Rugby Union: Probyn poised to play on

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The Independent Online
FOR others it would be a rugby dotage, but Jeff Probyn gladly reminded the England selectors yesterday that even at 36 years and 11 months he has no intention of retiring. Farewells may be in order for such striplings as Wade Dooley, 35, and Peter Winterbottom, 32, but not for Probyn.

He will break Gary Pearce's record of caps won by an England prop when he faces Ireland in Dublin on Saturday and he does not intend his 37th cap to be his last. Whether he will play against New Zealand at Twickenham in November, though, is another matter.

'I'm going to play next season at the highest level I can achieve,' Probyn said yesterday. 'I enjoy my rugby and want to play on for Wasps. First Division rugby means a hard physical confrontation every week and makes stepping up to internationals a routine move once you're established in the England set-up. There's no point in my playing league rugby unless I intend to play for England.'

Alas for Probyn, the selectors have already telegraphed their intentions by picking Victor Ubogu at tight-head for the two autumn internationals. So Probyn may have to accept that the forthcoming Lions tour to New Zealand, for which he has every chance of selection, will be his international swan-song.

Records seem to fall in every game these days. Will Carling became captain in 1988 when he was the youngest member of the team. On Saturday he leads England for the 35th time, surpassing the world record set by France's Jean-Pierre Rives from 1979 to 1984.

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