If ever there was one moment when Wayne “Buck” Shelford embedded his name forever into rugby’s rich history, it was during the infamous “Battle of Nantes” in 1986.

Playing only his second Test for the All Blacks against a physically intimidating French side, Shelford found himself at the bottom of a rather aggressive ruck on 20 minutes.

An errant Les Bleus stud found its way to his groin, where it somehow managed to tear his scrotum, leaving one testicle hanging out.

This alone would leave most men screaming in agony and heading for the nearest hospital. But not Shelford.

He calmly instructed the physio to stitch him up.


The French public were gobsmacked as an over-eager pitchside cameraman filmed the stomach-turning surgery, and even more so when Shelford returned to the field and carried on playing.

“I was knocked out cold, lost a few teeth and had a few stitches down below,” recalls the Saracens coach.

“It’s a game I still can’t remember – I have no memory of it whatsoever.

“I had to watch a video to realise what the game was actually like. I don’t even remember what the score was, I don’t really want to either.”

Just for the record, New Zealand lost 16-3. It was the only time Shelford was on the losing side during his distinguished international career, a result which he appropriately describes as a “faux pas”.

“It was one of the toughest Test matches I have ever played,” he said.