|Born||Knebworth, September 1, 1968|
|Internationals||37 caps between 1991 and 1996|
|Inducted||England vs Ireland (March 15, 2003)|
Irishman Simon Geoghegan has been inducted on to the World Rugby Museum’s Wall of Fame courtesy of his exploits at Twickenham, Geoghegan was an Irish winger who made quite an impact at Twickenham.
In fact Simon Geoghegan had a hand, and both feet, in England’s downfall in 1994.
It was a famous Ireland victory since no one had beaten England at Twickenham since Wales in 1988 – oddly it was a winger on that day, two-try Adrian Hadley, who did for the Red Rose on that occasion.
If you listen to the solicitor, whose rugby career was ended prematurely by a chronic toe injury leaving him with 37 Ireland caps, he will tell you that he did just two things in that game.
“In those days as a winger,” said Geoghegan, “you might get one pass in five matches and then you were expected to be able to do something, rounding a half dozen defenders to score a try.”
He actually had more touches than that, though. When Ireland won a scrum Michael Bradley flung the ball out, fullback Conor O’Shea and centre Maurice Field set off on dummy runs and with the white line thus stretched, the ball found its way to Geoghegan out on the left. He scorched outside Tony Underwood, then fixed England fullback Jon Callard to cross for a wonderful try.
The odd thing was, with so many Bath players in the England squad, that no one picked up on the move. As Geoghegan explained: “Bath had pulled that move on us at London Irish a couple of seasons earlier.
“George Hook was our coach at Irish at the time and we worked on it and developed it a little. Then, because of George’s involvement with Ireland at that time, the national side also practised it. And when we put it into practice it came off.”
Geoghegan’s try and Eric Elwood’s conversion nosed Irish ahead by a point, but then came the clincher. Geoghegan gathered a Callard chip, shimmied and swerved his way through the chasing Englishmen before launching a kick some 40 metres upfield.
With his electric pace the Ireland winger arrived at the ball a split second after Rob Andrew had fallen on it.
Geoghegan dived on to the England fly-half and tussled for possession and French referee Patric Thomas awarded Ireland a penalty after deeming that Andrew should have released the ball. Elwood’s kick and Ireland subsequent tenacious defence ensured that England were denied victory.
But 14 years down the line Geoghegan admitted the referee got it wrong. “It should have been a penalty to England,” the former London Irish and Bath player.
“I did not stay on my feet and should have been penalised for that.” He wasn’t, and the rest is history.
And at least it meant Geoghegan, born in Barnet, in North London, but a proud Irishman for all that, had enjoyed what was in those days a rare thing – victory over England, and on their home turf to boot, no mean feat.
Geoghegan was fond of the Twickenham of those days. “I have been to the new stadium and it is a great place, but I think there was a better atmosphere in the old stadium.
“The crowd was a lot closer to the pitch. It was a bit like Lansdowne Road, where, when you were pushed into touch you could pick individual faces in the crowd and I remember an Ireland-England match, it was 1993, when I pulled off one of Brian Moore’s boots and threw it into the crowd and they would not give it back straightaway. I remember him remonstrating with them. It did come back to him eventually.”
But Twickenham ancient or modern is still special according to Geoghegan. “It was always a hard place for visiting sides to play, but it is great to be able to say you have played there.”
And as for his induction onto the World Rugby Museum’s Wall of Fame, an honour reserved for 50 Englishmen and 50 from visiting countries who have all achieved something at the ground, Geoghegan is unequivocal. “It is a great honour.”
Article by Dai Llewellyn