Irish, S Africans top Hall of Fame list - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Irish, S Africans top Hall of Fame list

28/10/2009 08:48:48 AM Comments (0)

Ireland and South Africa provided six of the nine rugby union greats inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame on Tuesday at a ceremony at Rugby School.

Sir Anthony O'Reilly, Willie John McBride and former IRB President Dr Syd Millar were the Irish trio while the South African triumvirate were Barry Heatlie (RSA), Benjamin Osler (RSA) and Frederick du Preez.

In a year which saw an epic British and Irish Lions series in South Africa - which the world champions won 2-1 - the first man to captain a Lions side Scotland's William Maclagan, who led the then as they were known British team on a tour of South Africa in 1891, was also among the list.

Indeed the Lions history was the subject of the speech given by Welsh legend Gerald Davies, who was manager of the side this year.

"The Lions reflect what we think of as camaraderie and the sense of fun in togetherness which are major selling points in Rugby. There is no division, no exclusion of one set of supporters from another, no barriers," said Davies.

"The Lions represent the last of the Rugby adventures. Ask any player who has been on a Lions tour, his views are expressed with reverence as a treasured moment. Those who have not been wish that they had, or given another chance will go next time."

O'Reilly holds the record for tries for the Lions having scored 37 on two tours for them, his first aged just 19 where he played in all four tests scoring two tries.

Heatlie is credited with being the inspiration for the South Africans' green jersey - it making its first appearance in the final test against the Lions in 1903, which was also his last appearance for his country.

Osler has been described as the "greatest individual match winner and tactical master that South African rugby has ever produced" - he played 17 consecutive tests for the Springboks and captained them on their Grand Slam tour of the 1931/32 tour of the British Isles.

Members of the public were invited to vote on nominees from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, giving rugby fans around the world an opportunity to recognise their most treasured players.

These votes were then compiled before the IRB Hall of Fame Induction Panel comprising Don Cameron, Gerald Davies, Henri Garcia, Norman Mair, Pablo Mamone and Nigel Starmer-Smith selected the nine legends to be inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame in 2009.

List of rugby union stars inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame on Tuesday:

William Maclagan (SCO), Barry Heatlie (RSA), Benjamin Osler (RSA), Cliff Morgan (WAL), Sir Anthony O'Reilly (IRL), Frederick du Preez (RSA), Dr Syd Millar (IRL), Willie John McBride (IRL), Ian McGeechan (SCO)

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