[content_protector password=”fern16″]This week is a sad one for New Zealand and, in particular, New Zealand rugby. As you will have seen and read, Jonah Lomu, one of the greatest All Blacks ever, has died aged just 40.

Tributes for him, his charity work and his rugby skills have poured in from rugby fans, sports fans, and non-sports followers, in many different parts of the world.

And quite rightly so. Jonah Lomu, as many of the news reports point remind us, was a man who changed how rugby is played – his speed, vision, handling skills, athleticism and Rugby World Cup exploits made him, and the game he played, exciting to watch. He was the game’s first superstar.

It is, of course, always upsetting when someone passes away. But, the outpouring of grief seems to be at a surprising level. The Prime Minister, John Key, the Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Little, and even Elton John at his concert in Wellington on Saturday night, have made mention of him. Not only that, but Eden Park is being used to host a farewell ceremony where tens of thousands of people are expected to turn up. There will be live streaming on the internet of a smaller memorial service so people who can’t fit into the church can watch.

Is this all a bit much?

It’s a difficult question to ask, because Jonah Lomu was such an incredible man and athlete. But thousands will be turning out, or logging on, to pay tribute to someone whom they never met – yes, many saw him play on television or at a rugby match – and certainly someone they never knew.

Yes, Jonah Lomu inspired many people through his rugby and through his fight against kidney disease, but countless others – perhaps less well known – have worked tirelessly and without similar recognition for charities and many worthwhile causes.

Many others have been successful in their particular fields – not just sport – such as science, music, politics, charity, mountaineering, and have not had national or even international fame. What is it that rugby can do – and Jonah Lomu can do – that others haven’t been able to?

Yet maybe it’s the measure of the man that, even years after the events that made him famous, the respect he had around the world is so much in evidence this last week.

Is this all a bit much? Possibly. But does he deserved to be recognised? Definitely.
[colored_box color=”green”]This is an opinion-based article designed to provoke debate, discussion and further inquiry amongst your students:  [/colored_box]  [colored_box color=”yellow”]Critical Thinking Challenges:

1. Is it all a bit much?

2. How can one man have such an impact on the rest of the world?

3. What can be done to recognise the quiet – but equally important – achievements of those whose work isn’t always broadcast to the world on the internet or on television (such as scientists or charity workers)?

4. What does ‘the measure of the man’ mean?

[/colored_box] [colored_box color=”green”]Practical Tasks:

1. Research and write a short biography of Jonah Lomu (or another famous person of your choice) that emphasises all the great achievements on and off the field (or in and out of the area that made them famous).

2. Create a list of quotes and tributes about Jonah Lomu. What kinds of things have people been saying about him? Why?

3. After someone famous dies, a short article about them – called an obituary – often appears in a newspaper. An obituary is like a mini biography which emphasises key achievements as well as details about family members and how the person died. There are many obituaries to read about Jonah Lomu in print and online, but many other famous people will have had obituaries written about them. Have a look on the internet: look some up and have a read.

[/colored_box] [colored_box color=”red”]Have Your Say: [socialpoll id=”[socialpoll id=”2311303″] [/colored_box]


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