On this day: Infamous beer-bellied pitch invader Piet van Zyl tackles referee in All Blacks clash with Boks

It's one of the most famous pitch-invading tales in rugby's history.

Sixteen years ago today Springboks fan Piet van Zyl made his way onto the pitch to tackle Irish referee David McHugh during a Tri-Nations Test between the South Africans and All Blacks in Durban.

The pot-bellied pitch invader was incensed by McHugh's decisions during the match and decided he needed to know about it, dragging him to the ground and dislocating the ref’s shoulder in the process.

However, van Zyl was then greeted by AJ Venter and Richie McCaw, who was in just his ninth Test.

The pair, along with a couple more Springboks, dragged van Zyl away from McHugh, but the damage was already done with English touch judge Chris White forced to take over the match.

The All Blacks went on to win the clash 30-23 and van Zyl was given a lifetime ban by the South African Rugby Union from attending any matches they controlled.

He was fined NZ$330 and charged with assault to do grievous bodily harm and trespassing.

McHugh on the other hand made a successful return to the game, officiating for another two years before hanging up his whistle in 2004.


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Wayne Barnes to referee All Blacks v Ireland, Jerome Garces takes charge of clash with England

All Blacks may not be happy with the refereeing appointments for this year's end of year northern hemisphere tour, with Jerome Garces and Wayne Barnes to officiate New Zealand's clashes against Europe's best.

Barnes, 39, has earned the ire of All Blacks fans in the past, famously missing a forward pass against France that led to New Zealand's elimination from the 2007 World Cup in Cardiff.

He will take charge of the All Blacks' clash against world number two Ireland in Dublin on November 18 NZT.

Meanwhile, French referee Garces, 44, who showed Sonny Bill Williams a straight red card in last year's second Test against the British and Irish Lions, will officiate the much anticipated Test between the All Blacks and England at Twickenham on November 11.

The All Blacks' end-of-year tour begins on November 3 against Japan in Tokyo.

Referee Wayne Barnes.
2nd Bledisloe Cup Test of the 2018 Investec Rugby Championship.
New Zealand All Blacks v Australia (Wallabies) at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand on 25 August 2018.
Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz
Rugby referee Wayne Barnes. Source: Photosport


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'We've discussed what we need to change' - Michael Cheika happy with Wallabies coaching staff

Michael Cheika isn't convinced personnel changes to the Wallabies coaching staff are needed in order for the team to climb back up world rugby's pecking order.

Slipping to a historic low of seventh, the Wallabies coach will next week present to the Rugby Australia board his plan to improve the team's performance ahead of next year's World Cup.

Cheika didn't believe sweeping changes to his set-up were required but is looking for greater collaboration from the Super Rugby franchises.

"We've discussed what we need to change internally and I think before we go chopping guys or changing things around you need to understand what we need to change internally to make a difference because maybe what we were doing before hasn't achieved the same outcome," Cheika told Fox Sports' Kick and Chase.

"You need to give the opportunity for changes to sink in and make a difference."

Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle also appeared in a pre-recorded interview and floated the idea of a head selector.

Cheika said he hadn't had any discussions about such an appointment.

"No-one's spoken to me about that ... I will say this though, I'm not just picking numbers out of a hat - I take advice from coaches who've been in the job in the past," he said.

"I'm always taking counsel on those things and I think more often than not we're making the right calls."

Cheika said he was looking for more buy-in from Super Rugby sides, hinting at the frustration of the Brumbies choosing to play three Wallabies just before the June Ireland series when he wanted them rested.

"There's no doubt that the more we can collaborate with Super Rugby with what we can deliver around fitness leading into the international season, that's definitely something we can push for," Cheika said.

"This year we've had moments where we've tried to manage that but we haven't been able to get a handle on it completely.

"But there's a willingness from Super Rugby coaches that I speak with regularly to change and improve so that's the biggest thing."

Cheika also revealed that his famous half-time spray of the players when they were trailing 31-7 against Argentina last weekend didn't include any "technical information".

He said the response was more than just scoring tries, which delivered a 45-34 victory.

"It was a time when it had to get personal ... people have talked about the chat at halftime but you've got go out and do it and they did," Cheika said.

"What they just had to do was understand that this is personal, let's do what we know how to do, do it as best we can, and see what happens."

Castle was happy to see the group respond to Cheika to secure the win but said the question still needed to be asked about the first half performance.

She said that while Cheika had a contract through to the World Cup, the board wanted to see more detail.

"He's the head coach and it's his responsibility to put that plan together and he will be presenting that to the board," she said.

"We want to see what is the plan? What is the plan to recognise that we can see improved performances?"

Psychologist Sara Chatwin has some tips for Michael Cheika, who was left fuming at the weekend.
Michael Cheika Source: Photosport


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Sam Cane's neck operation a success, as All Blacks star prepares to return home

All Blacks flanker Sam Cane has undergone a successful surgery in South Africa, having fractured a bone in his neck in last weekend's win over South Africa.

Cane, 26, came off early in his side's 32-30 win, where it was revealed that he'd suffered the fracture. He's expected to be out for the rest of the 2018 season.

In a post on Instagram, the All Blacks revealed that surgery had gone to plan, and that Cane was in good spirits ahead of his return to New Zealand.

Sam Cane is injured. Investec Rugby Championship, All Blacks vs Australia, Rugby Union Test Match Eden Park, Auckland. 25 August 2018. Copyright Image: Renee McKay / www.photosport.nz
Sam Cane. Source: Photosport

"All Blacks loose forward @samcane7 is up and about after his successful operation in South Africa and wants to pass on his thanks for all the support he has received from everyone in New Zealand and around the world," the All Blacks posted.

"All Blacks Doctor Tony Page says Cane's operation has been a success and he'll be flying home sometime over the next few days. He will spend the next six weeks in a neck brace as part of the first steps to making a full recovery.

"Thank you everyone for your get well messages."

Sam Cane after neck surgery in South Africa
Sam Cane after neck surgery in South Africa Source: Instagram/All Blacks


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