Hall of Fame welcomes five greats in 2007

(IRB.COM) Monday 24 December 2007
Hall of Fame welcomes five greats in 2007
Gareth Edwards was one of the five 2007 inductees

Five new inductees were admitted into the IRB Hall of Fame in 2007, joining 2006 inductees William Webb Ellis and Rugby School.

The latest members, announced at the IRB Awards ceremony in Paris the night after the Rugby World Cup final, are Pierre de Coubertin, Wilson Whineray, Dr Danie Craven, Gareth Edwards and John Eales and all found their way into the IRB list via an objective public vote and then deliberations by a panel chaired by IRB Chairman Dr Syd Millar.

Welsh scrum half in the 1970s Gareth Edwards is widely recognised as the greatest ever rugby player and, while he looked back with immense pride and satisfaction upon being awarded the trophy, he also rued the fact that rugby's biggest event had taken so long to come to fruition.

"JPR (Williams) has already told me that if Wales had played in a World Cup, we would have won it!" he said.

"I suppose we could only possibly assume who were the best in the world back then. If New Zealand had beaten South Africa then they were, and if we happened to go out there and beat them then we were, it was always 'maybe we are', it wasn't as tangible as it is today."

Edwards was also quick to heap praise on the other members of those fabled Welsh sides of the 1970s.

"It's lovely to receive this with so many of my former team mates here present, and I'd like to think that I'm sharing this with them because that's what the whole essence of the game is about. It's a team game and indeed if it wasn't for their contribution I wouldn't be receiving it."

Fellow inductee, former Australia skipper John Eales, was also keen to deflect praise, although for him lifting the Webb Ellis Cup in 1999 does go down as the highlight of a glittering career.

"Rugby is a very special game and people at all levels and of all ages get the opoprtunity to dream playing a sport like rugby," he said.

"It is the one sport that welcomes and has a place for everyone, all body shapes, all sizes and that's very special. It's a gift that just keeps giving, no matter how long you're out of it, no matter how much you give to it you get so much more back.

"As Gareth said, none of us would be here if it wasn't for our team mates. There are a lot of Australians that I've played with who made a lot of us look very good so I'd like to thank all the guys I stood on a pitch with down the years."