Four legends of the game have been inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame presented by Tudor at a special ceremony in Rugby, England.
Ronan O’Gara, Pierre Verillepreux, Sir Bryan Williams and Liza Burgess received their honours at the state-of-the-art physical home of the Hall of Fame, which celebrates the inspirational journey of the game from its humble origins to its global present, played by millions of men, women and children.
Former Australia international Stephen Larkham, who was also named as part of the 2018 Hall of Fame honour roll, was inducted last month at a special ceremony held in Sydney on the eve of Australia’s Bledisloe Cup opener with New Zealand, due to his involvement in the Rugby Championship.
Between them the five Hall of Fame inductees have made an incredible 395 international appearances and appeared in 10 Rugby World Cups.
The Hall of Fame recognises those who have made an outstanding contribution to the game of rugby throughout their careers, while also demonstrating rugby’s character-building values of integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline and respect.
World Rugby Vice-Chairman Agustin Pichot who attended the induction ceremony said: “Being inducted to the World Rugby Hall of Fame is a very special moment in any players career and all of today’s inductees should be very proud of this achievement.
“Rugby is a sport with special values of which today’s inductees have embodied throughout their careers, both on and off the pitch. On behalf of World Rugby and the rugby family, thank you for your enormous contributions to the sport.”
Former Wales international Burgess said: ‘It is a huge honour and privilege to be inducted into the Rugby Hall of Fame. I feel incredibly humbled and proud and would like thank everyone throughout my career who has contributed to this’.
Former Ireland international O’Gara said: “It’s hugely humbling to be inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame. To end up here today, it’s a great day for me and my family, but also you think of your primary school, secondary school, Munster, Ireland, British and Irish Lions, Racing, Crusaders, a lot of people have helped me get here. I’m smart enough to realise I play a team sport and it’s an awesome pack of forwards that made me look good, so I will be thinking about those boys today and especially one or two guys who aren’t still with us.”
Williams, who was knighted for his services to rugby earlier this year commented: “It is a great honour to be inducted to the World Rugby Hall of Fame. I remember my first game in 1961 was a curtain raiser before an All Blacks game, they were all my heroes and they inspired me. Nine years later I was playing my first test for them. I loved my time in rugby and I’m lucky to say that rugby has loved me back.”
France’s Villepreux said: “Today is a big honour for me. This is for all the players I played together with, I am here because of them. I am involved today with training youth and I always try to transmit to them to play rugby the way they want to play, with will and passion. Coaching is about the ability to transmit your passion for the game and the style of rugby you love.”
The five latest inductees bring the total in the Hall of Fame to 142 since it began in 2006.