Five legends of the game have been inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame at a special ceremony held in Rugby, England, on Friday.
An Englishman, an American, a Canadian, a Frenchman and an Argentinian were honoured at the ceremony, which was also attended by a host of other rugby luminaries at the Hall of Fame’s state-of-the-art physical home in the town that gave the game its name.
The full list of new inductees (with induction number and country) is: Felipe Contepomi (133, Argentina), Al Charron (134, Canada), Rob Andrew (135, England), Fabien Pelous (136, France) and Phaidra Knight (137, USA).
Confirmation of the class of 2017, as chosen by the World Rugby Hall of Fame panel of experts, takes the grand total of inductees to 137 with each celebrated and profiled within a physical experience in the birthplace of the game that is fully interactive, immersive and delivered in multiple languages.
This year’s induction ceremony coincided with the start of the Rugby World Cup 2019 trophy tour, which kicked off in Rugby town. The tour will take the famous Webb Ellis Cup to no fewer than 18 countries between now and the start of RWC 2019.
Supported by Rugby World Cup’s worldwide partners, the tour will visit a mixture of established and developing rugby nations in the build-up to Japan 2019 in line with World Rugby’s strategic mission to grow and inspire the global rugby family. Each visit will typically last between three and five days and, in Asia, the tour will support the dedicated Impact Beyond 2019 legacy programme, a roadmap to attract and retain one million new participants within the world’s most populous region, which is home to 60 per cent of the world’s youth.
World Rugby Chairman and Hall of Famer Bill Beaumont, who was in attendance at the induction ceremony, said: “This is another special day for the World Rugby Hall of Fame as we induct five more greats of the game, bringing the total number of inductees to 137. The latest set of inductions includes some real legends, players who have helped to shape the image of rugby and inspire generations of fans. Each of them has contributed immensely to the enjoyment we have all felt watching top-level rugby over the decades.
“Each one of these players is a worthy addition to the Hall of Fame. In their own way, they have all been instrumental in carrying the game forward in their own country and on the international stage. Between them they amassed 392 international caps, scored nearly 1,200 points (although Felipe and Rob kicked the majority of those!) and they have 18 Rugby World Cup appearances under their belts.
"While the Hall of Fame has been in existence for many years, it was just 12 months ago that we opened a permanent home for it in the town that gave our game its name, Rugby. The physical Hall of Fame is proving to be a wonderful focal point for the game and is attracting fans from all over the world to relive the great exploits of rugby's most prominent and talented individuals.”
Cllr Michael Stokes, Leader of Rugby Borough Council, said: “On behalf of everyone here at the birthplace of the game, I would like to offer my congratulations to these five legends on their induction.
“The World Rugby Hall of Fame tells the story of the greatest moments in the history of the sport in a state-of-the-art display located just a few yards from where it all began here in Rugby. I look forward to seeing some iconic moments from the careers of these five new Hall of Famers added to the displays.”