George Gregan: Everything you need to know about the Wallabies legend
For a long time the defining Test player of the professional rugby era in Australia, George Gregan remains the country’s most-capped international and a part of one of the most successful-ever half-back pairings alongside Stephen Larkham.
The captain and scrum-half was also once the world’s most-capped Test player, amassing a remarkable 139 appearances over 14 seasons.
Master of a trademark reverse flip around the fringes which became known as ‘Gregan ball’ among amateur teams trying to replicate it around the world, Gregan will forever be remembered in Australia both for a try-saving tackle on All Black Jeff Wilson and a screamed ‘four more years’ at the All Black forwards as Australia won a World Cup semi-final.
Born in Zambia to an Australian father and Zimbabwean mother, Gregan moved to Australia at the age of two.
After initially playing rugby league in his infancy and youth, he turned to union once he was in the system at St. Edmund’s College in Canberra, also excelling at golf and cricket.
He later studied physical education at Canberra University; his physical condition and strength was the stuff of legend among Wallaby squads.
His middle name, Musarurwa, means ‘The Chosen One’.
Gregan was also a one-club man, a member of the inaugural Brumbies side in Super Rugby and playing only marginally fewer games for them than Australia.
A product of Australia’s renowned Institute of Sport, he had already played several times for ACT in the domestic competition before Super Rugby was established in 1996.
Five years later, he captained the Brumbies to a Super Rugby title against the Sharks under Eddie Jones. He won Super Rugby again three years later, although by this time he had relinquished captaincy duties at the Brumbies to focus on the Wallabies captaincy.
He finally departed the Brumbies after 11 years (and two more at ACT) to play a season at French club Toulon, before finishing his career in Japan.
Having debuted against Italy early in 1994 – in a match Australia only narrowly won – Gregan ensured an indelible place in Bledisloe Cup folklore in only his fourth Test when he tackled New Zealand’s Wilson, who was diving for the line, knocking the ball out of his hand and winning the game.
If the World Cup of 1995 was a disappointment, Gregan was by now established as Australia’s future number nine and played ever-increasing numbers of matches as professionalism and the advent of the new Tri-Nations meant Australia were now playing upwards of 10 Tests a year.
Having by then been elevated to vice-captaincy, Gregan was pivotal in Australia’s run to the 1999 World Cup in Wales, scoring a try in the quarter-final against the hosts and starting all the knockout matches.
He inherited the captaincy of Australia from John Eales and under new Wallabies coach Eddie Jones, who had been Gregan’s coach with the Brumbies. The pair led Australia through and towards the end one of its finest eras, including the heart-breaking loss to England in the 2003 World Cup Final.
If the tackle on Wilson in 1994 saw Gregan achieve hero status among the purists, his taunting of New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final, in which Australia upset the old enemy to take their place in the final, saw him achieve legend status among the fans.
Australia’s squad began to wane thereafter, and Jones left in 2005 but Gregan pushed on to the 2007 World Cup, setting several records in between, including the most-capped Test player and most-capped player as captain.
He is a hall-of-famer both in Australia and with World Rugby and is also a member of Australia’s Order of Australia for his career in the game.
He is married to Erica with three children, Max, Charlie and Jazz. Max was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2005, which led Gregan and his wife to set up the George Gregan foundation to help create neurology fellowships.
He is also now the owner of GG’s, a coffee shop chain, and a wider food and hospitality business.
In 2021 his business turned over A$10m and employed 280 people. He also earns well as a popular after-dinner speaking guest.
READ MORE: Richie McCaw: Everything you need to know about the All Blacks legend
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