brett Sinkinson for Wales was exposed as a sham. Neither were qualified to play for their adopted nation, it transpired.
It wasn’t just Wales who were in the mire. England-born prop Dave Hilton was found to be ineligible for Scotland, while there were also mutterings about the eligibility of Pacific islanders playing for New Zealand and Australia, Zimbabweans for South Africa and north and west Africans for France.
A complete mess.
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The first Test of the 2005 Lions tour was marred by an injury to Lions captain Brian O’Driscoll in the opening minutes of the game that ended his tour.
The Irishman appeared to be upended at a ruck by New Zealand captain Tana Umaga and hooker Keven Mealamu.
O’Driscoll howled in pain as he hit the turf, suffering a horrendous shoulder injury that ruled him out. Neither referee nor touch judge took any action against the All Blacks players, and after the citing commissioner viewed the video evidence, he decided there had been nothing untoward about the incident, per RTE:
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During the quarter-final of the 2009 Heineken Cup against Leinster, Harlequins wing Tom Williams came off the field with what turned out to be a faked blood injury in order to facilitate a tactical substitution for Nick Evans to re-enter the field having gone off earlier injured.
An investigation by the ERC and the RFU revealed that blood injuries had also been faked by Harlequins to enable tactical substitutions on four previous occasions. These findings resulted in a twelve-month ban for Williams (reduced to 4 months on appeal), a three-year ban for former director of rugby Dean Richards and a two-year ban for physiotherapist Steph Brennan as well as a £260,000 fine for the club.