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Rugby World Cup

With the Rugby World Cup set to kick off in France on 8th September, we’ve been reflecting on some of the greatest World Cup moments and achievements by some of our speakers.

Benny Lawrence
24 May 2023
Sport

Our Greatest Rugby World Cup Moments 

With the Rugby World Cup set to kick off in France on 8th September, we’ve been reflecting on some of the greatest World Cup moments and achievements by some of our speakers. From last-minute winning drop goals to some of the greatest stats in the sport, these moments have gone down in history as some of the most memorable and dramatic in sport. To get into the spirit of this years’ World Cup, we’ve put together a selection of some of the biggest and best moments of previous World Cups. For more information on how to book any of the below rugby legends, or for more suggestions, contact info@eveolve-agency.co.uk. We’re always happy to help!

 

Jonny Wilkinson CBE – Scored the winning drop goal in extra time of the 2003 Rugby World Cup Final

Jonny Wilkinson Headshot

Jonny Wilkinson is one of the most iconic English Rugby players of all time.

He played 91 times for England, which made him one of the most capped players to ever represent the red rose. Jonny was a formidable fly-half and even also holds the record for the most points scored by an England player, with a staggering total of 1,179. In addition to this, he played for the British & Irish Lions six times and in 2016, was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame. 

During the 2003 World Cup final against Australia, Jonny scored the crucial drop goal against Australia in extra time. This resulted in England being crowned world champions for the first time ever and is regarded as the most memorable moment in the history of English Rugby. Following his retirement in 2014, Jonny has gone onto be an extremely popular TV pundit and speaker. Having suffered with anxiety and depression throughout his life, this is also a popular topic for his speaking engagements.

As one of England’s best-ever players, Jonny makes for a perfect speaker ahead of this year’s World Cup. With experience both on the field and commentating off the field, he can provide his insights and expectations for the upcoming tournament like no other.

 

Jason Robinson OBE – Scored England’s only try in the final to help secure the 2003 Rugby Union World Cup in Sydney, Australia

Jason Robinson Headshot

Jason Robinson is a former England international rugby player who represented his country in both codes of the game – Union and League.

Born and bred in Yorkshire, Jason began his rugby career as a child and signed for league side Wigan Warriors. He made his debut in 1991 as a teenager and went onto win seven league titles and five Challenge Cups with the team. Domestically, he then joined Bath for 13 games before returning to Wigan. Jason also played 12 times for Great Britain and seven times for England and became the first-ever black player to captain the England rugby union team. 

In 1996 he got his first taste of rugby union and in 2000, decided to make the move from league to union permanently. He signed for Sale Sharks and helped the team win the Premiership title in 2006 and two European Challenge Cups. Jason played every game for England during the 2003 World Cup and was part of the team that made history by winning the iconic trophy for the first time. He announced his retirement in 2007 following over 15 years in the sport. Since then, he has worked as a coach at the grassroots level for the RFL and was the head coach of his former club Sale Sharks for the 2009/10 season. In 2021, he re-joined the club as a non-executive director.

It is rare to find a rugby international who has experience in both rugby union and league. As well as his stellar career, Jason can also discuss the differences between the two codes of the game, and his transition from league to union in great depth. 

 

Shane Williams MBE – Wales’s record try scorer in Rugby World Cups with 10

Shane Williams Headshot

Shane Williams MBE is one of the greatest Welsh rugby players of all time.

Shane grew up in the Welsh valleys and despite initially being told that he was too small to play rugby, he went onto become one of the most talented players of his age group. He began his career at Neath and then moved to Osprey’s in 2003, where he proved to be a crucial player for the team. He spent nine years with Osprey’s and won four Celtic Leagues and one Anglo-Welsh Cup with the team. 

In 2000, Shane had his first international call-up and in 2005, played a key role for his country in Wales’s Six Nations Grand Slam victory. He played his final game for Wales in 2011 and retired from the team as one of the best players to ever pull on a redshirt. In 2012, he moved to Japan to play for Mitsubishi and spent three years there as a player-coach. Shane retired from the sport in 2015 having played 87 times for his country and scoring 290 points throughout his career. In 2016, he was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame and now works as a popular speaker.

Being able to discuss the different styles between rugby in the UK and Asia, Shane is one of the most sought-after rugby speakers in the industry. A legend for his country, his tales never fail to captivate his audiences. 

 

Nigel Owens MBE – The only Welsh referee during the 2007 World Cup

Nigel Owens Headshot

Nigel Owens is one of the world’s most famous rugby union referees who has officiated some of the biggest rugby matches in the world.

Well known for his strict but fair style of officiating, Nigel Owens won respect from both players and fans throughout his career and is now one of the most influential LGBT personalities in sport. Nigel made his debut in European rugby in a European Challenge Cup match between London Irish and Piacenza in 2001. He then went onto officiate his first Test match in 2003 and made his debut at the Rugby World Cup in 2007. In 2015, he refereed the Rugby World Cup final between Australia and New Zealand, becoming the second Welshman to ever do so. This was in the same year that he also won the World Rugby Referee Award. 

Throughout a career spanning almost 20 years, Nigel also officiated in Six Nations and Heineken Cup finals, before retiring from the international stage in 2020 as the most-capped official of all time. His career was not plain-sailing however and in 2007 his personal life made headlines as he publicly came out as gay. Having struggled with his sexuality for most of his life, Nigel suffered with bulimia, asked a doctor if he could be chemically castrated, and even considered suicide. His announcement was mostly met with support; however, he did experience instances of homophobic abuse. Despite this, in 2015, he was named ‘Gay Personality of the Decade’ by Stonewall and ia a popular personality on Welsh TV presenting a whole host of primetime shows. He has also continued to officiate in the Pro14 and at club level in Wales and works as a pundit.

