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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 November 2006, 11:28 GMT
Tongan treble eludes Webbe
By Sean Davies

The cliché of the tough-tackling Pacific islanders is one that has reached almost mythical status in the rugby world.

Glen Webbe in action during the 1987 World Cup
Webbe blames Mazda motors and Mark Ring for his concussion

But few know the painful reality more than former Wales wing Glen Webbe.

The most memorable moment of the Bridgend back's 10-cap career was a three-try performance in Wales' 29-16 win over Tonga in Palmerston North, New Zealand, at the inaugural World Cup in 1987.

Most memorable for everyone - except the hat-trick hero himself, who suffered concussion after a trademark Tongan flying tackle.

Webbe can look back with a smile now, but he has some unusual scapegoats to blame for his hazy recollections - Mazda motors and former three-quarter partner Mark Ring!

"Mazda had put a car up for grabs for the best try of the tournament," recalls Webbe, now aged 44.

"Mark Ring devised a move with something like five switches and 10 missed passes, which should have ended with me going up the middle to score under the sticks.

I've seen the try so many times on video, but it's not a real memory
Glen Webbe
"It was a ridiculous move - it didn't even work on the training field - and let's just say it didn't go according to plan!

"Our captain Richard Moriarty called for the ball to be kicked downfield because the Tongans were flying in from all angles, but Mark decided to call a 'Mazda'.

"Somewhat predictably, I got hit under the chin by a flying tackle from their full-back, Tali Ete'aki, and was out for the count!"

A groggy Webbe was eventually brought to his feet but, with only two substitutions allowed, was not given the option of leaving the field.

"Stuart Evans and Malcolm Dacey had already gone off so if I'd left we'd have been down to 14, and we were already under the cosh," said Webbe.

Mark Ring
Ring says he had to tell Webbe to touch down
The wing was clearly reeling, but he already had two tries to his name and when the ball came his way again instinct took over.

The third try was the best of the lot as he left a string of bemused defenders in his wake on a 90m run, but as Webbe swept in under the posts there was a worrying delay before he touched down for the score.

"Mark [Ring] tells me he had to scream at me and tell me to ground the ball, but I don't believe him," said Webbe. "I've seen the try so many times on video, but it's not a real memory."

Sadly for Webbe, it was his last action in the World Cup as his concussion ruled him out of Wales' run to third position in the tournament.

He also missed out on the Mazda - his third try against Tonga was nominated, but the prize went to John Kirwan for his score in the World Cup-opener against Italy.


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