By Cian Locke
World Rugby has announced that five legends of the game — including Irish Examiner columnist our own Ronan O’Gara — will be inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2018.
Liza Burgess (Wales), Stephen Larkham (Australia), Pierre Villepreux (France), and Bryan Williams (New Zealand) will also be honoured at a special ceremony in Rugby, England, on Wednesday, September 12.
The ceremony will be held 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.
O’Gara, Villepreux, Williams, and Burgess will attend the prestigious event, which will celebrate their careers and contributions to the game. Stephen Larkham, due to his involvement in the Rugby Championship, will receive his accolade at a special ceremony next Friday in Sydney, the day before Australia’s Bledisloe Cup opener with New Zealand.
These five inductees bring the total in the Hall of Fame to 142 since it began in 2006.
World Rugby chairman and Hall of Fame inductee Bill Beaumont said: “On behalf of the rugby family we would like to congratulate this year’s five new inductees. Each have left their mark on the sport and through their achievements and character, inspired millions to play and support rugby worldwide.”
Fellow World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee and chairman of the Hall of Fame panel, John Eales, said: “Through their induction, they represent the many thousands of men and women who have made our game great.”
O’Gara remains Ireland’s leading point scorer and the top point scorer in the history of the European Cup by some distance.
Across his 128 Tests for Ireland, O’Gara accrued 1,083 points in a career spanning 13 years from 2000 to 2013. He played in three Rugby World Cups — 2003, 2007, 2011 — and also toured with the British & Irish Lions on in 2001, 2005, 2009.
After four years as an assistant coach at Racing 92, whom he helped win the Top 14 in 2016, he left Paris at the end of 2017 to take on a similar role with New Zealand’s Crusaders, who retained their Super Rugby crown last weekend.