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Catt bags a gong

Mike Catt, who has been awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours List, will forever be remembered as the man who booted the ball into touch to ensure England won the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

At that time Catt was 32 and the final was viewed as a last hurrah after a long and successful playing career.

Except that Catt was not finished - the utility back who had appeared for England at fly-half, centre, full-back and even on the wing just kept on going and finally hung up his boots in May this year at the ripe old age of 38.

He even appeared in the 2007 Rugby World Cup final, at 36 the oldest player ever to do, as his surprise emergence as a pivotal influence in Brian Ashton's squad helped England to the brink of repeating their success, only to be beaten by South Africa.

Catt was born in South Africa in 1971, and with the country banned from international competition due to the apartheid policy he moved to England, where his mother was from.

He started playing club rugby in the amateur days, joining Bath in 1992, and made his England debut in 1994 as a replacement for Rob Andrew.

He played for England off and on for the next 13 years, winning 75 caps in all and he played once for the British and Irish Lions, against South Africa.

Catt's long Bath career came to an end in 2004 and he went on to enjoy a remarkable swansong with London Irish where he was Guinness Premiership player of the season in 2006 and in 2009 became the oldest ever player to play in a Guinness Premiership final aged 37.

Catt, now London Irish's attack coach, said: "I am delighted and honoured to have been awarded an OBE. I have been fortunate to have had an enjoyable and successful career in rugby and to now be recognised in such a way makes me feel very privileged.

"I would like to thank my family along with everyone who has supported and encouraged me throughout my career."


From Belfast Telegraph