Rugby legends fought it out on the golf course at The Buckinghamshire GC over the weekend in the inaugural Ryder Cup-style Icons of Rugby event, the Southern Hemisphere staging a dramatic singles comeback to celebrate an 18.5-17.5 victory over their Northern Hemisphere rivals.
Team South captain – former US Open champion Michael Campbell - got the perfect response from his players as they trailed by two points heading into the singles. His team claimed 7.5 points from a possible 12, as George Gregan, Christian Cullen, Fourie Du Preez and Grant Fox won the first four games to turn the tide in the South’s favour.
Welshman Tom Shanklin gave Team North, led by Ryder Cup hero Sam Torrance, a lifeline by beating Australian Andrew Mehrtens in game five (3&2), but it was short lived as Matt Burke (beat Jeremy Guscott 3&2), John Smith (Martyn Williams 2up) and Victor Matfield (Stuart Hogg 3&1) put Team South within touching distance of the trophy.
Sir Gareth Edwards claimed his first win of the tournament for the Northern Hemisphere with a 3&2 victory over Sean Fitzpatrick before South Africa’s record try scorer Bryan Habana recorded the vital half-a-point needed for Team South to start celebrating victory.
“I guess the Northern Hemisphere boys are used to the feeling of losing against the Southern boys,” quipped Campbell. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of the Icons of Rugby. It’s my first time being a captain and maybe the North boys won in the bar, but I’m happy to be holding the trophy.’
Both teams won three matches each during the morning greensomes, handing Team North a to be 13-11 advantage going into the afternoon singles with Mike Tindall and Mike Catt making it four wins from four.
Said Torrance: “I take my hat off to Michael and the boys, it was a great day’s play and they played incredible golf this afternoon.”
The Icons of Football will return in 2019 in Spain, followed by the first Icons of Cricket next July at The Buckinghamshire. The Icons of Rugby will return in October 2019 with a Rugby World Cup Special held in Japan.
*For further information visit www.icons-series.com