As someone with experience from a different angle on the field, Nigel is an incredibly popular speaker. He can discuss both his refereeing career and mental health struggles he faced to educate any audience. 

 

Sir Clive Woodward – Guided England to World Cup victory in 2003

Sir Clive Woodward Headshot

Sir Clive Woodward is a former professional rugby player, coach, and one of the greatest sporting figures in English history.

Clive began his career in the sport as a player back in Rugby’s amateur era. He played for Harlequins, Loughborough, and Leicester Tigers and won 21 England caps. Following his playing career, he turned his eye to coaching and went onto become work internationally, coaching the England team. He guided the country to rugby immortality and World Cup glory in 2003; and spent 7 years as their coach, also leading them to a Six Nations Grand Slam. 

His talent for coaching did not stop with rugby however and in 2005, he also became the Performance Director for the Southampton Football team, and the elite performance director of the British Olympic Association. For the latter, he was responsible for helping London win the 2012 Olympic bid. Clive is also the founder of Hive Learning – a digital platform that helps businesses to learn together and thrive.

An exceptional speaker in rugby, business, high performance and leadership to name a few, Clive’s experience is transferable to any walk of life. This makes him a force on the speaking circuit.


Martin Johnson CBE – Captained England’s winning team at the World Cup in 2003

Martin Johnson Headshot

Martin Johnson CBE is one of the greatest rugby sporting leaders of all time.

Domestically, Martin spent his entire career playing for the Leicester Tigers. With the team he won five Premiership titles and two Heineken Cups in what is widely considered the club’s best-ever era. He is also regarded as one of the Leicester Tigers’ greatest-ever players, guiding them to countless silverware both domestically and in Europe. 

Internationally, Martin also had a stellar career and he captained England to the historic 20-17 win over Australia at the 2003 Rugby World, crowning the team winners of the tournament. In the same year, he led the team to win the Six Nations Grand Slam. From 2008-2011 Martin became coach of the England team before stepping down from the post.

With experience as both an England player and coach, Martin has had a unique career in the sport. Able to discuss leadership tactics and what it takes to strive for success, he is exceptional in grasping the attention of any audience he speaks to.


Brian O’Driscoll – Along with Paul O’Connell and Rory Best, has appeared in four World Cups, the most by an Irishman

Brian O Driscoll Headshot

Brian O’Driscoll is a former Ireland and British & Irish Lions captain who is regarded as one of the greatest rugby players of all time.

Growing up in a family of rugby heroes Brian followed on the path of success. His father Frank played two matches for his country, and his cousins, Barry and John were both also Ireland internationals. Brian made his domestic debut for Leinster in 1999 and proceeded to spend 15 years, and his entire career, with the team. Here, he won a whole host of honours as well as four league titles and three European Cups. Brian’s international debut came in 1999 and a year later he scored a hattrick in a Six Nations win over France. This was Ireland’s first victory in Paris since the 1970s. 

In 2003, he became the country’s captain on a permanent basis and under his leadership, the team won two Six Nations titles, including a Grand Slam in 2009 – its first in 61 years. Brian became the all-time top Six Nations try scorer and was named Six Nations Player of the Year on three occasions. In 2016, he was also inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame. Throughout his career, Brian played over 100 games for his country. Since his retirement in 2014, he has worked as a popular TV pundit for BT Sport and ITV and a speaker.

With a remarkable career as both a record-breaking player and captain, Brian is one of the most requested speakers on the circuit. His tales of triumph are guaranteed to leave you inspired and in awe of his achievements. 


Gareth Thomas CBE – Last test match was also his 100th test match in the 2007 World Cup against Fiji 

Gareth Thomas Headshot

Gareth Thomas is a former international rugby legend, is one of the most influential LGBT+ personalities in the UK, and an inspirational mental health campaigner.

Gareth is one of Wales’s greatest ever rugby players who represented his side on 100 occasions and scored 200 points. He made his international debut in 1995 against Japan, and in 1999, made history by scoring four tries in a match against Italy. His success continued and in 2007, he broke Gareth Llewellyn’s record and become Wales’s most capped ever player, being regarded as one of the greatest players to ever represent his country. His career was not always easy however and in 2009, he publicly announced that he was gay, making him the first British rugby player to ever do so. Gareth had always struggled with his sexuality and identity and hid it from the wider world for years. In 2001, he even married a woman to keep his true self masked. In 2010 however, he was voted the most influential gay person in the UK by The Independent and also received a Stonewall’s ‘Hero of the Year’ award. Gareth again made headlines in 2019 when he announced that he had been diagnosed with HIV, with undetectable status meaning he is not infectious. Since the diagnosis, he has campaigned for more awareness of the condition and vows to break the stigma associated with the illness.

Both a rugby legend and an inspirational sporting figure, Gareth is an unbelievably popular speaker. Able to delve into the depths of his playing career, mental health struggles and acts of resilience, he had helped many who have struggled similarly over the years.

We’re hope you’re now just as excited for this years’ Rugby World Cup as we are! To book one of these remarkable rugby legends, or for more suggestions for your next event, get in touch today by emailing us on info@evolve-agency.co.uk. We’re happy to help!


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