George Gregan

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George Gregan
George Gregan.jpg
Full name George Musarurwa Gregan
Date of birth (1973-04-19) 19 April 1973 (age 41)
Place of birth Lusaka, Zambia
Height 173 cm (5 ft 8 in)[1]
Weight 80 kg (12 st 8 lb)
School St Edmund's College, Canberra
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Scrum Half
Professional / senior clubs
Years Club / team Caps (points)
2007/8
2008/11
Toulon
Suntory Sungoliath
28 (10)
correct as of 14 October 2011.
Super Rugby
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1996–2007 Brumbies 136 (116)
correct as of 2014-06-20.
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1994–2007 Australia 139 (99)
correct as of 2014-06-20.

George Musarurwa Gregan AM[2] (born 19 April 1973) is a retired Australian rugby union player who (until March 2014, when Ireland and British and Irish Lions centre Brian O'Driscoll overtook him) held the record number of international caps for any rugby union player.

Gregan was born in Lusaka, Zambia. He played Super 12 (now Super Rugby) for the Brumbies from the inception of that competition in 1996 through 2007, helping to lead them to overall victories in 2001 and 2004. He is a foundation Brumbies player and one of the few players whose career spans both the amateur and professional eras.[3][clarification needed] His appearances as Australian captain include a Bledisloe Cup win in 2002 and an extra-time loss to England in the 2003 Rugby World Cup final. As a member of the Wallabies team, Gregan has attained the zenith of the rugby world, winning the Rugby World Cup in 1999. Gregan and his longtime Wallabies teammate, fly-half Stephen Larkham, also hold the all-time record for Test appearances by a halfback partnership with 79.[4]

Life[edit]

Gregan was born in Zambia, of a Zimbabwean mother and an Australian father,[5] coincidentally in the same hospital[6] where Corné Krige, who would grow up to be the South Africa captain during Gregan's Wallabies captaincy, would be born two years later. His family moved to Australia when he was one year old, and he grew up in Canberra where he was educated at St Edmund's College and graduated with a Bachelor of Education (Physical Education) from the University of Canberra. He and his wife Erica have three children, Max, Charlie and Jazz. Max was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2004 and George set up the George Gregan Foundation in 2005 after spending time with Max in hospital. The foundation raises funds to build children's playgrounds at hospitals and train doctors who specialize in epilepsy.

Rugby career[edit]

Gregan represented Australia at under-19 and under-21 level.

1994 to 1999[edit]

He made his first appearance for the Wallabies in 1994 in a match against Italy in Brisbane, which the Wallabies won by three points, 23 to 20. He was subsequently capped in the victories over Italy again, and Western Samoa.

Later that year, Gregan made a famous try-saving tackle on All Black Jeff Wilson that directly led to Australia winning the Bledisloe Cup that year and is much remembered as one of the greatest moments in the Wallabies-All Blacks rivalry.[7] After two caps against Argentina the following season, Gregan had so far been on the winning side in all of his international games as Australia entered the 1995 World Cup in South Africa as defending champions. However, Australia made their exit at the quarter finals, losing 25 to 22 to England at Newlands in Cape Town.

The game went professional post-1995 World Cup, and one outcome of this was the formation of the Super 12, of which Gregan became a foundation player for the ACT Brumbies franchise. That season Gregan appeared eight times for the Wallabies, including solid wins over both Wales and Canada in Brisbane, scoring a try in the Canadian clash. Another outcome of professionalism was the formation of the Tri Nations Series between Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Gregan played in three of Australia's four fixtures at the first ever tournament, scoring a try in the 25 to 32 loss to the All Blacks in Brisbane.

During the mid-1990s' Super League war, Gregan was approached to be the starting halfback for the new Adelaide rugby league team for "seriously more money" than he would earn playing rugby union, but he opted to remain in the 15-man code.[8]

He was elevated to the vice-captaincy of the Wallabies in 1997. In the 1997 Tri Nations Series, Gregan scored a try in the opening game against the All Blacks, which was eventually lost 18 to 33, and the Wallabies won only one game, against South Africa, finishing at the bottom of the table. By the end of the year, Gregan was capped another four times.

