Rugby Players You Forgot Existed

Rugby Players You Forgot Existed
By Conor Neville
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In honour of the Irish rugby team returning to its 1990's form in this year's Six Nations (one win in Cardiff and finishing second bottom in the tournament) we've decided to recall some of the men who flew the flag for Irish rugby during those dark days...


Matt Mostyn

An Australian-Irish recruit, Mostyn played 6 times for Ireland without ever playing a Five Nations match. Played every game in the 1999 World Cup. He had a highly respectable (for the time) 50-50 win-loss ratio in an Irish shirt, however the wins came against Romania, the USA and a pre-World Cup friendly in Landsdowne Road against Argentina. It was in the Argentina game that he nabbed a hat-trick, signalling that he could have been the future of Irish rugby. His international career was finished within a couple of months. Was a great servant for Connacht, soldiering away at the Sportsground until 2008

Tom Tierney

Given his first cap shortly before the 99 World Cup, Tierney survived the defeat to Argentina in Lens by one game, a hammering against England in the first match of the 2000 Six Nations. Before the following game against Scotland the new batch were of Munster Heineken Cup stars were introduced to the team en masse and Tierney's Ireland career was over. Played for the Leicester Tigers between 2002 and 2004.

Maurice Field

The Ulster centre made his debut that glorious day in Twickenham in 1994. Was employed as a decoy runner for Simon Geoghegan's try. Thereafter, he enjoyed the typical 1990s Ireland career, winning a few games against Wales and losing to everybody else before his seventeenth and final cap in a heavy defeat in Murrayfield in the 1997 Five Nations

Vinnie Cunningham

Scored two tries and starred in one of the most spectacular (and also most forgotten) moral victories in Irish sporting history, a 24-21 loss to New Zealand in Carisbrook in 1992. Was called up for the Lions squad in 1993 after injuries.

Niall Malone

Born in Leeds, Malone was the fly half for Ireland's opening two games in the 1993 Five Nations in which Ireland played abysmally. He was replaced after that by a Galwegian called Eric Elwood who led Ireland to victory in Cardiff and then a 17-3 romp at home to England. Malone did steer Ireland to a victory in his third and final game in late 1994, albeit in a game against the United States.



Justin Bishop

Hung around long enough to see Ireland winning a few games, Bishop was one of Gatland's foreign contingent. He was, however a second stringer by the time that started happening. Played from Ireland between 1998 and 2003.


Conor McGuinness

McGuinness was Ireland's first choice scrum half between 1997 and 1999. Not a vintage time for Irish rugby. Was dropped shortly before the 1999 World Cup for Tom Tierney



Angus McKeen

The Drogheda born prop made one substitute appearance against Romania in a pre-World Cup match in 1999. This performance has however remained curiously memorable in the eyes of certain PJ Browne of our writing staff who was adamant that he appear on this list. On the bright side he has a one hundred percent winning record in an Irish jersey, extremely rare for the 1990s.


Dion O Cuinneagain

The South African forward with the memorable name was a mainstay of the team between 1998 and 2000. Lost more games than he won like almost all players from that era, and if you exclude Georgia, Romania, the USA and Italy that looks even worse. He has, however, got that obligatory away victory in Wales under his belt playing in Wembley in 1999.


Ross Nesdale

Kiwi hooker who played between 1997 and 1999. Warren Gatland had less Irish accents in his Irish teams in 98 and 99 than Jack Charlton had in 1990. Helped to 13 caps because Keith Wood kept getting injured.

Jim Staples

Born in Bermondsey Staples managed 26 caps between 1991 and 1997, which in the amateur era, made him almost an ever present. A creative full back who, like Simon Geoghegan, was unfortunate to play in a fairly useless team for most of his career Staples scored a fantastic try in Cardiff in 1991 and set up a magnificent try for Hickie in 1997.

Terry Kingston

His name makes him sound like a Ballymena hooker but he's as Munster as drisheen and Musgrave Park, Kingston played 30 times for Ireland in the barren years between 1987 and 1996 when the country was only interested in soccer. High points include beating England in 93 and 94



Phil Danaher

Shockingly, Sportsfile have no images of this Munster legend, apart from this 1995 team photo (Phil is third from left in the front row). Danaher was an ever present between 1988 and 1995, going on every drink-sodden and shockingly unprofessionally run tour the alickadoos organised in that time. Most impressively of all, Danaher managed to play for the Kerry minors, the Limerick senior footballers and Feale Rangers in the Kerry championship.


Gabriel Fulcher

Born in Aldershot, Fulcher played 20 times in the Second Row between 1994 and 1998. Needless to say, every half-serious match he won in an Irish jersey was won against Wales.


Niall Woods

Looking every inch like a surgeon who plays a bit of rugby, Woods was in fact a former Sky Sports executive and current President of the Players Union. The winger earned 8 caps for Ireland, well spread out between 1994 and 1999. He lost six of those games and won two. The two wins were against Wales.








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