To those of us that have played the wonderful game and still immerse ourselves in it, today is a very sad one indeed.
Jonah Tali Lomu MNZM, was born in Auckland New Zealand of Tongan descent.
He won sixty-three caps playing for his country, first wearing the famous All Black jersey in 1994. He became probably the first true global superstar of rugby union and had a massive effect on how the game was played. Lomu played the game in a tough, uncompromising, yet clean way; off the field of play he was noted for being quiet, polite and respectful to all.
His impact on the 1995 Rugby World Cup was almost beyond belief. He was just short of his twentieth birthday, 6′ 5″ tall and weighing just over 18st, he could run 100 metres in 10.2 seconds! Men of his size normally played as second row forwards, not fancy wingers! I remember him absolutely destroying a reasonably good England team in the Semi-Final at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town. He scored four tries as New Zealand went on to beat England 45-29. The first try was sublime; Lomu caught the ball behind him, out-stepped two defenders, stumbled slightly then literally ran straight over the top of English Full-Back Mike Catt to score! As a Welsh supporter did I love that!
Jonah was diagnosed with a rare and savage form of kidney disorder which saw him take time out from the game that he loved. He was back for the 1999 World Cup and scored eight tries in the competition. He was one of the Rugby World Cup all-time top try scorers with 15 tries, a record he shares with Bryan Habana of South Africa—although he never won a World Cup.
Jonah continued to play Rugby despite having to undergo dialysis treatment. In July 2004 he received a kidney transplant. A year he later signed for Welsh Regional Team Cardiff and enjoyed a reasonably successful season.
He retired from Rugby in 2007 and amongst other work became a popular television pundit. He worked on this year’s Rugby World Cup in England.
He was a member of Champions for Peace, a group of 54 famous elite athletes committed to working for peace in the World through sport.
Jonah was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame in October 2007.
Jonah Lomu died unexpectedly this morning in Auckland, New Zealand aged only 40. He leaves behind his wife Nadine and two sons aged just five and six.
The World of Rugby Union has lost one of it’s all time greats, New Zealand one of her most famous sons and the World has lost one of its nicest people.
Thank you for the memories my All Black friend.
RIP Jonah Lomu 1975-2015