Repeat: Off The Ball

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Repeat: Off The Ball


George Gregan's miracle tackle launched an incredible career

George Gregan is the most capped Australian rugby player in history, but on Wednesday his Rugby W...

George Gregan is the most capped Australian rugby player in history, but on Wednesday his Rugby World Cup winners' medal will be eclipsed as he speaks to Wednesday Night Rugby on Off  The Ball.

Accolades are plentiful for the former Brumbies skipper, and it didn't take long for Gregan to truly announce himself on the international stage.

The diminutive scrum-half made his Wallabies debut in 1994 against Italy, but on only his fourth cap Gregan went into Bledisloe Cup folklore forever with a try-saving tackle on Jeff Wilson in Sydney.

In 1994 a single Bledisloe Cup Test was played at the Sydney Football Stadium in front of a packed crowd of 41,917. A crowd, Australian coach Bob Dwyer knew would help his side.

Tries from Jason Little and Phil Kearns and four kicks from fly-half David Knox (subsequently skills coach at Leinster) had put Australia in control of the game with a four-point lead on the hour mark.

Gregan recalls the game: "As quickly as we were ahead, they roped us back, and it went down to the wire.

"In the second half they just never give up those All-Blacks. They just keep coming at you.

"They had people like Fitzpatrick, Zinzan Brooke, a young Jeff Wilson, they had some very good players out there.

"I just remember it being fast and furious."

Certain Try

The Kiwis despite being behind were clearly in the ascendancy. With just four minutes left on the clock, the Wallabies' lead looked certain to be eroded.

Wilson got the ball on the right-wing and brushed past four tired Australian tackle attempts inside the 22.

It was a certain try. As Wilson dived, so did Gregan, covering across from Wilson's left. Gregan got his arm under the winger to dislodge the ball, somehow preserving Australia's lead.

There was no TMO, it all happened so fast it was unclear immediately whether or not the All-Blacks had scored. Wilson's face told the story, he was more shocked than anyone and couldn't feign a celebration.

"If Australia win the game, that will go down as one of the greatest tackles in International rugby history" said the commentator, still focussed on Gregan's tackle as Knox kicked the ball clear from the resulting scrum.

Sometimes careers don't blossom from such blistering starts but Gregan became a true Australian rugby great.

1994 was the first of half a dozen Bledisloe Cups, there were two Tri-Nations Championships, two Super Rugby titles with the Brumbies and of course that 1999 Rugby World Cup triumph.

George Gregan is a truly worthy first inductee to the Off The Ball Keith Wood Rugby Hall of Fame.

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1999 Rugby World Cup Australia Rugby Brumbies George Gregan Keith Wood Wallabies