Nominees - 21st century
Class of 2008
Candidates for induction to the IRB Hall of Fame
21.1 Philippe Sella (France) One of the greatest centres of all time, he played for Agen and France during the amateur era. He finished his club career as a professional player with the London based Saracens RFC. He was the first player to win 100 caps and played in three World Cups in 1987 (runners-up), 1991 and 1995 (third place). He was born on February 14, 1962 in Clairac, where he commenced playing, before he joined his lifetime club Agen. He made his international debut on the wing against Romania in 1982 and scored a try in each of the four Five Nations Championship games of 1984. Now, he runs his own hospitality business.
21.2 Jonah Tali Lomu MNZM (New Zealand) Universally regarded as the first true global superstar of rugby union, he was born on May 12, 1975 in Tonga. He won 63 caps in 73 All Black games from 1994-2002. He was both the tallest and heaviest back in All Black history and could run 100 metres in 10.89 seconds. At the age of 19 years and 45 days, he became the youngest All Black cap. In the 1995 World Cup he scored four tries in the semi-final against England, but was then in the team that lost the final to South Africa. He played in RWC 1999 when he scored eight tries in addition to the seven scored in 1995. He was in the winning New Zealand Sevens team at the 1998 Commonwealth Games and 2001 Rugby World Cup Sevens. However, he was diagnosed as having a rare and serious kidney disorder and in 2004 he underwent a kidney transplant. Still keen to play he joined North Harbour in 2005, but injury intervened and he signed for Cardiff Blues the same year. He made his first appearance in a competitive match since his transplant on December 10, but was to manage only one try for the Welsh region before breaking his ankle. He retired in 2007, the year he was appointed as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.
21.3 Martin Osborne Johnson CBE (England) Born on March 9, 1970 in Solihull. From 1989 he played two seasons for King Country and was selected for the New Zealand Under 21 side. He played in the 1995 Grand Slam winning England side and was a replacement on the 1993 Lions tour of New Zealand. He skippered the Lions in a 1997 series win in South Africa and led England from 1999 and again captained the Lions to Australia in 2001, becoming the only man to captain them twice. He led England to the 2003 Grand Slam season, followed by a victory in the 2003 Rugby World Cup final over Australia. He retired from international rugby in January 2004 and from club rugby in 2005, having skippered Leicester Tigers to four Zurich Premiership titles and two Heineken Cups. He was awarded the CBE in the 2004 New Year Honours. His testimonial match at Twickenham in 2005 saw all proceeds go to children's and cancer charities. He won 84 caps (1984-96) for England and played in eight Lions Tests.
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21.4 Vernon Pugh (Wales) (1945-2003) Born into a Welsh mining family, he was educated at Amman Valley GS, Aberyswyth University and Downing College, Cambridge University, before qualifying as a barrister. He was also a Crown Court recorder and became a QC, one of the leading exerts in property law in the country. The former Amman United and Cardiff HSOB centre and fly half coached Cardiff HSOB ‘Quins' and the Welsh Universities and was elected the Welsh Rugby Union Chairman in 1993. He was instrumental in bringing Italy in to create the Six Nations Championship, helped set up the Heineken Cup and backed the IRB World Rugby Sevens series. He also chaired the Five Nations and Home Unions committees and became the first IRB independent Chairman in 1996. A person of great foresight and determination he will be best remembered as the man who brought rugby union into the professional age.
21.5 Jake White (South Africa) Born on December 13, 1963 in Johannesburg as Jacob Westerduin. He became South Africa's longest-serving and most successful coach of the modern era. A schoolboy hooker, he began coaching at Parktown Boys' High from 1982 till 1985. Later he coached South African side to victory at the first Under 21 World Championship in 2002. His involvement at every age-group of South African rugby gave him a unique insight into the game and he became national coach in 2004. Under his guidance the Springboks began to slowly win back their respectability in world rugby. White was voted the IRB International Coach of the Year in 2005, the first time that the Springboks had managed to beat the Wallabies three times in a year. With him at the helm, South Africa won the 2007 World Cup and claimed the No 1 position for the first time since the IRB World Rankings were officially introduced in late 2003.
* denotes candidate nominated by irb.com web user