After winning in two matches against the Irish, and one against England in the winter of 1999 at home, the Wallabies ended up finishing in the middle of the table for the 1999 Tri Nations Series (with Gregan having played in every match), though they were still favourable entering the 1999 World Cup held in Wales. Australia finished at the top of Pool E, winning all their games, with Gregan playing in the matches against Romania and Ireland, though he was rested in the final pool game against the USA. The Wallabies went onto defeat hosts Wales in the quarter finals at the new Millennium Stadium with Gregan scoring a try, putting Joe Roff into space and then taking the scoring pass, and enter the final after defeating defending champions South Africa in the semi-finals. The Wallabies became two-time World Champions after defeating France 35 to 12 in the final.

2001 to 2005[edit]

After the international retirement of John Eales in 2001, Gregan became the Wallabies captain. He was an obvious choice to fill the role, as it would be a natural progression from his position as vice-captain, as well as the fact that Gregan was a virtual automatic selection for the national team.[9]

Gregan played in all of Australia's 6 matches at the 2003 Rugby World Cup. He landed an early drop goal in the 17 to 16 victory over Ireland in the pool stages. He also scored a try in the 33 to 16 win over Scotland in the quarter-finals. Gregan led the Wallabies in defeating the All Blacks in the semi-final. This contest led to a controversy for Gregan when he taunted his opponents after defeating them the comment, "Four more years boys, four more years" i.e. New Zealand would have to wait another 4 years for an attempt at winning the World Cup.[10][11] Australia lost to England in the final.

Following Australia's loss to the English in the World Cup, Gregan led the Wallabies on a massive winning campaign during the 2004 season. After defeating Scotland twice at home, the Wallabies faced the English in a World Cup replay in Brisbane, where they got their revenge, defeating England 51 to 15. Under Gregan, Australia lost just three matches in 2004, one against South Africa, one against New Zealand 16-7 in New Zealand and then against France in Paris. In July during the 2004 Tri Nations Series, Gregan ran out at Subiaco Oval in Perth against South Africa for his 100th Wallaby test.[12] In October 2004, Gregan announced that his four-year-old son had epilepsy and has launched an epilepsy awareness campaign in Australia with the slogan 'Get on the Team'. He also took up the role of patron of Brainwave Australia.

Gregan missed a lot of the 2005 Super 12 season after breaking his leg during a game against the New South Wales Waratahs in Canberra. Gregan returned for the match against Italy in Melbourne, which the Wallabies won 61 to 29. Though after a win over the French and one over the Springboks, the Wallabies fell to the bottom of the 2005 Tri Nations Series table, losing all of their games. With his start in the final match of the 2005 Tri Nations at Eden Park in Auckland against the All Blacks, Gregan equalled England's Jason Leonard as the most-capped player for a national team in Test rugby, with 114 (Leonard also has five Lions caps). Appropriately, when Australia made their entrance for that match, Gregan went out on the field by himself before any of his team-mates entered the pitch.

On 5 November 2005, he earned his 115th cap, surpassing Leonard, when he led out the Wallabies at Stade Vélodrome in Marseille against France. The Wallabies lost the match 16 to 26. The French loss was followed by a meeting with the English at Twickenham, where England's superior scrummaging saw them also win 26 to 16.

2006[edit]

In the first test of 2006, under new coach John Connolly, the Wallabies completed a solid win over England. Gregan came off the bench in the second half of the second Test in Melbourne as he earned his 120th international cap - setting a new world record.

After the matches against the English and Irish the Wallabies entered the 2006 Tri Nations Series. Two weeks later the All Blacks came to Brisbane for the Bledisloe Cup clash, in which Gregan equalled John Eales' record for most caps as captain of Australia, which is 55.[13] In the subsequent match against South Africa in Sydney, Gregan passed Eales' record, becoming the most capped Australian captain of all time.[14] The Wallabies managed to scrape home 20 to 18. For the 2006 European Tour, Gregan was rested and Matt Giteau was given a chance at halfback.

