Twenty-five greats of the game whose careers spanned three centuries have been inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame. The list include five Springbok legends, namely Naas Botha, Danie Gerber, Hennie Muller, Morné Du Plessis and Joost van der Westhuizen. Players from seven different countries and a wide array of backgrounds were honoured at a special presentation in the Spirit of Rugby lounge at Wembley Stadium ahead of the eagerly-awaited RWC 2015 Pool C match between New Zealand and Argentina. From pioneering 19th century Welsh tactician Gwyn Nichols to Rugby World Cup winners in Australian centre Tim Horan and South African scrum-half Van Der Westhuizen, the latest induction list reads like a ‘who’s who’ of rugby.
Eighteen captains of their country are included, Irishman Fergus Slattery and Mervyn Davies just two of the names that ‘The voice of rugby’ Bill McLaren, the only non-international to feature in the latest round of inductions, once reeled off in his unforgettable BBC commentaries. Twice-capped coaching guru Carwyn James is one of seven Welshmen to be inducted, while South Africa have five representatives, England, Ireland and Scotland three apiece and a pair of Frenchman and Australians make up the 25-strong group. The inductees or family members of those who are deceased all received framed caps from World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset and Chief Executive Brett Gosper.
Lapasset said: ‘The World Rugby Hall of Fame recognises those who have made an indelible mark on our sport through feats on the field of play, displays of great character or through their tireless and inspirational work in driving forward our great game. The latest set of inductions includes some real legends, players who have helped to shape the image of rugby and inspire generations of fans. They are truly some of the biggest names in our sport over the past 100 years or so and all have contributed immensely to the enjoyment we have all felt watching top-level rugby over the decades. Each of these 25 inductees has made a positive impression on the sport that will last the test of time.’
Chris Rea and Pablo Mamone, who form the World Rugby Hall of Fame panel along with Henri Garcia, Nigel Starmer-Smith and secretary Chris Thau, were also in attendance. The full list of inductees into the World Rugby Hall of Fame (in alphabetical order) is:
Phil Bennett (Wales), Naas Botha (South Africa), Gordon Brown (Scotland), Marcel Communeau (France), Gerald Davies (Wales), Mervyn Davies (Wales), Danie Gerber (South Africa), Tim Horan (Australia), Andy Irvine (Scotland), Carwyn James (Wales), Barry John (Wales), Tom Kiernan (Ireland), Gwyn Nicholls (Wales), Basil Maclear (Ireland), Bill McLaren (Scotland), Edgar Mobbs (England), Hennie Muller (South Africa), Morné Du Plessis (South Africa), Ronald Poulton-Palmer (England), Tom Richards (Australia), Jean-Pierre Rives (France), Fergus Slattery (Ireland), Wavell Wakefield (England), Joost Van Der Westhuizen (South Africa) and John Lewis Williams (Wales).