Brothers in arms on the World Cup stage

(Other) Friday 25 January 2013
Brothers in arms on the World Cup stage
Brothers in the Springbok front row: Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis

With his recent elevation to the England elite player squad for the RBS 6 Nations, Tom Youngs set foot on the road to Rugby World Cup 2015 and joining him for the ride is his younger brother, Ben. The duo have been teammates at Leicester for some time and turned out in the same England side during the November internationals.

Should they make it all the way to England 2015, they will join an illustrious list of brothers to turn out on rugby’s biggest stage. 

Rory and Tony Underwood - England, Rugby World Cup 1995
England’s flying wings, the Underwood boys teamed up during England’s run to the semi-finals of Rugby World Cup 1995. Rory, six years older than his brother and a tournament veteran from 1987 and 1991, can lay claim to being one of his country’s sharpest try-scorers, while Tony emerged from his shadow to score a crucial five points in the quarter-final victory over Australia and toured with the victorious British & Irish Lions in South Africa two years later. 

Gavin and Scott Hastings - Scotland, Rugby World Cup 1987, 1991 and 1995
One of Scotland’s most-celebrated rugby duos, the Hastings brothers were a staple part of the national team between the late 1980s and mid 1990s. Gavin, a brilliant full back, played 13 matches at three Rugby World Cups, with his younger brother turning out in midfield on 10 occasions. Both men were present and correct in Scotland’s biggest match at the tournament – the 1991 semi-final against England at Murrayfield – although the day was not to end well as Gavin sent a kick wide from in front of the posts as the Auld Enemy triumphed 9-6. Both were capped by the Lions on their victorious tour of Australia two years earlier, with Gavin taking the captaincy in 1993 as the tourists headed to New Zealand.

Felipe and Manuel Contepomi - Argentina, Rugby World Cup 1999, 2003 and 2007
The Contepomi twins formed an integral part of the Pumas side that turned the form book on its head at Rugby World Cup 2007. Then, as their country's midfield, they provided a saddle-load of brains to counter the brawn of their distinguished pack and flourished outside the superb half back pairing of Agustín Pichot and Juan Martín Hernández. The duo made their tournament bows in 1999 – with Manuel starting at full back against Wales in the opening match – and returned to the top table as part of an ever-improving outfit four years later. Felipe outlasted his brother by one tournament, also playing in 2011.

Craig and Scott Quinnell - Wales, Rugby World Cup 1999
When Wales opened the doors of the Millennium Stadium for Rugby World Cup 1999, it was fitting that two members of their pack for the tournament opener against Argentina carried one of Welsh rugby’s most-iconic names. The sons of former Wales and Lions forward Derek, Scott and Craig Quinnell packed down at number 8 and second row respectively as the hosts saw off the Pumas 23-18 in front of an expectant crowd. The duo were reunited for the quarter-final against eventual champions Australia, who ran out 24-9 victors.

Alesana and Henry Tuilagi - Samoa, Rugby World Cup 2007
Two members of one of rugby’s most-famous broods, Alesana started Rugby World Cup 2007 on Samoa’s wing, with big brother Henry anchoring the scrum. By competing at the tournament they were following in the footsteps of Freddie, the eldest of their brothers, who made a replacement appearance for Samoa at Rugby World Cup 1995. Alesana was back for more in 2011, when his youngest sibling, Manu, was also in New Zealand, wearing the white of England.

Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis - South Africa, Rugby World Cup 2007 and 2011
Two fully paid-up members of South Africa’s front row union, Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis were dipping their toes in the waters of international rugby as the Springboks lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 2007. Four years later they were back in action as experienced members of the squad, but on this occasion all that waited for them was disappointment at a quarter-final loss to Australia. The brothers also pack down together at domestic level, and have won Currie Cup honours with the Sharks.

Mauro and Mirco Bergamasco - Italy, Rugby World Cup 2003, 2007 and 2011
Italy’s brothers, big of heart and big of hair, have been mainstays through thick and thin for the Azzurri. Mauro, a powerful and aggressive openside flanker, made his Rugby World Cup bow against England at Twickenham in 1999 – having made his Test debut during the qualification process. Mirco joined the party in Australia four years later, playing matches against Canada and New Zealand, and has since racked up a total of eight tournament matches to his brother’s 11. Later in his career the wing also took over place-kicking duties for his team, adding an unexpected string to his bow and cementing his importance in the national set-up.

Andrew and Roland Suniula - United States of America, Rugby World Cup 2011
Raised in Auckland and products of the famous Kelston Boys’ High School, the Suniula brothers were an influential pairing for the USA Eagles at Rugby World Cup 2011 after varied careers in both codes. Andrew, a centre, turned out in New Zealand club rugby and the NRL for Manly before committing to international rugby union through his American Samoan heritage. Roland currently plays his club rugby at fly half or in midfield for Auch in France’s second tier while a third brother, Shalom, has captained the USA Sevens team. 

Anthony and Saia Faingaa - Australia, Rugby World Cup 2011
Twins they may be, but the Faingaas cut different shapes on a rugby field. Anthony played six matches for the Wallabies at Rugby World Cup 2011, with Robbie Deans favouring his rock-solid defence in midfield, while the dreadlocked Saia emerged from the bench on two occasions to add his weight at hooker. The duo came through the ranks together at the Brumbies – where younger brother Colby plies his trade as an openside – before decamping to Queensland and the Reds, where international recognition and a Super Rugby title were to follow.