Former Australia international Stephen Larkham has been inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame at a special ceremony held in Sydney on the eve of Australia’s Bledisloe Cup opener with New Zealand.
A Rugby World Cup winner in 1999, Larkham amassed 102 caps, scoring 25 tries in a tally of 135 test points throughout his international playing career before retiring from international rugby after Rugby World Cup 2007 in France.
The ceremony, attended by Chairman of the Hall of Fame panel John Eales and fellow team members from the Australian side who historically won the Bledisloe Cup 3-0 in 1998, celebrated Larkham’s decorated career and outstanding contribution to rugby.
Hall of Fame inductee George Gregan, who played alongside Larkham in a half-back partnership that spanned 73 tests and was central to Australia’s successful reign at the time, had the honour of presenting the prestigious accolade to his former team-mate.
"The older you get and further away from playing rugby, the more sentimental you feel," said Larkham.
"It’s a nice accolade and something I'm very proud of but I'm very conscious it's a team sport and I wouldn't have had any of the success I had without the players around me.
"It was a special period for Australian rugby and I feel very lucky to have been playing when I did."
Eales said: "It really was a privilege to play with Steve. He had a wonderful confidence and composure every time he pulled on the jersey of his club, state or country. Many of us were the beneficiary of that."
Gregan said: "It was a real pleasure and a lot of fun playing with Stevie for so many years at both the international and provincial level. I had the best seat in the house in terms of his incredible skills. He was a match-winner but more importantly an incredible team member who cared for his players. It was a real honour making the presentation to welcome him into the Rugby Hall of Fame, it was a great occasion."
Alongside Larkham, former legends of the game Liza Burgess (Wales), Ronan O’Gara (Ireland), Pierre Villepreux (France) and Bryan Williams (New Zealand) will also be inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2018.
O’Gara, Villepreux, Williams and Burgess will attend a prestigious event, which will celebrate their careers and contributions to the game, at the state-of-the-art physical home of the Hall of Fame in Rugby, England on 12 September.
The five latest inductees bring the total in the Hall of Fame to 142 since it began in 2006.
For more information on the World Rugby Hall of Fame, visit www.worldrugby.org/halloffame
World Rugby Hall of Fame 2018 inductees:
About The World Rugby Hall of Fame: To be eligible for consideration for the World Rugby Hall of Fame, inductees must have been retired from playing and coaching international rugby for a minimum of three years. They will have made an outstanding contribution to the game of rugby while also demonstrating rugby’s core values.
The World Rugby Hall of Fame panel consists of: Chairman John Eales (Australia, Hall of Fame inductee No.6), Pablo Mamone (Argentina), Henri Garcia (France), David Hands (England), Rob Cole (Wales), Anna Richards (New Zealand and Hall of Fame inductee No.84).
At the beginning of each year, World Rugby determines if there is a relevant theme for that year’s inductions and in conjunction with the panel, put a shortlist of candidates together. The World Rugby Hall of Fame panel vote on the shortlist. These votes and a discussion with World Rugby determine the final list of candidates to be inducted. Each year approximately five to 10 people are inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame at a presentation.
WORLD RUGBY HALL OF FAME – INDUCTEE NO.138 – STEPHEN LARKHAM (AUSTRALIA)
Born: 29 May, 1974 in Canberra, Australia
Stephen Larkham started his international career at full-back but soon developed into one of the most creative fly-halves in world rugby.
Seventy-three of his 102 tests saw him playing alongside George Gregan, a half-back partnership that came to embody the success of Australia and the Brumbies during their hey-day. Such is their legacy, the east stand at the Canberra Stadium is named after them.
Possessing a ghosting break and superb distribution skills, Larkham was the conduit that made the Wallabies’ backline so effective, creating time and space for those around him to exploit. That said, he was still a threat in his own right, scoring 25 tries in a tally of 135 test points.
Larkham appeared at three Rugby World Cups and was an integral part of the champion team of 1999. His monster, 48-metre drop goal to defeat defending champions South Africa in the semi-final was one of the defining moments of the tournament. Larkham also helped Australia into the 2003 final before retiring from international rugby after RWC 2007 in France.
He went on to coach the Brumbies for three years, with whom he’d won two Super Rugby titles as a player in 2001 and 2004, before taking on the attack and backs coach role with the Wallabies under Michael Cheika.
WORLD RUGBY HALL OF FAME – INDUCTEE NO.141 – BRYAN WILLIAMS (NEW ZEALAND)
Born: 3 October, 1950 in Auckland, New Zealand
Knighted for his services to rugby in 2018, the 10th New Zealander to be so bestowed, Bryan Williams is widely considered to be one of his country’s greatest-ever players.
Born in Auckland but of Samoan descent, Williams was the first Polynesian player to represent the All Blacks, well over two decades before Jonah Lomu and company left their indelible mark on the game.
Built like a forward but with also blessed with plenty of pace, the physically imposing winger was a nightmare to defend against, as the Springboks found out in 1970. Chosen to tour apartheid South Africa as "an honorary white", Williams scored 14 tries in 13 appearances.
By the time he retired after New Zealand’s 1978 grand slam tour of the UK and Ireland, Williams had 66 tries to his name from 113 matches, 38 of them tests.
Williams was also a four-time winner of the Ranfurly Shield with Auckland as well as helping his province to their maiden NPC first division title triumph in 1982.
A lawyer by trade, Williams won further honours with Ponsonby and Auckland as a coach and masterminded Samoa’s famous triumph over Wales at Rugby World Cup 1999 before teaming up with Graham Mourie at the Hurricanes.
Williams was appointed President of the New Zealand Rugby Union in 2011.
VIA WORLD RUGBY