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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
Wellington's fans saw Daniel Carter at his very best; 2 tries and nine successful goals (33points) as the ABs stun the Lions 48-18
Cardiff and Wales
53 internationals for Wales 1967–78
10 internationals for British Isles 1968–74
Gareth Edwards was one of the most widely acclaimed rugby players of all time – a brilliantly versatile halfback and a strong physical competitor who captured the imagination and admiration of players and followers all over the world.
Edwards first came to prominence outside Wales as a teenager on the Cardiff club’s tour of South Africa in 1967, where he played in a number of positions in the backline. Once back in Wales his enormous talents were soon focused on scrumhalf play. He was chosen for his country three months before his 20th birthday and was never dropped until his retirement. Ten years later, with 53 caps, he had set a record for most internationals for Wales, which stood until passed by J.P.R. Williams in 1981. Edwards’s tests were consecutive – both a world record then, and a monumental feat.
In all his internationals, he was in the losing side on no more than 15 occasions. He scored 20 tries in internationals, at the time also a Welsh record, although later equalled by Gerald Davies and later still passed by Ieuan Evans and Gareth Thomas. Edwards’ total of 63 internationals was also, in its time of few tests in any year, the world’s highest for a scrumhalf. He was Wales’s youngest ever international captain (20 years, seven months in the match against Scotland in February 1968).
At the time of his debut for Wales, in the Five Nations match v France in 1967, Edwards was a physical education student at Cardiff Training College. Later, he switched clubs to Cardiff and became a successful businessman. Later still, at the end of his playing days, he was a media commentator and reporter on the game.
A master of the spin-pass, Edwards had all the other attributes of the complete scrumhalf. His kicking was skilful, his running devastating to any of the opposition that could stay near his electric bursts, and his competitiveness was relentless. He dominated many matches simply because of his presence on the field. He was a brilliant opportunist and scorer of tries.
Perhaps the only aspect of his game that did not reach the highest level was as a captain. Many people felt he was inhibited slightly as a leader, with the result that other Welshmen came past him to lead the national XV. He did not resent this, rather it allowed him to return his full concentration to the scrumhalf role. In all, he was captain of his country in 13 tests.
Edwards played superbly in partnership with that other great Welsh personality, Barry John. The two were together as a scrum-outside half combination on 23 occasions, then the world record. Edwards was part of the great era in Welsh rugby that followed almost exactly the dates of his career. He also played superbly for the British Isles in New Zealand in 1971 and in South Africa in 1974. Both those series were won during what were some of British rugby’s greatest days.
He took part in and, indeed, scored the try that is often hailed as one of the greatest ever seen in the game. It was for the Barbarians club against the All Blacks of 1972–73 at Cardiff. The capacity home crowd of 60,000 roared so loudly they distorted forever the television recordings of Edwards diving in at the end of a 90-metre movement.
Edwards possessed a most charming and modest personality, and became in his time one of the most revered characters in Wales – and the rest of the rugby world.
In 1997 he was one of the first players inaugurated into the International Rugby Hall of Fame.
Stories abound about Gareth Edwards’ prowess at the game. One story has it that on the day of an England-Wales game at Twickenham, one Welsh supporter could not get a ticket so he waited forlornly outside the ground hoping at least to soak up some of the atmosphere and to hear the result. Eventually he became frustrated at not knowing what was happening in the game, so he called up to some people who were in the ground and asked them what was happening. They happened to be English, so they called back ungraciously that all the Welsh team except Gareth Edwards had been carried off injured. This disturbed the already sad Welsh supporter, but he remained typically optimistic. When a huge roar erupted from the ground a few minutes later, he again called up to the crowd. ‘What’s happened, what’s happened?' he said, 'Gareth scored, has he?’
Such a story is typical of the admiration and affection that existed for one of the greatest of rugby men.
Who was the first Welshman to captain the British and Irish Lions on tour?
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