Terrible misfortune for Wallaby great Lynagh
Former international cricket umpire Dickie Bird, with Australian Rugby Union player Michael Lynagh. AP Photo/Stefan Rousseau
There are fears for the sight of Michael Lynagh’s left eye after the former Wallaby skipper suffered a stroke in Brisbane early this week. He’s in a Brisbane hospital, showing all the same fighting qualities he showed as one of our greatest Wallabies.
The 48 year-old had flown from his London base to attend a reunion of former St Josephs College students at Gregory Terrace when he complained of dizziness.
Lynagh made his name at the College as a member of the first XV from 1979 to 1981, captaining the side in his final year.
The College won the GPS premiership in all three years and has produced Wallabies of the calibre of Lynagh, another former Wallaby skipper, Tony Shaw, Mark Chisholm, David Croft, Digby Ioane, and Ben Lucas.
The next year Lynagh was in the Queensland side until 1995, playing 100 games and accumulating 1166 points.
He broke into the Wallaby ranks in 1984, playing outside mercurial Mark Ella, and the combination was instrumental in claiming Australia’s only Grand Slam by beating England 19-3, Ireland 16-9, Wales 28-9, and Scotland 37-12.
Ella scored an unmatched try in every game, while Lynagh contributed 44 points, mainly through his accurate goal-kicking in a golden era of Australian rugby.
When Ella shocked the rugby world by retiring at only 25 after the tour and at the height of his stellar career, Lynagh donned the 10 jersey with distinction.
During his 72 Tests, he had Nick Farr-Jones as his half-back for most of his career, and George Gregan at the end of it.
But Lynagh was seen at his most effective best when co-Queenslanders Tim Horan and Jason Little filled the centre slots, with David Campese on the wing. A dominating quartet.
One of the most memorable Wallaby tries I’ve seen was the RWC quarter-final against Ireland at Lansdowne Road in 1991.
Campese had broken to the right in a typical slashing burst and when cornered he heard the trailing Lynagh’s call for the ball, and with an over-the-shoulder pass, Lynagh scored in the corner in the 77th minute to win 19-18.
Having dodged an Irish bullet, the Wallabies beat the All Blacks 16-6 in the semis, and went on to win the final 12-6 against England at Twickenham, no doubt spurred on by coach Bobby Dwyer’s frantic call to Lynagh, who was pottering around inside his own quarter : “Kick it to the f****ing shithouse”, right in front of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in the Royal Box.
True to form, the Queen didn’t show any reaction, but she obviously heard it.
Patrons on the far side of the ground heard Dwyer clearly. It was one of the highlights of an absorbing final.
And the RWC win was a highlight of Michael Lynagh’s career that included regaining the Bledisloe Cup in 1986, 1992, and 1994, before hanging up his international boots with a then world record 911 Test points after the unsuccessful 1995 RWC campaign in South Africa.
All those memories and a whole lot more are flooding back as sports-lovers around the nation join forces wishing a mighty bloke a speedy and full recovery.
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