Achieving a solitary cap in professional rugby is normally down to taking advantage of an injury crisis, hitting a rich vein of form in a position of test weakness at just the right time, or sadly being blighted by injury into the early stages of your career.
We’ve put together a team of test players that only ever received one cap. It’s a mixture of grafters, chancers and some youngsters just unlucky with injuries.
For the purposes of this exercise we have only picked players who are unlikely to ever play for their country again or those who are now retired. Individuals such as Joe Simpson and Leroy Houston have not been counted for these reasons.
Without further ado, here is the team.
The International Rugby ‘One Cap Wonder’ XV
1) Cameron Blades
Loosehead Blades featured in only one test for the Wallabies back in July 1997, when Australia defeated England, a game the hosts won 25 – 6.
After his playing days had finished, the former prop moved into coaching and is currently the Waratah’s set-piece coach, replacing Mario Ledesma who is now working full-time with the national side.
2) Mark Bell
In an era when Australia had considerable depth at hooker, including the likes of Phil Kearns, Peter Palmer, David Nucifora, Michael Foley and Marco Caputo, it was difficult for Bell to get a look in. However, his opportunity came in 1996 when he started against Canada for his country. The home side won 74 – 9, but Bell never featured for Australia again.
3) Denis Avril
Anyone who is familiar with French rugby will of course know Biarritz legend Denis Avril. The tighthead made 169 appearances for his club, winning three Top 14 titles with the side.
Despite his fantastic club record, his only cap was as part of a 37 – 31 defeat to Australia on 2nd July 2005 in Brisbane.
4) Scott Morgan
Welshman Morgan enjoyed a long and glorious career in domestic rugby, making 89 appearances for Cardiff Blues and 30 appearances for the Dragons, plus time spent at Bristol and Leeds – with whom he won the Powergen Cup in 2005.
In 2007 Morgan made his one-and-only appearance his country, in a 31 – 0 defeat to Australia in Brisbane.
5) Kevin O’Neill
Former Crusader and Chiefs player O’Neill played his only game for New Zealand’s All Blacks in Carisbrook on 12th July 2008, replacing the injured Ali Williams in the 28th minute.
Sadly for the Te Aroha-born player he couldn’t prevent his team losing out to the Springboks 30 – 28 – the first time South Africa had won in Carisbrook.
6) Warren Britz
Powerful South Africa back rower Britz played in only one test for the Springboks at a time when the side had considerable depth at flanker. He started against Wales in Bloemfontein, a game the Springboks easily won 34 – 19.
The former Sharks player later went on to play for Newcastle Falcons in the Premiership.
7) Sam Harding
New Zealander Harding wore the famous black jersey back in 2002 when he started at openside against Fiji alongside Reuben Thorne and Taine Randell, which New Zealand won 68 – 18.
Later in his career Harding moved to Northampton Saints, having won a Super Rugby title with the Crusaders in 2005.
8) Fabrice Lalanne
Making his only appearance for France against Romania in Bucharest, the US Dax and Stade Montois player helped his team to a 20 – 67 win, but never played for Les Bleus again.
In fact, Lalanne is one of only a few one cap wonders at number eight in the professional era.
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9) Kevin Senio
New Zealander Senio made his first and only appearance for the All Blacks as a replacement for Piri Weepu during the 34 – 24 win over Australia during the 2005 Tri Nations.
After spending most of his career battling for starting spots with an array of All Black scrum halves, Senio left his home country to play for Clermont Auvergne in France.
10) Mike Delany
Newcastle Falcons’ fly-half Delany earnt one cap for the All Blacks back in 2009, playing against Italy in Milan.
In a game in which New Zealand struggled to impose themselves (leading only 14 – 3 at half-time), five Luke McAlister penalties were enough to see the team take the victory 20 – 6.
Delany spent time in both Japan and France before signing with the Falcons.
11) Frank Halai
One-cap wonder Halai has been a revelation since he signed for Wasps in January of last year, but despite being a multi-talented player the winger only featured for the All Blacks against Japan in a 54 – 6 victory in Tokyo back in 2013.
Given his age and New Zealand’s policy on foreign-based players, Halai is unlikely to ever played for the All Blacks again.
12) Regan King
Scarlets fans will probably remember King as one of their best ever players, and if it had not been for his solitary cap for the All Blacks back in 2002 he would almost certainly have played for the country he spent 11 years plying his trade in.
On 30th October 2015 King played alongside his son Jacob Cowley for the Scarlets.
His only cap came against Wales back in 2002 at the Millennium Stadium, before injuries took their toll and stalled his international career.
13) Mark Bartholomeusz
Australian Bartholomeusz was part of the ACT Brumbies team that won the Super Rugby title back in 2004.
Before joining Saracens, the Wallabies centre played all of 2 minutes and 33 seconds against Italy – one of the shortest international careers in the history of rugby.
14) Denis Hurley
Munster’s Hurley has only ever represented his country once: against the USA back in 2009 as a replacement.
A consistent utility back for his province, making 166 appearances for Munster and starting during the victorious Heineken Cup final of 2008, the Irishman also earnt 9 caps for the nation’s A team.
15) Ben Atiga
Auckland born and bred Atiga made one appearance for the All Blacks, during the 2003 World Cup against Tonga after being called up as an injury replacement for Ben Blair.
As well as representing the New Zealand Sevens team and winning three NPC titles with Auckland, Atiga later signed for Edinburgh and played two seasons in Scotland before retiring due to degenerative arthritis in his hip.
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena
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