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With the rugby World Cup final taking place in Paris this weekend, a look at XV players who were good enough to play both sports to a high standard
October 18, 2007
With the rugby World Cup final taking place in Paris this weekend, we look at XV players who were good enough to play both sports to a high standard
Rob Andrew England
Andrew made 71 appearances for England as a fly-half during their 1990s heyday, his most famous moment coming in the 1995 World Cup when his last-gasp drop goal gave England a quarter-final win over Australia. He was also a decent cricketer, good enough to score a hundred for Cambridge against Nottinghamshire. And in 1985, playing for Yorkshire's 2nd XI against Lancashire, his gentle offspin removed a 17-year-old Mike Atherton for a duck. He is currently England's director of rugby.
Andrew Stoddart England
One of only two men to have captained England at both sports - Monkey Hornby was the other - Stoddart didn't start playing cricket seriously until he was 22 and immediately made a mark with an innings of 485 in a day for Hampstead - he had been up all night beforehand playing poker and then raced away from the match to play a few sets of tennis. He could bat, he could bowl, and he was an excellent fielder, and what's more he was the leading centre of his era, playing ten internationals for England. But his life ended in tragedy. Unable to cope with declining physical powers and financial worries, he committed suicide.
Rudi van Vuuren Namibia
van Vuuren is unique in that he represented his country at the 2003 cricket World Cup in South Africa and at the rugby World Cup in Australia later that year. His five matches in cricket's version were mixed affairs - van Vuuren was hammered for a then-record 28 in one over by Darren Lehmann, but he gained some solace in taking 5 for 43 against England. A decent fly-half, he was injured for much of Namibia's rugby campaign, including their 142-0 defeat against the defending champions Australia, but he came on to make history as a late replacement against Romania.
Alistair Hignell England
Hignell won Blues at Cambridge for both rugby and cricket, winning 15 caps for England as a solid full-back. He made his England debut in 1975 in a brutal encounter with Australia at Brisbane - eight days later he was playing for Gloucestershire against Middlesex in Bristol. He continued to juggle cricket, rugby and teaching after university, and subsequently moved into journalism working for the BBC. His England career overlapped with another cricket-playing full-back - Dusty Hare.
Tuppy Owen-Smith South Africa/England
A man who would have been at home alongside Corinthians such as CB Fry. A good lightweight boxer, he scored 129 for South Africa against England at Headingley in 1929 - including a hundred before lunch on the third day - and he could bowl as well. In 1930 he returned to England as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford and shone at cricket and rugby there, so much so that he won ten caps for England as an attacking full-back.
Mike Smith England
An inspirational county and solid England captain, Mike Smith scored three hundreds in three varsity matches for Oxford - breaking a record held by the Nawab of Pataudi - and he captained both the cricket and rugby sides. In his final year he played once for England as outside centre against Wales, but he had a poor game and was not selected again. He wore glasses to play cricket but not, understandably, to play rugby.
Charlie Oliver New Zealand
Oliver first played for the All Blacks in 1928 - the side also included Curly Page, who captained New Zealand in seven Tests - and he would have won a second cap in 1931 but had to withdraw after he was bitten on the hand in a provincial match. In 1935-36 he was vice-captain of the side which toured England. With Tindill, a fellow tourist, he co-wrote The Tour of the Third All Blacks. In 1926-27 he played cricket for New Zealand against the Rest of New Zealand, but he took part in little cricket thereafter.
Martin Donnelly New Zealand/England
Donnelly was one of the first truly great New Zealand cricketers, a supremely talented left-hand batsman of whom it was said that "he had everything as a Test batsman: style and grace; confidence and determination; success and modesty". But for World War II and New Zealand's rare international outings, his career record would have been far more impressive. When at Oxford after the war it was said that people would flock to the Parks when word got round that Donnelly was batting. He also played once for England at fly-half, an unfortunate experience as Ireland hammered them at Lansdowne Road.
Clive van Ryneveld South Africa/England
Many considered van Ryneveld the finest South African sportsman of his generation, and had his career in law not increasingly impinged then he might have achieved even more. A double Blue at Oxford, he played all four Five Nations matches for England in 1948-49 while still at university, scoring three tries.
Maurice Turnbull England/Wales
One of Wales' great sportsmen, he represented them at cricket, hockey and rugby, was a regional squash champion and looked set to become an influential administrator. He started playing for Glamorgan as a schoolboy in 1924 and then led them with distinction throughout the 1930s. He was 33 when war broke out in 1939. Five years later he was shot through the head by a sniper in Normandy.
Reggie Schwarz South Africa/England
Schwarz was an ordinary cricketer until he learned the art of googly bowling from Bernard Bosanquet. He developed the art, passed on his knowledge, and for a few years South Africa's legspin trio of Schwarz, Bert Vogler and Aubrey Faulkner were match-winners, especially on matting wickets. Before emigrating to South Africa he had won three caps for England as a centre. He served throughout World War I only to die from Spanish Flu a week after the Armistice.
Otto Nothling Australia
Remarkably for a country that has produced so many multi-talented sportsmen, Nothling is the only man to have played both rugby and football for Australia. A solid batsman and useful seamer who squeezed sport around his medical career, his one Test came in 1928-29, the season he made his only first-class hundred. The man he kept out of the side was Don Bradman, who fulfilled 12th man duties for the only time in his life. Nothing made 0 and 44 but within a year he had given up. His one rugby Test was against the All Blacks in Sydney in 1924.
Do you know of other sportsmen who played both rugby and cricket?
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