2007[edit]

On 22 March 2007, the French Top 14 club Toulon announced that it had signed Gregan to a contract for the 2007–08 season. He arrived in France after the 2007 Rugby World Cup, and was reportedly paid €400,000 for the season.[15]

The Gregan - Larkham Grandstand at Canberra Stadium

Gregan played his last home game with the Brumbies on 28 April 2007; leading his team to a victory over the Canterbury Crusaders. Fittingly, this was also the last home game for his team mate Stephen Larkham. The two were farewelled with the announcement that a stand at Canberra Stadium would be named after them.[citation needed]

He was again selected as part of the Wallabies squad for the 2007 home tests against Wales and Fiji and the Tri-Nations Series, although he was no longer the Captain of the team and was on the reserves bench behind Matt Giteau for the Tests against Wales. Gregan did regain his starting spot for the first Tri-Nations game against South Africa, showing his class and longevity. The Wallabies' co-Captains were Phil Waugh and Stirling Mortlock but Waugh was dropped to the bench during the Tri-Nations in place of Gregan's Brumbies teammate George Smith, elevating Mortlock to the captaincy.[citation needed]

In June 2007, Greg Growden, Chief Rugby Correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald said that "several high-ranking Australian Rugby Union sources told the Herald that Gregan was the "raging hot favourite" to be Australia's World Cup captain"[16] However, when the World Cup squad was announced, Mortlock was named Captain, whilst Waugh and Gregan were named vice captains.[citation needed]

In the 2007 Rugby World Cup - Pool B match against Fiji he equalled Will Carling's record of captaining an international side for 59 times and in the 2009 Tri Nations Series Springbok John Smit equalled and beaten his (as well as Carling) record in tests between New Zealand in Bloemfontein and Durban respectively.[citation needed]

Post-Australia[edit]

On 18 June 2008 it was announced that he had joined Suntory Sungoliath in Japan,[17] following a season at RC Toulonnais in the French Top 14.

Post-playing retirement[edit]

In 2012, Gregan was assistant coach at the Brumbies.[18] He runs the coffee company George Gregan Espresso.[19]

In 2014, Gregan joined the Fox-Sports Rugby commentator team, along with his former Wallabies team-mate John Eales.[20]

Honours[edit]

Brumbies
Toulon
Suntory Sungoliath
Australia
General

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "2001 Australian Wallabies squad - British & Irish Lions Tour". rugby.com.au. Australian Rugby Union. Retrieved 17 June 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "GREGAN, George Musarurwa, AM". It's an Honour. Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  3. ^ "George Gregan". brumbies.com.au. Archived from the original on 30 May 2006. Retrieved 17 June 2006. 
  4. ^ Bond, Karen (19 October 2007). "Thanks for the memories". Rugby News Service. International Rugby Board. Archived from the original on 21 October 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-10. 
  5. ^ "George Gregan - Player Profile". Georgegregan.com. Retrieved 2008-11-13. 
  6. ^ "Captain Courageous - Corne Kirge - TheGoal.com". Thegoal.com. Retrieved 2008-11-13. 
  7. ^ "Wilson swaps a rugby jersey for a Black Cap - Cricket". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax. 13 January 2005. Retrieved 2008-11-13. 
  8. ^ Gregan, George (2008). Halfback, Half Forward. Australia: Pan Macmillan. p. 65. ISBN 978-1-4050-3861-4. Retrieved 12 March 2011. 
  9. ^ "Gregan named wallaby captain". rugby.com.au. Archived from the original on 26 August 2006. Retrieved 29 July 2006. 
  10. ^ "Gregan bragging". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-06-20. 
  11. ^ Devlin, Martin (10 May 2009). "Cup won't be empty for three more years". Sunday News. Retrieved 1 October 2011. 
  12. ^ "George Gregan to Play his 100th Test Match". rugby.com.au. Retrieved 17 June 2006. 
  13. ^ "Gregan to level Eales". Sportal. Retrieved 29 July 2006. 
  14. ^ "Gregan happy to win to ugly". scrum.com. Retrieved 9 August 2006. 
  15. ^ "Gregan puts pen to paper with Toulon". Planet Rugby. 22 March 2007. 
  16. ^ [1][dead link]
  17. ^ "dead link". Daily Yomiuri. Japan. 19 June 2008. [dead link]
  18. ^ "Gregan says Wallabies are close to All Blacks". Allblacks.com. 2012-05-30. Retrieved 2013-06-20. 
  19. ^ "GG espresso : welcome". Georgegregan.com. Retrieved 2013-06-20. 
  20. ^ "George Gregan, John Eales split over Sam Burgess’s hopes of lining up for England at RWC 2015". Daily Telegraph. 2014-02-19. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  21. ^ "George Gregan OAM". Sport Australia Hall of Fame. Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  22. ^ "Legends inducted into IRB Hall of Fame" (Press release). International Rugby Board. 18 November 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2013. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Jason Little
Australian national rugby union captain
20001-2004
Succeeded by
Chris Whitaker