Jonah – A Tribute
Late last night the news began to filter through that All Black Legend Jonah Lomu had passed away at the age of 40. He will be remembered for his performances in an All Blacks shirt that saw him make his World Cup debut against Ireland in South Africa in 95 scoring two tries and announcing himself on the International stage. Later in that same tournament Jonah ran rough shod over England and scored 4 tries on the way to a 45-29 win for New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final.
He went to his last World Cup in 1999 and was again part of the New Zealand team that made another Semi Final that was played in Twickenham against France, this was another memorable game that saw New Zealand go in as favourites but France had not read the script on the day and fought back to send New Zealand backing from another World Cup. He played in two World Cup’s in 1995 and 1999 and scored 15 tries over the two competitions.
He and Bryan Habana are now level on 15 tries each with Drew Mitchell in second with 14 tries another ex All Black team mate Doug Howlett is 3rd with 13 tries and Chris Latham in 4th with 12 tries. He was of course the first real global superstar in Rugby Union , mention Jonah Lomu and everybody knew who you were speaking about , like Usain Bolt or Lional Messi.
He was 19 went he earned his first cap , he was 18 stone , 6 foot 5 and could do the 100 metres in in 10 seconds. He was a real problem for defences who now had to deal with a player in the back line that was like a forward in most teams. He has been a role model for a new generation of rugby players in New Zealand and abroad. He was capped 63 times and scored 37 tries in that time.
Jonah Lomu will be missed by not just the global rugby community and his family and friends but he will also be missed by organ donation awareness campaigns because he was a role model for organ donation and also dialysis. Since his body rejected his transplant kidney in2011 he has been on dialysis to help keep himself alive since then.
Earlier this year he revisited South Africa to see some of the men he faced in 95 and also visit his old friend Joost Van Der Westheizen who has been battling Motor Neurone Disease. This documentary showed the caring sensitive side to Jonah. He is fondly remembered in South Africa 20 years after the tournament.
Today Rugby lost a true gentleman and a real legend of the sport, he will be sadly missed by family , friends , supporters , team mates and the wider rugby public. Thanks for all the wonderful moments Jonah , Rest In Peace…
Cian Mc Gibney