Tigers legend Garforth could lose 'Golden Oldie' tag
27 April 2012 12:08pm
Darren Garforth (far left) celebrating in 2002 with his front row colleagues
Darren Garforth played in three Heineken Cup finals with Leicester Tigers and has two winners' medals on his mantlepiece.
More than that, the former England prop holds the distinction of being the oldest player to win the Heineken Cup and is one of only 18 players to achieve back-to-back wins. But all that could be about to change over the next month.
There are two players in action in this weekend's Heineken Cup semi-finals who can wipe Garforth out of the record books if they can help their teams go all the way and win European rugby's top prize at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday, 19 May.
Ulster Rugby full back Stefan Terblanche only came to Belfast to help out for a few months after Jared Payne got injured, but the former Springbok star has become an important part of the back line. He will be 37 on 2 July.
Leinster Rugby brought New Zealand World Cup winner Brad Thorn over to Dublin from Japan on a short-term contract. He is already 37 and holds the distinction of being both the oldest layer to play in a Rugby World Cup final and the oldest winner at 36 years, 262 days in October last year.
Garforth was 36 years and 46 days old when he helped the Tigers beat Munster Rugby at the Millennium Stadium in the 2002 Heineken Cup final. So, if we get an all-Irish Heineken Cup final, Garforth will lose his status as the tournament's oldest winner one way or the other.
Both Edinburgh Rugby and ASM Clermont Auvergne will have something to say about who makes it to Twickenham Stadium for the 17th Heineken Cup final. If the centenary celebrating French side make it through to their first final they will have 35-year-old Nathan Hines in their ranks.
The 77 times capped Scottish lock is aiming to become only the second player to win the Heineken Cup with different teams in successive seasons. Philippe Carbonneau was the first when he won with Toulouse in 1996 and Brive a year later.
Hines, who has played for three of this year's semi-finalists, was a winner with Leinster in Cardiff last season and will go head-to-head with Thorn, who has replaced him in the second row, in a battle of the giants . . . and oldies!
"If we can deprive them of the ball we can win, but they have made great progress in the scrum and they have some new players who I think have made them even stronger than last season," Hines told the Irish Sun.
"I've told my team-mates that while Leinster might have a bit more experience than us at this level of the competition, we have players who are used to big events, like the World Cup final, so it's pretty balanced.
"It's a special game for me, but I've played against some of these players before at international level. They will be ready, the Heineken Cup is their main goal of the season.
"I've had some texts from Jono Gibbs and Isa Nacewa, and I had a message from Brian O'Driscoll on Twitter, and they were wishing me good luck, nothing bad. I also had Leo Cullen on the phone but we didn't talk about the game.
"I simply said to him that his wife - who is expecting a baby - must be afraid that it will have the same head as him! We just joked, that's all."
The directors of ERC voted unanimously at a Board meeting to postpone all decisions including the release of further instalments of ERC's distributable central revenues to the six shareholder countries until 19 February next when the Board will meet again to reconsider the issue.