IRB Hall of Fame Welcomes Five Inductees

(IRB.COM) Sunday 23 November 2008
 IRB Hall of Fame Welcomes Five Inductees
France's Philippe Sella is one of five inductees into this year's IRB Hall of Fame

The International Rugby Board has unveiled five inductees who have been admitted into the IRB Hall of Fame.

The latest members, announced at the glittering IRB Awards ceremony in London on Sunday evening, are the 1888 Natives Team of New Zealand and their captain Joe Warbrick, Melrose Club and Ned Haig, British Lions legend Dr Jack Kyle, Argentina great Hugo Porta and France’s record breaker Philippe Sella.

All were inducted after a process that started with an extensive list of around 30 candidates from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries posted on the IRB website for public debate and voting. The Hall of Fame judging panel, convened by IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset then selected the five inductees for 2008.

“True to the spirit of the Game and Rugby’s unique values, the 2008 inductees are individuals, clubs or teams who have left an indelible mark on the world Game, its development and history,” said Lapasset.

“All the nominees put forward by the public vote were all worthy of high praise for their achievements and impact on the Game, truly highlighting the rich history that Rugby has. It took some time to select the five nominees.”

France legend Philippe Sella is widely recognised as one of the finest players of his generation and the world’s best centre of the 1980s and 1990s, a theory evidenced by his presence in the French team for 13 consecutive seasons. Sella also held the record number of international caps - 111- for the best part of 13 years.

Sella was extremely proud to be recognised for his contribution to the Game. “For me the emotion is very strong at the moment. I would never have thought that something like this could happen when I started to play rugby.

“For me it was just to play with a rugby ball and to share than rugby ball with team mates, no more.

Regarded as one of the finest players that Argentina has ever produced, Hugo Porta represented the Pumas for over 20 years, amassing 408 points. An astute leader, Porta captained Argentina on 34 of the 57 matches he played and at the age of 36 led the Pumas in the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987. It is testament to a player blessed with great skill, that when he finally retired in 1990 aged 39, he was still performing to his best at international level.

Earlier this year Scotland’s Melrose Club celebrated 125 years of its famous Sevens tournament. As the birthplace of Sevens, Melrose has welcomed with open arms the world’s best players over many years to a competition that is renowned the world over. Ned Haig, the Melrose butcher, was a Sevens pioneer and in 1883 suggested that Melrose should host a sports tournament to help bolster club funds. He suggested an abbreviated form of the Game and on 28 April, 1883 Sevens Rugby was born. It is now enjoyed the world over.
Dr Jack Kyle has previously received the honour of being voted Ireland’s best-ever player. There are a number of Australians and New Zealanders who might also regard him amongst one of the finest ever to pull on the famous red jersey of the British and Irish Lions, such was his complete footballing ability.  A mainstay of Ireland’s 1948 Grand Slam success, Kyle starred on the 1950 British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand and Australia, playing in six tests.

The final induction is the 1888 Natives team of New Zealand, the pioneers of the famous all black jersey, the silver fern emblem and the Haka. The forefathers of New Zealand’s rich international history, the 1888 Natives were the first team from New Zealand to tour the Northern Hemisphere.

The inspiration behind the Natives, as team selector, coach and captain was ‘Joe’ Warbrick, one of the finest players of his generation, who had toured Australia in 1884 with the first New Zealand team. Born in 1862 he played seven times for New Zealand, although he did not win any caps. He was one of five brothers, on the 1888-89 tour, occasionally called the Warbricks tour.

The 2008 induction ceremony was the third IRB Hall of Fame induction. The inaugural induction in 2006 saw William Webb Ellis and Rugby School inducted, while in 2007 there were five inductees with Pierre de Coubertin, Dr Danie Craven, Sir Wilson Whineray, Gareth Edwards, and John Eales all admitted into the IRB Hall of Fame.