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The five rugby legends inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame

BY Jack Tunney  ·  Tuesday Oct 31, 2023

To achieve just one top-level international cap is an impressive feat, but to achieve multiple is something that most can only dream of. When you consider those individuals who have not only accumulated numerous international caps but have also reached the pinnacle of greatness during their time at the highest level, their contributions certainly merit acknowledgement.

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Thankfully, this is where the World Rugby Hall of Fame plays a crucial role. The inductees for this year are truly exceptional.

Dan Carter, Hall of Fame Inductee No.162 (New Zealand)

PARIS, FRANCE – OCTOBER 29: Dan Carter arrives at the World Rugby Awards 2023 at Opera Garnier on October 29, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

“It’s a huge honour to be inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame and the first thing I thought about was how lucky I was to be a part of so many incredible All Black teams throughout my career.

“I thought about my teammates, coaches, everyone who has played a part in my journey as a rugby player. I’m so extremely honoured but I wouldn’t be able to do it without their support and the support of my family. They’ve been there supporting me. My wife who’s back at home and my mum and dad – they would all have loved to be here and played huge parts in getting me here today.

“I don’t see myself as a legend. I’m being inducted alongside some legends of the game so I’m really humbled and grateful for the induction, for my name to go alongside some people who have contributed to this wonderful game of rugby.”

Thierry Dusautoir, Hall of Fame Inductee No.163 (France)

PARIS, FRANCE – OCTOBER 29: Thierry Dusautoir arrives at the World Rugby Awards 2023 at Opera Garnier on October 29, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

“I found out (about the induction) in July when I received a letter from John Eales (former Australia captain, Hall of Fame Chairman) and it was a big surprise and an enormous pleasure.

“For any rugby player it’s the ultimate individual accolade. Rugby is a team sport and it celebrates the collective spirit, not the individual, so this is a massive honour.”

Juan Martín Hernández, Hall of Fame Inductee No.165 (Argentina)

PARIS, FRANCE – OCTOBER 29: Juan Martin Hernandez of Argentina arrives at the World Rugby Awards 2023 at Opera Garnier on October 29, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

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“It’s a huge honour and privilege to be named in the World Rugby Hall of Fame, especially to be inducted alongside guys like Dan Carter, Bryan Habana, George Smith and Thierry Dusautoir.

“It’s an individual achievement in a team sport but at the same time we all acknowledge that we didn’t do this by ourselves, so I share this with everyone who helped me – my family, my teammates and my clubs, including here in France, and of course Argentina. They allowed me to be here today receiving this and it’s for all of them too.

“I’m the fourth player from Argentina (to be inducted into the Hall of Fame) after Porta, Pichot and Contepomi. I think they all represent what rugby means and how rugby is played and I’m very proud to join them.”

Bryan Habana, Hall of Fame Inductee No.166 (South Africa)

PARIS, FRANCE – OCTOBER 29: Bryan Habana – here receiving a Tudor watch – arrives at the World Rugby Awards 2023 at Opera Garnier on October 29, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

“It’s a massive honour and privilege. When you start out this journey, and I got inspired in 1995 to pick up the game, never in your wildest dreams do you expect to play one test, ten tests. In my wildest dreams I never thought I’d play 100 tests for my country.

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“You look back now and yes you get a sense of gratification, the sense of sacrifice and dedication, but this induction is really a way to thank everyone who was part of my journey because it wasn’t possible without so many people – my family, my wife who sacrificed a lot when I was so far away for so long, taking her all over the world so I could live out my dream. The coaches who selected me, the legends I got to play with, the legends I got to play against. The media, the fans. What we did as players is great but that is the culmination of so many other things and to be inducted is a way to say thank you to each and every one of them who formed me as a rugby player, which was important, but also formed me as a person.

“I’m grateful to have been blessed with a talent from God to do something I love for a country where sport provides so much in terms of unification, inspiration and hope, in a country that’s still very much divided. Your dreams can sometimes seem insurmountable and there are always challenges and hurdles, life knocks you down, but hopefully this shows what is possible if you are willing to use your talent, sacrifice, work hard, be resilient and choose hope.

“I’m extremely proud, grateful for all the support I’ve had in my career and hopefully this shows just a little bit of what is possible.”

George Smith, Hall of Fame Inductee No.164 (Australia)

PARIS, FRANCE – OCTOBER 29: Host Ugo Monye speaks with World Rugby Hall of Fame inductees Bryan Habana, Dan Carter, Thierry Dusautoir, George Smith and Juan Martin Hernandez during the World Rugby Awards at Opera Garnier on October 29, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

“I am humbled to receive this recognition. I played the game for many years and really enjoyed the friendships I’ve gathered and the volunteers who’ve contributed towards my development as a player and as a human.

“With regards to what I’ve learnt, I’ve learnt that rugby is a gentleman’s sport on and off the field. Do I miss it? Definitely not looking at the players playing the final yesterday. Huge congratulations to the South African team, deserving winners, and commiserations to the kiwis. I’m very thankful and very fortunate to be in this position.”

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