Several months before the 2007 World Cup in France, Tana Umaga had successfully convinced Wallaby stalwart George Gregan to take up with Toulon.
As excited as he was at the new prospect, in Gregan’s mind, there was something incomplete in the club’s set-up.
“We were missing a South African,” Gregan said in an interview with Midi Olympique, “I knew Victor Matfield was reluctant to join us.”
While most would have picked up a phone, that method proved to be too prosaic for the likes of George Gregan, who rather waited until the heat of battle to pop the question.
While the Springboks and Wallabies were in the midst of a traditionally hard Tri Nations scrap, Gregan seized an opportunity:
“It was a tough game, as always against the Boks. I remember that in the first half, their forwards knocked us over in the game upwind. I can still hear Bakkies Botha chambering Nathan Sharpe. In the second half, the tide suddenly turns in favor of the Wallabies. The Australian pack takes its revenge. After a penetrating school maul, Matfield remains on the ground: "I'm taking him to task." “Now that you're on the ground taking it easy, Victor, let's talk about Toulon. "
Taken aback, the annoyed Matfield responded with: “We’re in the middle of a test match, man!”
“You’re the missing link in our team,” Gregan urged, “Give me your answer on the next key. A wink for yes, a nod for no.
At the next stoppage, Matfield gave Gregan a sly wink.
The two rivals had a ball together during the 2007/08 season in the colours of Toulon.
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