Seven Welsh rugby greats are to be inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame following a deal struck between the owners of the International Rugby Hall of Fame and the global governing body.
The 'Magnificent Seven' - Gerald Davies, Mervyn Davies, Ieuan Evans, Carwyn James, Barry John, Gwyn Nicholls and JPR Williams - were among 37 rugby legends who had been inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame but, as yet, had not been honoured by the IRB.
"Recognising Rugby's heritage, and those who have shaped the Game on and off the field, is important to the IRB and we are delighted to be integrating inductees from the International Rugby Hall of Fame into our own IRB Hall of Fame," said IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset.
"Over the next year-and-a-half we will be inducting some of the greats of our game into the IRB Hall of Fame at events around the globe, culminating at Rugby World Cup 2015. I would like to thank the owners of the International Rugby Hall of Fame for their support in creating one definitive celebration of the sport."
The amalgamation of lists will mean that Rugby's rich heritage will be celebrated via one definitive Hall of Fame. Rugby is now a game played by more than 6.6 million players across 121 member unions.
The 37 names who will join the IRB list in 2014 and 2015 will be: Fred Allen, Bill Beaumont, Phil Bennett, Naas Botha, Gordon Brown, Don Clarke, Gerald Davies, Mervyn Davies, Morne du Plessis, Ieuan Evans, Sean Fitzpatrick, Grant Fox, Danie Gerber, Tim Horan, Andy Irvine, Carwyn James, Barry John, Michael Jones, Tom Kiernan, Ian Kirkpatrick, John Kirwan, Jason Leonard, Michael Lynagh, Bill McLaren, Terry McLean, Jo Maso, Colin Meads, Graham Mourie, Hennie Muller, George Nepia, Gwyn Nicholls, Jean-Pierre Rives, Fergus Slattery, Joost van der Westhuizen, Wavell Wakefield, JPR Williams, Keith Wood.
Chairman of Global Rugby Enterprises Limited, who own the International Rugby Hall of Fame, John Hart said: "We are delighted to have reached an agreement with the IRB to establish one definitive Rugby Hall of Fame. In doing so we have preserved the history of the International Rugby Hall of Fame by ensuring the induction of our 37 inductees who are not already in the IRB Hall of Fame. We wish the IRB Hall of Fame continued success."
The integration process will sit alongside the 2014 programme of inductions that will also recognise pioneers and greats from the women's game and some of the great characters from the beginning of the 20th century.
The full list of IRB Hall of Fame inductees, including those absorbed by the acquisition of the IRHF is: William Webb Ellis and Rugby School, Pierre de Coubertin, Danie Craven, Wilson Whineray, Gareth Edwards, John Eales, Joseph Warbrick and 1888 New Zealand team, Ned Haig and Melrose RFC, Jack Kyle, Hugo Porta, Philippe Sella, William Maclagan, Barry Heatlie, Ben Osler, Cliff Morgan, Tony O'Reilly, Frik de Preez, Syd Millar, Willie John McBride, Ian McGeechan, Jean Prat, Andre and Guy Boniface, Lucien Mias, Serge Blanco, Harry Vassall and Alan Rotherham, Cardiff RFC and Frank Hancock, David Gallagher, William Carpmael and The Barbarians FC, Mike Gibson, Ian Roger Vanderfield, Richard Littlejohn, Nick Shehadie, John Kendal-Carpenter, David Kirk, Brian Lochore, Nick Farr-Jones, Bob Dwyer, Francois Pienaar, George Christie, Rod MacQueen, Gareth Rees, Clive Woodward, Jonah Lomu, Jake White, Brian Lima, Agustin Pichot, Martin Johnson, John Smit, Gordon Tietjens, Ian and Donald Campbell, Yoshihiro Sakata, Romanian Rugby team, the USA Olympic team, Richard and Kennedy Tsimba, Alfred Hamersley, Vladimir Iliushin, Waisale Serevi, Gavin Hastings, Ronnie Dawson, Bleddyn Williams and Jack Matthews, David Bedell-Sivright, Robert Seddon (and the 1888 team), John Thornett, George Gregan, Mark Ella, Ken Catchpole, David Campese, Thomas Lawton, Colin Meads, George Nepia, Don Clarke, Sean Fitzpatrick, Michael Jones, Ian Kirkpatrick, John Kirwan, Fred Allen, Grant Fox, Terry McLean, Graham Mourie, Michael Lynagh, Tim Horan, Wavell Wakefield, Bill Beaumont, Jason Leonard, Jean-Pierre Rives, Jo Maso, Keith Wood, Tom Kiernan, Fergus Slattery, Andy Irvine, Gordon Brown, Bill McLaren, Gavin Hastings, Morne du Plessis, Hennie Muller, Naas Botha, Danie Gerber, Joost van der Westhuizen, Barry John, JPR Williams, Gerald Davies, Carwyn James, Mervyn Davies, Phil Bennett, Gwyn Nicholls, Ieuan Evans.
The Half a Game initiative is currently sweeping across Wales and proving a major success. The scheme aims to give every young player at least half a game every weekend. WRU TV recently visited a festival in Narberth where clubs have fully embraced the initiative.
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