George Gregon: The one chosen

There are tri-saving tackles and then there are important tri-saving tackles.

George Gregon made his final appearance in the 1994 match against the All Blacks. It was one of the most memorable moments in the history of the Bladeslow Cup competition.

I was watching the match from a bar in Auckland when Gregon hit Jeff Wilson with his tackle. Collective cries of anguish could be heard around New Zealand.

We sure thought Wilson would round the corner for that awkward little halfback with full head hair to shatter our dream of a great win.

Since then, Gregon’s record has been established as a committed, strong and loyal Wallabis player.

For New Zealand rugby fans, skip this video if you don’t want to recapture the moment.

“Still, for more than a decade, George Gregon’s swinging arm has taken the ball out of his hands. All-black-turned-black cap Jeff Wilson can’t avoid that tackle,” he wrote. Sydney Morning Herald.

It was 28 years ago but the pain is still there, including the John Eales penalty and the Stirling Mortlock intercept. I know, they would say go beyond that, but that’s what makes an All Blacks fan.

George Musarruwa Gregan was born in 1973 and moved to Australia from Zambia when he was two years old. She had an Australian father and a Zimbabwean mother and grew up in Canberra. He was educated at St. Edmunds College.

Gregon graduated from Canberra University with a Bachelor of Education (Physical Education). His middle name is Musarurwa, which means ‘chosen person’.

Gregon played for Australia in both the Under-19 and Under-21 grades and represented the Brumbis Super 12 team from 1996-2007.

He was a founding member of the team and was one of the few players to transform from amateur to professional rugby. The Brumbies won the final in 2001 and 2004.

He made his Wallace debut in 1994 against Italy in Brisbane. His tri-saving tackle on Wilson later helped secure the Bladeslow Cup for the Wallabies in 1994.

Gregon was never part of the international team that lost the 1995 Rugby World Cup, but they lost to England in the quarter-finals and left South Africa.

Rugby has become professional after this tournament and you can agree or disagree with this change. The tri-nation series was founded in 1996 between New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, with Argentina joining in 2012.

Is this a good thing too much? I remember the days of the All Blacks-Springbox rivalry when there was a sense of mystery about the old enemy game.

Gregon turned down a lucrative Super League offer in the 90’s because he was dedicated to a union career. Gregan was co-captained by Wallabies in 1997, and in 1999 he helped Wallabies win the Rugby World Cup twice.

George Gregon

(Photo by Dave Rogers / AllSport / Getty Images)

In 2001 he met two conditions to become a Wallabis captain because he was co-captain and had an automatic selection for the team.

Another rugby World Cup heartbreaking moment for the All Blacks in the 2003 tournament was when they lost to Wallaby in the semifinals.

And Gregon once again congratulated himself on ridiculing the infamous line “four more years boy” to Black fans, indicating the fact that the next World Cup was a long way off.

Like many rugby careers, the next few years were very high and low for Gregon until he retired.

He took revenge by beating England 51-15 in the 2003 Rugby World Cup and played his 100th Test at the 2004 Tri-Nations.

Gregon is married to Erica and has three children, their son Max having epilepsy in 2004. The George Gregon Foundation was established in response to his diagnosis.

Wallabis lost all their Tri-Nations games in 2005, but Gregon matched Jason Leonard’s record as the most capped international player in a match against the All Blacks. In 2006, he surpassed John Ills to become the most capped milestone as a Wallabies captain.

In 2007, as his career drew to a close, he played his last Brumbis match with his teammate Stephen Larkham.

George Gregon and Stephen Larkham of Wallabies thanked the fans

(Photo by Cameron Spencer / Getty Images)

He also spent time on the reserve bench as a back-up for Matt Gito for the Wallabies. I’m not sure if Giteau’s move was successful.

Sterling Mortlock was previously captained for the 2007 Rugby World Cup, but in a pool match he equaled Will Carling’s international captaincy record.

His final major move came after playing for France in 2008 when he played for Santori Sangoliath in Japan.

An assistant coaching role at Brumbies and commentary for Fox Sports prolonged his rugby career. A chain of 24 Gigi Espresso stores has also been established as a post-rugby initiative.

Gregon was named a member of the Order of Australia in 2004 and was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2009. He was also inducted into the 2013 World Rugby Hall of Fame.

His rugby record is 139 Test caps from 1994 to 2007 and 129 matches for Brumbis. Gregon was named to the Wallabis Team of the Decade in 2005 but will be considered one of Australia’s all-time greats.

The nickname ‘Gove’ seems very appropriate for this national player. Most halfbacks are small in size but not small on the advice of referees and opposing players.

I can tell from personal experience. ‘Firery’ is often a term associated with halfback as a defense measure for a small build.

Throughout his tenure as Wallaby, George Gregon displayed considerable leadership skills and versatility.

In the research for this I was amazed that he scored the drop goal and that he tried. The flip passes on his back were also a signature move.

Was he a sporting player? I don’t remember any big Richard Low type moment in my memory! It hurts to say “four more years” but since then the pain has subsided.

George Musarruwa Gregan is a great Walabi and one of my favorite Australian players.

Springboks prop Frans Malherbe joined Roar rugby expert Brett McKay and Harry Jones to talk about the story of his unusual rugby origins, the United Rugby Championship coming out of Super Rugby and what surprised him at the call of an expert scrum referee from Rossi Erasmus.

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