Leonard takes just a minute to beat record

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The Independent Online

Jason Leonard made history yesterday when he ran on for his 112th Test cap, eclipsing the previous record of 111 appearances held by the French centre, Philippe Sella.

The 35-year-old frontrower, contesting his fourth Rugby World Cup, claimed the record when he took the field to replace Phil Vickery in the fourth minute of England's semi-final against France. He stayed on the field for only about a minute while Vickery went off with a bloodied nose, then returned to the bench.

Leonard, who also holds the record for the most World Cup appearances at 21, was a member of the 1991 England team that lost the final to Australia. He also played in the 1995 and 1999 Cup campaigns but has never been back to the final.

"The biggest round of applause in the dressing room was for Jason Leonard," the England coach, Clive Woodward, said. "There's been an amount of history made out there today."

Leonard is the only member of England's 1991 World Cup squad still playing international rugby. Since making his Test debut against Argentina in 1990 as a 21-year-old, Leonard has scored just one try, also against the Pumas, when captaining the side for the first time in a 20-18 win in December 1996. In addition, he has played five matches for the British and Irish Lions which are not counted in his total for England.

The Harlequins prop's longevity is made all the more remarkable by the fact that he suffered a serious neck injury in 1992. During subsequent surgery a piece of his hip bone was removed and transplanted to his neck.