The Lost Masters: Grace and Disgrace in 68

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In common with the less discerning minority of the tens of thousands of their supporters who trekked to Tokyo, they drew a false equation from England beating New Zealand who had defeated South Africa. Led by captain Siya Kolisi, South Africa were playing for the unity of their once divided nation. Cheslin Kolbe scores the second try for the Springboks to add gloss to their win over England. The Springboks were a different style proposition to the All Blacks.


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They were empowered also by a far higher sense of purpose. Rallied by their first black captain, South Africa's most racially integrated team yet were playing not just for their third World Cup but for the unity of their divided, strife torn nation, striving to inspire a belief that anything is possible for all to achieve. Even those from the poorest townships.

This was a lofty ambition which England failed utterly to comprehend in their hour of defeat. When Itoje called this the worst night of his life he had no understanding of Siya Kolisi saying that he grew up dreaming not of lifting the Webb Ellis Trophy but of where his next meal might come from. As for the head coach, Jones set the preening example. The sly digs at his old nemesis Warren Gatland, the smug grins after the semi-final, the false aura of invincibility, all ended in him being out-coached by South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus.

And while we're at it, Mr Jones, where was Danny Cipriani when the critical moment came with England desperately needing to find a stroke of genius? Mario Itoje, who called the loss the worst night of his life, walks off the pitch heartbroken. Eddie Jones set the example for England players and gave them a false aura of invincibility. As for the money factor Eddie, after all, is an Aussie mercenary. There was no patriotic disappointment for him. As England headed for home and a desultory welcome at Heathrow airport Jones made clear his distaste for 'four more years kicking stones down the road.

Probably he will stay on if they pay him enough but they should pay heed, too, when he puts into words the only thing he got right last weekend - this team is finished. Jones said his team were 'finished' after the final and plans to rebuild for the Six Nations. The harsh reality is that this England team has missed its moment and that precious few of even the younger guns will be as eager, intense and fired up almost half a decade hence.

By then expect a free-flowing Franco-Japanese emergence of electrifying rugby at high velocity to have excited, invigorated and evolved the man game, leaving England behind unless they are willing to adapt. All the hype about the Jones boys being bigger, stronger, faster in France is as misplaced as the cheer-leading en route to and in Japan by some quarters of the media.

The Lost Masters: Grace and Disgrace in '68

This was redolent of the jingoism which surrounds England's football teams as they set off for yet another World Cup flop. Sir Clive Woodward, still England's only Rugby World Cup-winning coach, was one of the few to warn against expectations of an easy win over the Springboks, not least in these pages. Although my old friend did not go quite so far as to predict a South African victory.

How could he after England had ended the All Black supremacy? Willie le Roux and Frans Steyn toast to their success with their medals during the ceremony.


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That success might have remained in the forefront of English minds had their rugby as well as their conduct not ultimately let them down. Instead, the final image of England playing in Japan is of Farrell flat out on the grass after missing a tackle on the smallest player on the pitch, looking back in anger and disbelief as little Cheslin Kolbe danced away for the try which deepened defeat into humiliation. Farrell looked flat out on the grass after missing a tackle and watching Kolbe score the final try.

The year-old returns to England empty handed as he and his team-mates land in the UK. The regard in which Farrell is held by some as an exceptional captain remains a mystery. Quite why he called in one of those huddles on the pitch when it was all over is strange. I have no idea what he has to say in those closed circles but given how tongue-tied and monosyllabic he is at interview it his hard to conceive of him as Churchilian. Nor, as far as I am aware, have we heard a peep from him about how he and most of his troops disowned their medals. England players walk past the Webb Ellis trophy and they prepare to receive their medals.

As recollections of every Olympics should have reminded them, while silver is not as good as gold it is better than bronze and certainly preferable to nothing. Not only these players but their game itself will ignore the social media torrent comprising everything from dismay to disgust at their dishonouring of rugby's World Cup and their discourtesy to the Japanese.

