What a remarkable weekend for brothers. All over the world, in different competitions, the brothers were playing some outstanding rugby. The present has a habit of imitating the past, so this sort of thing must have gone on many times before, but it still got us wondering.
The star turns of the weekend were the Savea brothers, playing for the Hurricanes. Wing Julian scored a couple of tries and again demonstrated what an accomplished footballer he is becoming. Comparisons are inevitably already being made with Jonah Lomu, but Lomu never became the defensively able footballer that Julian Savea is turning into.
On the flank not so little brother Ardie Savea (just n-n-nineteen) showed why some judges are matching him against Michael Jones at the same age. His athleticism is extraordinary and he will be a nightmare for opposition back rows and refs in years to come.
In the Heineken Cup Toulon fielded Stefan and Delon Armitage while Leicester had Tom and Ben Youngs on the pitch. As an aside Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe linked up much that was good about Toulon’s game and has become such a figure in world rugby that we have now almost forgotten brother Carl Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, one of the outstanding back five forwards of his generation.
Buzzing from Europe down to South Africa, there were four Whitelocks on the pitch in the match between the Sharks and the Crusaders. That is by no means a record. Six Spangheros turned out for Narbonne, including the mighty Walter and Claude, and five Clarke brothers, Don ‘the boot’ and Ian among them, once played for Waikato.
Up against the Crusaders was Jannie du Plessis, the Springboks prop, with brother Bismarck watching on from the stand. It really was a fraternal weekend.
All of which got us wondering. Such is the potential of Julian and Ardie, one day they may lay claim to be the greatest rugby playing brothers of them all. But who stands out over history?
Here are a list of names to consider: Armitage, Bergamasco, Boniface, Brooke, Calder, Clarke, Contepomi, du Plessis, Ella, Fernandez Lobbe, Going, Hastings, Lamont, Meads, Milne, Quinnell, Tuilagi, Underwood, Wallace, Whetton, Whitelock.
I am sure there are many, many more whom I have missed but here is my top five and, yes, this is up for huge discussion and I expect to change my mind next week.
1. Spanghero – Laurent, Walter, Jean-Marie, Claude, Guy, Gilbert. What a dynasty, these were hard, hard men who seemed to grow out of the harsh local terroir
2. Meads – Colin and Stan. Pinetree is one of the most famous All Blacks of all time, but Stan was also a very fine player
3. Ella – in 1981 Mark, Glen and Gary became the first three brothers to be chosen in the same Wallaby squad. Mark was a prince of the game, but the others weren’t half bad either
4. Boniface – Guy and Andre Boniface were two of the great craftsmen of French midfield play and would blanch to see some of the biff that passes for skill among the current Bleus
5. Tuilagi – Freddie, Henry, Alesana, Anitelia, Sanele, Manu. One Tuilagi is hard to stop, but six of them! Four have represented Samoa, one Samoa under-20, and the sixth England.
Who are your top rugby playing siblings of all time? Comments below…