April 20, 1974
The world of sport changed forever at a rugby match between England and France at Twickenham on this day in rugby history in 1974 when a naked Australian Michael O’Brien jumped over the sideline boards at halftime and streaked to the other side of the pitch.
The event was immortalized in the photo of policeman Bruce Perry holding his helmet over O’Brien’s private parts.
“I had to cover him up somehow, so I used my helmet,” the Bobby told the newspaper. “I remember one thing very clearly. It was a cold day and I can tell you he had nothing to be proud of.”
O’Brien, an accountant, was put up to the challenge after his Australian friends warned and Englishman with them at the game not to bet with O’Brien because he would do anything.
“It was an Englishman who put me up to it,” O’Brien told Australian TV Show ‘Where are they Now’ in 2006. “My Australian mates said to him straight off “Don’t bet with O’Brien because he’ll do it.” He insisted so I said “Well, it’s going to happen.”
Fortunately for O’Brien he was allowed to win the bet after being nabbed to collect his winnings which were immediately forfeited as his fine for the streak.
“I got the full width of the field and I’d just got over the side of the touchline when the wallopers arrived,” O’Brien went on to say. “And what I was saying to them… that’s why my hands were out like that, I was saying: “My friends over there bet me I couldn’t reach that fence.” And they actually walked me over and let me touch it.”
The Mebourne based stock broker admits that the act was stupid and helped start a craze but his main regret is that Ian Bradshaw was at the match that day and in position to snap one famous photograph.
“I do feel very very guilty about that. The stupidity that went on for years and years later – and you just showed some of it – going onto live games, running onto racing tracks, it’s just sheer stupidity. If Ian Bradshaw hadn’t got that photograph it probably would never have happened. There were no TV cameras at the games in those days, so I would have had a clear run, nobody but the 48,000 people in the park would have ever known about it… but Ian had a new camera and he just picked it up and went click click click, got the photo and the rest is history.”
The picture was named LIFE magazine’s ‘Picture of the Year’ while People Magazine called it the ‘Picture of the Decade.’