Come to think of it, Fast Eddie was right about something else. They have plenty to learn. The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. Then an assassin's bullet took the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Cities burned. The smoke had barely cleared when the Masters began. There was blunt-talking Bob Goalby, a truck driver's son from Illinois and former star football player; loveable Roberto De Vicenzo from Argentina, who charmed the galleries and media all week; and Bert Yancey, a Floridian who'd dropped out of West Point to face his private demons of mental illness.

Just as the competition reached a thrilling crescendo, it all fell apart. The Masters, the best-run tournament in the world, devolved into a heart-wrenching tangle of rules, responsibility, and technicality. It's a story you'll never forget. Jones Golf is not fair. Neither is birth. Jones waited for his company. He sat in a light green cloth-covered chair in a tiny room on the second floor of a big house on Tuxedo Road in Druid Hills, Atlanta's wealthiest neighborhood. Over his pajamas he wore a bathrobe of dark silk, a garment long enough to cover his swollen, useless legs and billowy enough to hide the plastic tube of a catheter and its collection bag.

Across the arms of the chair rested a bean-shaped hospital tray, made of a shiny metal. On the tray someone had placed five cigarettes in holders, a bulky silver lighter, and two cups with straws, one containing water, the other, bourbon. He didn't touch any of it.

The next few hours would relieve the pain and thinking about pain that consumed most of his day. He had a withering disease of the spinal cord no one knew much about. Each day syringomyelia consumed a little more of him, until he couldn't walk, couldn't grasp, couldn't even pee. In his waking rigor mortis, Jones's torso and limbs atrophied and his hands curled into claws that twisted inward toward his forearms. His agony could be masked a bit by codeine or whiskey but it never really left.

He was sixty-six and had been slowly dying for twenty years. He didn't have much time left. It was the first week of May Jones had returned from Augusta two weeks earlier, where he'd attended both the best and the worst Masters ever. The best because of its fantastic finish and the worst because of, well, that's a long story.

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He'd been ill during the week with something like flu, an almost intolerable addition to his usual burden. Influenza or not, the TV thing might have been scotched anyway, since Jones looked like hell and, worse, often drooled when he spoke. All tournament week Jones lay in bed or sat by a curtained window in his house by the tenth tee, swallowing antibiotics and watching the passing parade. Small groups came by to chat, including Herbert Warren Wind, a man with elephant ears and a lyrical pen who wrote golf essays for The New Yorker.

Wind listened, rapt, as Jones talked happily about the superiority of very hard and fast golf surfaces, in particular the Old Course at St. Andrews, and a match he had there with Cyril Tolley in But he couldn't, because Jones couldn't talk very long. Fatigue rolled in like fog and the visits ended.

He would never see most of these friends again. None of them knew but all might have suspected that this would be the last Masters for Bobby Jones. Once he'd been a hero big enough to close down lower Manhattan. After winning the first two legs of the Grand Slam in July , Jones looked up from the rear deck of a black convertible into a snowstorm of ticker tape, his hair parted down the center as if by a laser beam, his manner modest, though not entirely happy, and a look about him much older than his twenty-eight years.

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The motorcade passed beneath the office window of Charles de Clifford Roberts, a broker of stocks and a student of wealth and power. The attentive veteran of World War I and Wall Street had been friends with Jones for several years and had found out what the man of the hour really wanted: privacy in combination with a place to play golf.

Only two years later, Augusta National opened, delivering both. They succeeded with all of it. But God is a comedian playing to an audience that's afraid to laugh.

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Just when the middle-aged Jones should have been enjoying things most, with his three children grown and his fortune secure, that seven-syllable disease invaded his body. Jones did not complain in public or talk much about his illness with his peers or the press. Those who knew him were awed by the courage he showed in the things he didn't say. But now, after twenty years of compounding misery, Jones had had just about enough. I have wasted away to a bare skeleton and keep going only with the aid of three or four devoted people. I have chronic asthmatic bronchitis, a low blood pressure, and for several years have been wearing a permanent catheter because of a slight prostate enlargement.

Any other way out, no matter how quickly it comes, would be better. I am sure you will agree. But he didn't die.

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