Jason Leonard, England. World Cups Played In – 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003.
Leonard is one of several players who has impressed himself on the English rugby viewing public. A long career of 15 years, constant demands for his services at an international level limited his Premiership appearances to a just 309 games. He held the record for the most capped forward, until the usurper Richie McCaw passed him in 2013. His total England caps stand at a staggering 114, with five for the British and Irish Lions added for good measure.
Unsurprisingly, his points scored is only a single try, but unusually, his scoring record against England is identical, following a game for the Barbarians against England in 2003. His illustrious career nearly didn’t happen, after a ruptured vertebrae in his neck against Wales required surgery. He recovered in time to play his next test against Canada in the autumn without missing a test.
His first World Cup in 1991 took him to the final, where, alongside Brian Moore and Jeff Probyn, the front row were feared by all. Australia took the spoils that day, winning 12-6. Leonard held a record of 40 consecutive England caps until the final pool game against Samoa in 1995, where he was rested, and he suffered defeat against New Zealand and France to finish fourth with the rest of his team.
Heartbreak came again in 1999, where the then World champions South Africa eliminated the English hopes at the quarter final stages.
The Noughties would prove to be a mixed decade for Leonard, where he became the first front row player to become a centurion, 100 caps to his name, against France in 2003. Sadly, he had suffered a bereavement of former Harlequins colleague Nick Duncombe before the match and was substituted after 33 minutes due to a hamstring injury.
He returned to take part in the Grand Slam decider against Ireland, and captained England against Wales in August 2003. Although considered third choice, he played every game in the 2003 World Cup, including an extra-time appearance when he replaced Phil Vickery in the final. which secured him a well-earned medal around his neck before retiring from the game in 2004.Reuse content