Tuesday, October 19, 2010

USA Flyhalf the holder of many records in European Rugby

An amazing fact - the leading points scorer of all time in the Heineken Cup is not from Europe but from the USA. The same player is also the second highest points scorer in the history of the Six Nations and has scored more points for Ireland than any other player. This past weekend he scored 15 points as Munster scored a big win vs French giants, Toulon at Thomond Park in Limerick. He is a previous Six Nations Grand Slam winner and Heineken Cup winner too. The player in question is Munster and Irish international flyhalf, Ronan O'Gara who was born in San Diego, California in 1977 to Irish parents who were living in the United States at the time.

O'Gara, like any player, is able to play for a country that he was not born in based on the IRB player eligibility law that stipulates that a player can play for a country so long as he / she has lived there for three or more years. O'Gara had lived in Ireland for far longer than three years upon making his debut for Ireland vs Scotland in 2000. He became Ireland's first choice flyhalf during Rugby World Cup 2003 and kept his place until well after Rugby World Cup 2007. Today he is in a battle with Leinster flyhalf Johnny Sexton for the Irish number 10 shirt.

Thus far O'Gara has played 99 tests for Ireland and 2 for the British and Irish Lions which makes him the 12th most capped player of all time on par with South Africa's Victor Matfield and former Australian wing, David Campese. Of the players with more international appearances than O'Gara, only three still play - Irish prop John Hayes, South African captain John Smit and Irish captain Brian O'Driscoll. No player born in the United States has played more test rugby than Ronan O'Gara. Interestingly, he has only ever played one test match against the USA, back in 2000 and O'Gara scored 16 points.

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