With our Forwards Packs complete, my attention turns to the Backs in the Royall Lyme Rugby World Cup XV. The scrum half is the link between the Forwards and Backs, as a fulcrum for distribution the No 9 must be alert to opportunities at all times and be a great communicator. My choice for this pivotal position was known for his quick tongue, sharp mind and is the second highest capped player in the sport. Step forward Wallabies’ legend George Gregan.
— Wallabies (@Wallabies) April 19, 2015
The Zambian born Gregan made his first outing for Australia against Italy in 1994 but it was his try-saving tackle against New Zealand later that year in the Bledisloe Cup victory for Australia that really announced his arrival on the big stage.
Gregan’s quality and consistency as a player made him a permanent fixture for both his club side ACT Brumbies and for the Australian team throughout his international career. ESPN highlight his reputation as a player with ‘back chat and bravado’ but he proved time and again he had the skills to back it up. His drive and determination was rewarded with honours at club level winning four national titles in three countries, and with Australia he won two Tri-Nations, six Bledisloe Cups and victory in the 1999 Rugby World Cup.
Talking to Sky Sports in 2014 about what it takes to win a RWC, Gregan said
“A World Cup is a different tournament to anything else that is played, before and after it. You come down to those few weeks and have to make sure you’re playing well, then at the back of the tournament you probably need two really strong performances to just get the job done.
“That’s the challenge of a World Cup, it always comes down to the teams that can play that tight, grinding game and for me, in that scenario, you need a solid set piece game, your line-out and scrum needs to hold up.
“It doesn’t necessarily come down to who has got the best attacking formation and structures, although that helps, it normally just comes down to dealing with that high-pressure moment.”
His abilities as a leader saw Gregan assume the captaincy of Australia after the retirement of the other Wallaby to make my Royall Lyme XV John Eales. Although he would enjoy much success in that role, Gregan’s lowest point was as the captain of the 2003 Rugby World Cup side that lost to England and Jonny Wilkinson’s boot in the famous final. Undeterred by the defeat, the scrum half lead his Australian team to a string of victories in 2004, including their next game against England which they won convincingly 51 to 15. His stats overall for the Rugby World Cup are played four – QF, won 1, lost 1,QF – in that order.
Gregan made 139 appearances for his country and ended his career as the most capped player in rugby, a title he conceded to Ireland Brian O’Driscoll. He remains one half of the most capped half back partnership with Stephen Larkham, with the Aussie pairing enjoying 79 outings together in the green and gold.
One to Watch: Aaron Smith
— SportsJOE.ie (@SportsJOEdotie) January 10, 2015
Incredible to think that for Aaron Smith, the constant presence at No 9 for the All Blacks, RWC2015 will be his first World Cup. The Highlanders scrum half continues to impress at club and international level, driving his teams forward in attack and not afraid to make his tackles in defence.
While there is focus and debate on the No 10 as Carter, Barrett, Slade and fellow Highlander Sopoaga all jostle for the fly half shirt, Smith is a near automatic selection to partner at 9. The Manawatu man looks sure to make his debut in the sport’s biggest test as the All Blacks go for back to back victories.
At Royall Lyme we believe a Royall Man always helps you to your feet after making you eat dirt. A royall man is a winner, yes, but more importantly, a royall man is, by this very nature, a role model and a natural leader. A Royall Man demonstrates exemplary character.
A Royall Man deserves Royall Acclaim when he represents his team, school or university with honor on and off the field. Royall fragrances has been in business since the 1950′s and launched in Brooks Brothers in 1960. To this day, we are still the only product line to be sold in Brooks Brothers that is not produced by Brooks Brother. We have a total of seven unique fragrances including Royall Lyme , Royall Rugby, Royall Spyce , Royall Muske , Royall Bay Rhum , Royall Mandarin and Royall Vetiver.
Gavin Hickie, USA Rugby Collegiate All-Americans Head Coach, is a former Ireland A & 7s, Leinster and Leicester rugby player now Head Coach of Dartmouth Rugby. He writes for RugbyToday.com and other publications when not coaching and blogging on lineoutcoach.com