One Season Wonders in Rugby

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DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 21: Andre Taylor of the Hurricanes looks to off-load during the round six Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Hurricanes at Forsyth Barr Stadium on March 21, 2014 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Rob Jefferies/Getty Images)

Most rugby fans will have their own list of who they regard as one season wonders in rugby. The guy who was on top of the rugby world for just one season.

One Season Wonders

With the help of some of our followers on social media, we have arrived at a shortlist of these one season wonders. By no means is this a scientific analysis of who the “biggest”one season wonder was and is not an exhaustive list as this can be a subjective discussion. Thank you to all of those who participated and suggested a player who they thought best described a one season wonder.

The Last Word on Rugby Fans Choices

The three players that were most suggested were New Zealander Andre Taylor, South African Jongi Nokwe and Englishman Mark van Ginsberg. Special mentions included are Rupeni Caucau, Sam Burgess and Wayne Fyvie. If you have a name you would like to throw in the hat, please feel free to comment below.

Andre Taylor

Rugby betting sites wouldn’t have given you great odds against Taylor being on of the most nominated players and this proved to be true in our social media survey. Taylor was the most nominated player of all.

Andre Taylor

Photo Credit: All Blacks Website

Although Taylor played 54 games for the Hurricanes, he ‘owned’ the 2012 Super Rugby season, playing at fullback and wing. He was the catalyst for many of the Hurricanes tries and was a real threat on attack. The rugby world was excited about this talent that had come of age. The 2013 and 2014 seasons did not live up to the expectations after that phenomenal year. Taylor drifted away from the game in New Zealand and signed a contract to play for the Japanese club Kintetsu Liners.

Taylor now hopes to qualify to represent Japan at Rugby World Cup 2019 in his adopted country.

Jongi Nokwe

The year 2008 will be the one that Nokwe remembers with the most fondness. Springbok coach Jake White backed the relatively inexperienced winger, famously saying:

There is no substitute for pace.

Nokwe only played four Tests in his career, three of those in 2008. He scored on debut against Argentina, but his moment of glory was scoring four tries against Australia in the Test match played at the then Ellis Park (now Emirates Airline Park).

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His final Test was against the British and Irish Lions, playing in the final Test of three. After that, his career started to fade away into obscurity.

Mark van Ginsbergen

It might seem strange for some to see a name here of a player who has played 193 games for his club (Wasps), but his circumstances do justify it. The New Zealander joined Wasps after being unsuccessful in securing a Super Rugby contract. The year 2005 was his big year in English rugby for two reasons. Firstly, he qualified to play for England on residency grounds. Secondly, his form, specifically his place kicking, earned him a call up to the England squad.

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He made his debut off the bench for England against Australia in 2005. His international career ended with that one cap.

Rupeni Caucau

Rupeni Caucaunibuca’s breakthrough season was for the Blues in the 2003 Super Rugby season. He played in 13 games and scored 15 tries.¬†Caucau was an immensely talented player who just never rose to the heights he could have. Irish rugby legend Brian O’Driscoll regarded Caucau as on of the very best players he has competed against.

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Various run-ins with authority as well as injury and illness left him with a paltry 7 Test caps.

Wayne Fyvie

Fyvie played 111 games for the Sharks, so his circumstances are similar to Vann Ginsbergen.¬† A proud and successful career, but his year of international¬† rugby glory was 1996, making a real impact and catching the eye of the Springbok selectors. He represented South Africa in 3 Test matches in 1996. Fyvie’s rugby career was replaced with a career in business and he became a very successful entrepreneur.

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Sam Burgess

The Burgess story is a curious one. After a long and successful career in rugby league, he switched over to rugby union in 2014 with the intention of playing for England during the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The biggest issue with Burgess was that no-one knew where to play him. Was he a blind side flank or a center?

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He ended up playing only 5 Tests for England, playing a part in England’s disastrous home Rugby World Cup.

These players are an example of how fickle sport can be. You can be on top of the world today and no-where tomorrow. They won’t be the first regarded as one season wonders in rugby and they won’t be the last.

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