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
Epic early words in the game uttered by Springbok captain Phillip Nel to the referee at Eden Park as South Africa win the test series by thrashing NZ by 5 tries to 0 (17-6).
Universitaire de France and France
1 international for France 1910
This player is another of rugby’s unusual internationals from early in the twentieth century.
Joe Anduran, an art dealer, was in his shop in Paris one day when a taxi pulled up outside and several ofﬁcials of the French Rugby Federation climbed out. Apparently they had just seen the French team depart from the railway station as they headed off to play Wales in Swansea on New Year’s Day, 1910. But only 14 Frenchmen had gone on the train; the 15th was held up in Bordeaux while doing his military service.
So the ofﬁcials were sent on an urgent errand around Paris to ﬁnd another forward for the game to be played next day. Their search eventually took them to Joe Anduran’s art shop. Anduran was a useful club player in Paris but nothing more, and at ﬁrst he thought it was a joke when the strangers asked him if he wanted to play for France the next day. He was persuaded to leave immediately, but he soon found his ﬁrst obstacle in making the trip to Swansea was not so much the booking on the cross-channel ferry, but his wife!
Madame Anduran, it seems, did not share her husband’s pride in being selected to play for France – she had made arrangements for Joe to do some family visiting with her the next day. However, soon Joe Anduran was on the train for Swansea, where the next day he ran on to St Helen’s ﬁeld for his debut for France.
Wales won the game by the handsome margin of 49 points to 14. Not surprisingly, Joe Anduran was one of those who was axed by the French selectors in their reshufﬂe of the badly beaten team and he was never seen again in the French colours.A good story for the history books though!
Which nation came third in the 1987 Rugby World Cup played in New Zealand?