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.


'He'll take it with both hands' - Crusaders' Samu backs Richie Mo'unga over Beauden Barrett for All Blacks first-five berth

Wallabies and Crusaders flanker Pete Samu is backing Richie Mo'unga ahead of Beauden Barrett and Damian McKenzie to wear the All Blacks' number 10 jersey for the Bledisloe Cup opener in Sydney next week.

After leading the Crusaders to this year's Super Rugby title, Mo'unga easily stands above the pack as New Zealand's in form first-five, however All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has thrown his support firmly behind current World Rugby Player of the Year, Barrett.

Speaking to Rugby.com.au though, recent Wallabies debutant Samu says that his Crusaders teammate warrants selection at the front of the first-five queue.

"He's been playing some outstanding footy and I think it will be deserving [for] him to be starting in that 10 jersey for that first Test," he said.

Assistant coach Ian Foster said while management sees Mo'unga as a first-five, he also has the skills for fullback. Source: 1 NEWS

"It would be also special to run up against him if I get the chance."

Samu also praised Mo'unga's ability to perform under pressure, exemplified by his man of the match performance in the Super Rugby final against the Lions last week.

"I think when it comes to big games he goes up another couple of levels and he's a real good leader as well. I think put him in any situation and he'll take it with both hands.

Mo'unga has been the shining light in another title winning Crusaders season. Source: 1 NEWS

"He's quite unpredictable, he's got some crazy feet and he's got a good pass on him, maybe if we shut down his time and space we might do alright."

The All Blacks' side to take on the Wallabies in Sydney will be named next week.

The All Blacks coach agrees Mo’unga is a special talent, but says Beauden Barrett has experience over him. Source: 1 NEWS


Michael Hooper rejects overseas clubs, signs $6.7m deal with Rugby Australia

Rugby Australia are set to announce Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper has signed a five-year deal that will take him through to the end of 2023.

Rugby Australia have called a press conference for 1pm in Sydney this afternoon to unveil the contract extension, reported by News Corp to be worth close to $6 million.

The new deal will mean the 26-year-old NSW captain will be available to lead Australia at the next two World Cup tournaments, adding to his 82 Tests.

Wallabies' Michael Hooper gestures to the crowd after Australia wins the match 29-15.
Wallabies' Michael Hooper gestures to the crowd after Australia wins the match 29-15. Source: Associated Press