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The Premiership ‘Old Timers’ XV

Accusations have at times been thrown at England’s Premiership that it is a southern hemisphere ‘graveyard’ where ageing Kiwis, Aussies or South Africans head to in the last few years of their careers, but exactly how true is that?

We’ve put together a team of the oldest players in each position to have played in the Premiership.

Roger Murtaugh from the Lethal Weapon films had a line that he repeated right through all four movies: “I’m too old for this sh*t”, but all of these players in the team below were determined to keep playing for as long as they could, such was their love for the game.

1) Tony Windo, Worcester (39 years, 10 days), v Newcastle, 10 May 2008.

Windo is the kind of man that is sorely missed at Sixways right now: someone who is willing to constantly fight for his club and sticks with them through thick and thin. Windo joined Worcester in 1999 and was there when they were promoted and indeed when they were sadly relegated.

His love for the club meant he played for the Warriors until the age of 39 years old.

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2) Graham Dawe, Sale Sharks (39 years, 16 days) v Saracens, 20 September 1998.

Dawe, who spent most of his career at Bath before signing up for Sale and playing in the Premiership in the ’97-’98 season, was over 39 years old in his last appearance in the league.

Over his career Dawe earnt five caps before England, playing his last test against Samoa at the age of 36.

Graham is also a farmer.
The greatest photo of Graham Dawe ever; he is also a farmer as well as a rugby player.

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3) Andy Deacon, Gloucester (38 years, 282 days) v Bath, 8 May 2004.

Deacon made 93 appearances in the Premiership in the last few years of his career. Loved by Gloucester fans and a true Shed legend, Deacon is officially the oldest ever Premiership tighthead, beating Leicester and England prop Julian White by nine days.

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4) Brad Thorn, Leicester (40 years, 109 days) v Bath, 23rd May 2015.

Having achieved so much in his extensive career, both as an All Black and playing rugby league for Australia, as well as at Leinster, it seemed unlikely that Thorn could do much more. However, at the age of 39 he signed for Leicester Tigers and by the end of the season became the oldest ever Premiership player.

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5) Gareth Llewellyn, Brisol (39 years, 4 days) v Bath, 2nd March 2008.

As well as being one of Wales’ most capped players, Llewellyn was able to enjoy a domestic career that lasted from the late 80s up to 2009. During his time at Bristol he became one of the oldest ever Premiership players.

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6) Daniel Browne, London Welsh (36 years, 23 days) v Northampton, 9th May 2015.

London Welsh’s Browne joined the club back in 2012 and was part of their squad as they were twice promoted to the Premiership. The New Zealander is from a cosmopolitan background having an Irish father, Samoan mother and able to play for England via the residency rule.

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7) Serge Betsen, Wasps (36 years, 339 days) v Saracens, 27th February 2011.

You might have been expecting Neil Back to be starting here, however he was a couple of hundred days younger when he played his last game for Leicester than French openside Betsen was for Wasps back in 2011.

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8) Nick Easter, Harlequins (37 years, 266 days) v Exeter, 7th May 2016.

Minty recently announced his retirement from rugby, but his story is quite an unusual one. He didn’t start playing for Orrell until the age of 23 before signing for Quins aged 26. Despite being a late starter to professional rugby, Easter went on to win 54 caps for England and played for Harlequins 281 times.

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9) Peter Stringer, Sale Sharks (38 years, 146 days) v Newcastle, 7 May 2016.

The man who apparently never ages, Stringer signed a new one-year deal with Sale back in February of this year. In his last game of the season just gone, Stringer was well over 38 years and could go on to rival Brad Thorn’s record as the oldest ever Premiership player. However, he will face serious competition for the number nine jersey from Wales’ Mike Phillips at Sale this year.

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10) Mike Catt, London Irish (37 years, 241 days) v Leicester, 16th May 2009.

Catt’s last game as a fly-half came in the Premiership final of 2009, where Leicester won 10 – 9. How times have changed for recently-relegated London Irish.

Catt was older than the likes of Gordon Ross, Rob Andrew, Stephen Bachop and even Andy Goode.

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11) Rory Underwood, Bedford (35 years, 302 days) v Harlequins, 17 April 1999

England record-breaker Underwood also played in the Premiership in the last few years of his career for Bedford Blues. He was almost 36 years old when he played his last game, pretty amazing for a winger.

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12) Mike Umaga, Rotherham (38 years, 79 days) v Newcastle, 8 May 2004.

Mike Catt almost made it into the team for a second time, but missed out by being just a week younger than Rotherham’s Mike Umaga – brother of All Blacks legend Tana.

Mike’s son Jacob has recently signed for Wasps from Leicester and is an England U18 international. Could a member of one of rugby’s most famous New Zealand families go on to play for the senior side at Twickenham?

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13) Frank Bunce, Bristol (37 years, 266 days), v Harlequins, 28th October 1999.

All Black Bunce signed for Bristol in the last season of his career before retiring, making himself the oldest outside centre to have ever played in the Premiership.

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14) Mark Cueto, Sale Sharks (35 years, 141 days) v Exeter, 16th May 2015.

As well as being one of the highest try scorers in the Premiership, Cueto was also the second oldest winger after Rory Underwood, playing for Sale at over 35 years of age. Not a bad career, eh?

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15) John Schuster, Harlequins (36 years) v Leicester, 29 December 1999.

Schuster was a dual-code international, playing for both the All Blacks and Samoa as a union player, as well as Western Samoa in rugby league. He played for Harlequins in the Premiership at the tail-end of his career.

Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.