Rory Underwood

Why Do People Love Rory Underwood?

Rory Underwood MBE is a former English rugby union player who played wing for Leicester Tigers and England. He is considered one of the greatest wingers in rugby history and held the record for most tries scored for England for over 20 years.

Early Life and Rugby Career

Underwood was born on July 20, 1963 in Middlesbrough, England. He discovered rugby at an early age, playing for his school team and then joining the Leicester Tigers academy. He made his debut for the senior Leicester team in 1983 at age 20.

Underwood quickly established himself as one of the most electrifying wingers in England, using his blistering pace and evasive running to score tries for fun. He made his England debut in 1984 against Romania and went on to become one of England’s greatest ever try scorers.

Some of Underwood’s key rugby achievements include:

  • England’s record try scorer with 49 tries (later overtaken by Rowe)
  • Played in 3 Rugby World Cups (1987, 1991, 1995)
  • Part of the England grand slam team in 1991
  • Won 6 English premiership titles with Leicester
  • Inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2011

Broadcasting and Punditry Career

After retiring from rugby in 1998, Underwood transitioned into a successful broadcasting career as a pundit and commentator. He has worked for Sky Sports, ITV, and the BBC, providing expert analysis and insight on rugby matches.

His media presence and friendly on-screen persona have endeared him to rugby fans across Britain and helped cement his status as a rugby legend and icon.

Why Do People Love Rory Underwood?

There are several key reasons why Rory Underwood is so beloved by rugby fans and the British public in general:

Incredible Try Scoring Ability

First and foremost, people love Underwood for his incredible try scoring prowess on the rugby pitch. With his lightning speed and almost uncanny ability to find the try line, he brought immense excitement to any match he played in.

Underwood’s career try scoring statistics are simply astonishing:

CompetitionTries Scored

His England tally of 49 tries stood as a national record for over 20 years until it was finally broken by Rowe. And his overall career haul of 283 tries puts him among the highest try scorers the game has ever seen across club and international rugby.

Whether it was beating defenders with searing pace, grubbering through for himself, or finishing off brilliant team moves, Underwood had a knack for crossing the try line that thrilled spectators whenever he played.

Longevity at the Top Level

In an era before professionalism, when rugby was still an amateur game, Underwood’s longevity at the highest level was incredibly impressive. He played 85 tests for England over an 11-year span from 1984 to 1995, appearing in 3 separate Rugby World Cup tournaments.

Not only did Underwood play at the elite level for over a decade, he was consistently one of the best and most dangerous players on the pitch every time he took the field. His last match for England came at the 1995 World Cup at age 32, by which time most wingers have long since retired.

Underwood’s durability, athleticism, and dedication to reaching peak physical conditioning enabled him to defy conventional wisdom about a winger’s playing career and thrive at the top level into his 30s.

Character and Personality

While Underwood’s on-field achievements were immense, he is equally loved for his character, personality, and the way he has conducted himself off the pitch over the decades.

By all accounts, Underwood has always been an incredibly humble, down-to-earth person who never let his fame and success go to his head. He is renowned for his professionalism, strong work ethic, and ability to inspire and mentor young players coming through the ranks.

In the media, Underwood comes across as knowledgeable yet unpretentious, analyzing the game with insight while also being entertaining and humorous. His affable and likeable personality has made him a hit with fans and broadcasters alike.

Underwood was rightly awarded an MBE in 1992 for his services to rugby, reflecting the esteem in which he is held both as a player and person. He is considered a true ambassador for rugby and a fantastic role model for younger generations.

Impact and Legacy

Beyond just the tries, the longevity, and the character, Underwood is also beloved for the incredible impact and legacy he has had on English rugby as a whole. His achievements played a major part in growing the sport’s popularity and viewer numbers during his playing career.

In many ways, Underwood was the face of English rugby for over a decade. His name alone could attract new fans to watch and support the national team. His exploits in a red rose jersey are quintessentially English rugby folklore.

Since retiring, Underwood has remained deeply involved with the game through his media work, corporate ambassadorships, and various charitable initiatives. He has helped keep rugby firmly in the public consciousness and is widely respected as an elder statesman of the sport.

When Underwood’s name is mentioned, rugby fans of all ages can’t help but smile, instantly transported back to memories of his magical performances and thrilling try scoring moments. That kind of emotional connection and influence is incredibly rare, which is why he will be forever loved and revered in rugby circles.

The Incredible Rugby Journey of Rory Underwood

Underwood joined the Leicester academy in 1981 after showing prodigious talent and blistering pace as a youngster. He quickly rose through the ranks and made his senior debut for the Tigers in 1983 at just 20 years old.

Even in his debut season, Underwood’s try scoring prowess was evident as he dotted down 9 times. This was the start of an astonishing run where he hit double digit tries for Leicester in every single season for the next 15 years.

By the late 80s, he had truly established himself as the most prolific try scorer in English club rugby and was being dubbed as the “Flying Wing” and the “Prince of Pace” by fans and media.

England Call-Up and Grand Slam Glory

Underwood’s scintillating form for Leicester inevitably led to an England call-up in 1984 when he made his debut against Romania at age 21. He marked his first cap with two tries, giving the Twickenham faithful an early glimpse of what was to come.

While the late 80s were a fallow period for England, failing to win any titles, Underwood was a constant bright spark with his lethal finishing on the wing. His first ever try for England came against the formidable Wallabies in 1984.

Then in 1991, as part of England’s first ever Rugby World Cup semi-final team, Underwood played a starring role in their Grand Slam triumph, scoring 6 tries over the course of the tournament.

World Cup Star and Record Breaker

Underwood’s finest hour likely came at the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa where he was part of the England team that reached the semi-finals before losing to the eventual champion Springboks.

In England’s quarter-final victory over Australia, Underwood scored a breathtaking long-range try that is considered one of the greatest ever at a World Cup. Receiving the ball just outside his own 22, he chipped ahead and won an unbelievable foot race, dotting down to send Twickenham into raptures.

That five-pointer saw Underwood overtake Rory Underwood as England’s all-time leading try scorer with 49 tries, a record that would stand for over 20 years until it was finally eclipsed by Jonny May in 2022.

Underwood played his 85th and final test for England at that 1995 World Cup at age 32, bowing out in the semis as the team’s top try scorer and most capped winger ever at the time. It was a fitting farewell for one of England’s all-time great players.

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