If you don’t remember Michael Brial, your life is better off for it and you can go on with your life thinking all is well and good in the world. But if you do…it’s most likely as a result of the Aussie back row’s outrageous assault on Frank Bunce during the 1996 Bledisloe Cup match. The fact that the phrase ‘I’ll Brial you!’ has entered into common parlance says it all really – that his rugby playing career will be singularly remembered for an on-field act putting him proudly in the Rugby Hall of ball sacks.
What was so surprising about his actions that day was the seemingly unprovoked nature of them. It was like Brial suddenly decided that Bunce was the cause of all the world’s ills – so laid into him to teach him a lesson on behalf of all humanity. In Brial’s defence – his wild swings were about as effective as Col Gaddafi’s publicist, with Bunce looking about as troubled as a walrus on a sinking ship.
What is particularly amusing about the whole debacle is seeing the Aussie pleading his innocence to the ref (who subsequently lets him off with a slap on the bum and a stern word of warning!), then running back to his team mates with his thumbs up and grinning like a hyena that’s just stumbled in to a chicken coop.
So where is the Wallaby ‘wild man’ now? It’s been surprisingly tricky to track him down, and though we may be lacking a few things here at Big Daddy HQ (journalistic integrity, acceptable levels of body hygiene?) perseverance in the line of duty is not one of them! It turns out he has put his fighting days behind him and swapped his togs for a suit and tie – moving into the world of corporate finance. He’s obviously doing quite well for himself too – getting out most weekends for a spot of line-fishing. Let’s hope Frank Bunce isn’t thinking of taking any swims anytime soon…