Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
10 January 2016
Here is the latest question to test the real rugby experts among us (self-styled or not) You might even call yourself a nerd! But the question has been raised to me in recent days - what is the widest age gap between two players playing in the same team of a full and official rugby test match.
As a Kiwi I recall when Bryan (B.G) Williams played his first test rugby for the All Blacks in South Africa in 1970 there was some talk that the 14 year and four months age difference between he and Colin Meads, (as the oldest and youngest All Black captain when they played together) must have been the 'record' for New Zealand rugby. A glimpse later showed that there was a 13 years and three months gaps when Frank Bunce played with Jonah Lomu. That was impressive too.
But at the international level, the modern world record might still be held by Argentina’s Hugo Porta and Federico Mendez. When those two appeared in the same test v England in 1990, Mendez was 18 years and 3 months old, while Porta was 39 years and 3 months. Their age gap was therefore nearly 21 years.
As Porta made his test debut for Argentina in October 1971 that means as a 21-year-old he was playing test rugby before Mendez was born!
Fact is; this website does not know the answer to this poser; Diego Ormaechea of Uruguary played World Cup rugby until he was 40 years old and three months in 1999 - and in 2015 South Africa's Victor Matfield played until he was 38 years and five months old. There are others who played into their 'senior' years.
But who were their youngest teammates? That is the issue!
Note to StatsNerd; Hugo Porta did not formally leave the Argentine Pumas from then until almost the onset of his own middle years. Even though most record books list his last test match as a 39 year old in 1990, he was invited back in 1999, as a 47 year old, to play in the Argentine Rugby Union’s centenary celebration match against a World XV. Porta played for a quarter of the game – a remarkable testimony to his fitness. At the time some stats men called that game an 'official' test recall. A new question therefore might be; who were the record-breaking youngsters playing alongside him in THAT game!
There is no prize only satisfaction for all this; Please let me know at email@example.com and I will publish on this site your findings.
by Keith Quinn
And there's a many a Kiwi who has rung him on this day in the years since - after he grew to be one of our greatest All Blacks.
Western Province and South Africa
8 internationals for South Africa 1955–58
A hard-nosed loose forward, Dawie Ackermann, described by one South African writer as ‘symmetrically built’, was at his very best as a ﬂanker in the three tests he played against the 1955 British Lions team and in two tests against the All Blacks in 1956. After being part of the Springbok team which surprisingly lost to the French XV in 1958, he was no longer required by the South African selectors.
In his frustration Dawie Ackermann turned to the ﬂedgling sport of rugby league and he is remembered as the captain of South Africa’s ﬁrst (and only) touring league team in 1963. The tour to Australia and New Zealand was not a success (even though the South Africans beat New Zealand) and Ackermann and league did not re-surface in South Africa.
Who captained the British and Irish Lions on tour to New Zealand in 1977?