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 firstname.lastname@example.org and I will publish on this site your findings.
by Keith Quinn
And on a damp Friday the ABs passed 50 points in a test for the first time; they beat Italy 70-6 with John Kirwan running 75 metres to score, untouched.
The only trophy for competition between two of the Five Nation teams, the Calcutta Cup is played for between England and Scotland.
The trophy originated in India where the Calcutta Football Club, started by some former pupils of Rugby School in England, found itself facing recession after only four years of existence. Rugby was not suited for the summer-like conditions of India.
The club had only modest resources, but as a closing-down gesture, rather than spend their remaining monies on a dinner or a ball, the members withdrew their remaining rupees from the bank and had them melted down. The silver was worked by the finest of Indian workmanship and shaped into a handsome trophy with three distinctive handles shaped like cobras and an elephant mounted on its lid.
The Calcutta Cup was presented to the Rugby Football Union in London in 1878 for competition between England and Scotland. Since then (with the exception of the war years) it has been a much-prized trophy in the annual Five (and now Six) Nations match.
There is an anomaly in the recording of annual results on the base of the cup. It was first played for in 1879 yet the results of England v Scotland matches from 1871 to 1878 are etched into the plinth of the trophy, years before the trophy came into being!
The original Calcutta Cup is now seldom seen in public. Whether the annual game is held at Twickenham or at Murrayfield the original is stored, for security reasons, in a safe vault. In its histroy the Cup has often been the subject of mistreatment by the players of the day. It is often a full-size replica of the cup which is kept for display at both grounds.
(With thanks to John Mcl. Davidson – Honorary Historian Scottish Rugby Union)
From 1987 to 2011 inclusive; How many men have refereed the seven Rugby World Cup finals?