Former Waratahs fullback Duncan McRae has revealed the back story to his infamous attack on British and Irish Lions star Ronan O’Gara 20 years ago.
McRae sparked an international furore in 2001 when he unleashed a flurry of 11 punches on a prone O’Gara during a tour match at the Sydney Football Stadium.
The five-eighth’s horrific injuries led to widespread condemnation of league convert McRae, who received a seven week ban for his actions.
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McRae explained his side of the story during a lively chat with former Randwick teammate Morgan Turinui and Sean Maloney on the latest edition of Between Two Posts on Stan Sport.
“I don’t know what I was doing near a ruck, firstly, because I was never there, but he (O’Gara) sort of came to elbow me and I’ve just caught his elbow straight in my face,” McRae recalled.
“I thought ‘f… you,’ you know, and the same thing happened 15 minutes later. I’ve got up and seen him at the last second – elbows me straight in the face.
“I’ve just caught him and I’ve swung him under and he sort of ended up on the ground right under me. I just said to him, ‘what the f…. are you going to do, champ?’ And he’s just kicked me straight in the nuts so I’ve just pinned him and the rest is history.”
O’Gara, Ireland’s all-time leading Test point scorer, later wrote about the incident in his autobiography.
“Two lacerations under my left eye needed eight stitches but the pain of that was nothing compared to the humiliation. Why didn’t I try to defend myself?
“In the dressing room I was f…… raging. Raging with myself. Raging with McRae. When the game was over I wanted to go into their dressing room and have a cut off him.”
The two men would cross paths again after McRae signed with English club Gloucester in 2003.
McRae said he did not realise Gloucester were in the same European pool as O’Gara’s club Munster until after he put pen to paper.
“My head’s like ‘how’s your f……. luck!’ And over there there’s only four teams in your pool and you play each other home and away,” McRae said.
“I thought ‘I’ve got to go to the home town of this bloke and play.’
“So that was my first incident and just before we flew over to play in his home town, one of the boys brought in a paper.
“I don’t know if it was The Times or whatever the rugby paper was, and it was the five worst incidents that ever happened on a sporting field, ever.
“I can’t remember No.5 but No.4 was Eric Cantona karate kicking the guy in the thing.
“No.3 was Mike Tyson biting the ear off. I was No.2! No.1 was Monica Seles getting stabbed on the court. I said ‘gee, they can hold a grudge these people’!”