Updated: Dec 18, 2020
With the club game exploding back onto our screens last weekend, we thought we would take a look back through the history books to discover who are the top 'Appearance Makers in Premiership History'. It's impressive to rack up caps internationally, with the dream of hitting a century separating the best players of our time, but to constantly perform at such a high level for your club, season after season, is just as impressive of a feat. Let's dive into it...
5. Charlie Hodgson (Sale Sharks, Saracens)
Charge-down Charlie was an absolute force within the Premiership for his entire tenure. When Sale were at their best, he was at the helm, and when Saracens first looked like world beaters, he steered the ship. Hodgson is best known for his insanely accurate hoof, becoming the Premiership top points scorer as a result as well as being one of the most tactically astute fly half's to ever grace the game. We always felt that he was underrated, performing exceptionally well for a torrid England team and being remembered for some lousy tackling against dominant southern hemisphere sides; however, when we look back, was it England's lack of depth at openside that meant Charlie was always in the firing line? Charlie would make most 'all time' lists for best fly half's to play for England and deservedly so! He's also responsible for the rearing and introduction of Owen Farrell, who struggled to displace the veteran even in his last campaign!
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4. George Chuter (Saracens, Leicester Tigers)
Whenever George stormed the pitch, it was usually met with a chorus of, 'oh my god, is he still going?' from my household. The Tigers stalwart put in performance after performance for years in what is a naturally attritional role. He was one of the first of the new-look, mobile hookers who could tackle like an openside, jackal like a 6 and still do his duty in the lineout. Tough, grizzled and a real front-row hardman, Chuter also got the opportunity to play for England on occasion too. A lot of fans often forget that he started his career at Saracens and went on to appear just over 90 times for the south-eastern club.
3. Phil Dowson (Newcastle Falcons, Northampton Saints, Worcester Warriors)
Dowson is a real Premiership titan, having accumulated the same amount of appearances as Chuter from earlier on this list. A leader, a physical presence and a Rugby general, Dowson showcased his match intelligence leading Northampton to a memorable Premiership title back in 2014. At a huge 6ft 4, he seemed to lumber over his opposite back row counter parts; that probably helped him in the utility department though allowing him to play at Lock, Blindside Flanker and No. 8. He had a real work ethic, bounding into rucks, happy to take hospital carries and putting hits in around the park; a real warrior for his time.
2. Steve Borthwick (Bath, Saracens)
Big Steve was a shining light during some dreadful years for the England national side. Another great leader, Steve Borthwick was responsible for some of the best seasons Bath and Saracens had seen in the league; accumulating over 100 appearances for both sides. Strong in the lineout, a force in the scrum, present around the park and tough in the collision, Borthwick perhaps didn't do the extraordinary things you see many locks do nowadays, but he always did the hard graft when the side needed it most. If you look at the second rows that grew under his stewardship around him, you can see names like George Kruis, Maro Itoje, Nick Isiekwe and Michael Rhodes (he still counts). Borthwick has now set his sights on coaching and has immediately made his credentials known in the international setup; he's got his hands full with this Leicester side, but they already look far more assured under his watchful eye.
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1. Richard Wigglesworth (Sale Sharks, Saracens, Leicester Tigers)
The fact that the number one slot on this list still has time to reach an even higher tally is staggering and a true testament to the professional that he is. Wigglesworth broke into the scene when our international options were pretty light. We had just lost Harry Ellis to injury, Peter Richards could never really stick at number 1 and Danny Care was just emerging as a great prospect. Wigglesworth was again, one of the first of the new-look scrum half's, unafraid to snipe around the fringes and who ran intelligent support lines once play had broken the gain line. He also has a terrific boot, something that separates him from most other northern hemisphere scrum half's. Although slightly more structured and less creative in his later years, Wigglesworth grew a new part of his game, marshalling an excellent Saracens pack and providing unmatched service to his stand offs. When he's at his best, he makes it look so easy. Just look at his debut appearance for the Tigers last weekend, man of the match and try scorer; he might even keep Youngs out of the team!
Appearances: 289 + Counting
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