Former Ireland and Lions lock and captain Willie John McBride is the only Irishman to be included on the short list of candidates for the International Rugby Board’s Hall of Fame Class of 2007.
This is the second year of the IRB’s annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony – the inductees in 2006 were William Webb Ellis and the Rugby School.
The shortlist of candidates for induction to the IRB Hall of Fame for 2007 are:
Albert St George Hamersely (England), Arthur Gould (Wales), Pierre de Coubertin (France), Ned Haig (Scotland), Thomas Hughes (England).
Dr. Danie Craven (South Africa), George Nepia (New Zealand), Gareth Edwards (Wales), Willie John McBride (Ireland), Wilson Whineray (New Zealand); Public nominee – Gareth Rees (Canada)
John Eales (Australia), Philippe Sella (France), Jason Leonard (England); Public nominee – Diego Ormaechea (Uruguay).
Five of the candidates will be inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame at the prestigious IRB Awards Ceremony in Paris on Sunday, October 21 – the day after the 2007 World Cup final.
The on-line public voting process for the second IRB Hall of Fame induction closed at the end of August. This followed the publication on http://www.irb.com/ of candidates selected by the IRB Hall of Fame Secretariat for possible induction from the 19th century, 20th century and 21st century. Members of the public were also free to nominate candidates for possible induction.
The counting of the votes from rugby supporters around the world has produced a short-list of rugby stars, past and present that will now be considered for induction into the IRB Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame induction panel, chaired by the IRB chairman, Dr. Syd Millar, will consider the 16 finalists and will elect the five legends of the game who will form the IRB Hall of Fame Class of 2007. One inductee will emerge from the 19th century, three from the 20th century and one from the 21st century.
Toomebridge man McBride was an inaugural inductee into the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 1997 and was also inducted into the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Hall of Fame last year.
He won 63 Irish caps, toured five times with the Lions and has 17 Lions Test caps, and he was also captain of the most successful Lions tour of all time – the 1974 tour to South Africa.
On that tour, the Lions played 22 matches, won 21 and drew one. A record still unequalled in Lions tours.
He was manager of the somewhat ill-fated Lions tour to New Zealand in 1983, and also coached Ulster and Ireland in the 1980s.
McBride retired from international rugby in 1975 – the Centenary Year of the IRFU – after the game against Wales and, at that time, he was the world’s most capped player.