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Age is no barrier

John GriffithsJune 9, 2014
Eric Evans is carried off the pitch in 1957 © PA Photos
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Who was England's oldest rugby captain? David Carter, England

The Sale hooker Eric Evans was the oldest man to skipper the England national side. He was 34 when he became captain for the match against Wales at Twickenham in January 1956 and forged a young side into Grand Slam winners the season later. He was still captain for an unbeaten Five Nations campaign in 1958.

His age during playing days was always something of a mystery. Official match programmes and press pen pictures showed his birthday as February 1 1925 - four years later than his actual birth. "It's amazing how much notice people take of the year one is born. A front-row forward does not come into his own until he is at least 28. Let us say the Press and the public got the year of my birth wrong," he later told the newspaper columnist, Jack Wood.

A fitness fanatic, Evans regularly trained with the Busby Babes at Old Trafford in the 1950s. His most exciting England match, he later said, was the last-minute 9-6 victory over Australia on February 1 1958: "Peter Jackson went over for the winning try when there was a minute to go. I couldn't have had a better birthday present."

Seven days later, after the week of the tragic Munich air disaster in which several of the Manchester United footballers died, he had to lead England again, against Ireland in the Five Nations.

His 13th and final England match as captain was a 3-all draw at Murrayfield the same season. He was then 37 years and 42 days old.

John Griffiths is a widely respected rugby historian and is the author of several sports books, a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and co-author of the IRB International Rugby Yearbook. He has provided insight for Scrum.com since 1999.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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Writer Bio

John Griffiths is a widely respected rugby historian and is the author of several sports books, a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and co-author of the IRB International Rugby Yearbook. He has provided insight for Scrum.com since 1999.

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