- RFU top brass pay tribute to Mike Catt
- 75-cap back will play last competitive game on Saturday
Photo: Getty Images
The RFU has paid tribute to 75-cap England star Mike Catt, who will make his final professional rugby appearance for London Irish in the Guinness Premiership on Saturday.
Catt, 38, will line up alongside his Exiles team mates for the last time against Northampton Saints at the Madejski Stadium (kick-off 3.00pm).
In a 20-year career, he appeared in two Rugby World Cup finals in 2003 and 2007, becoming an MBE for his contribution to the victorious 2003 campaign.
The British & Irish Lion first played rugby in this country for Bath and after winning domestic and European honours, moved to London Irish in 2004 for the latter stages of his career.
The South Africa born back excelled for the Exiles, becoming the club's Player of the Season in 2006 and receiving the Rugby Players' Association (RPA) Players' Player of the Season award in the same year. Last year he was awarded with the O2 Special Merit Award by the RPA.
After Saturday Catt will continue his coaching role with London Irish and senior RFU figures lined up to honour the contribution he has made to rugby in this country.
RFU top brass pay tribute
Photo: Getty Images
RFU Elite Rugby Director Rob Andrew MBE, who played with Catt for England, said: "'Catty' won his first cap against Wales in 1994 and by the following year he was an established and invaluable member of the squad helping England to a third Grand Slam win in five years in 1995.
"When I retired from playing for England in 1997 I'm not sure what answer I would have given if I'd been asked would Mike still be playing for England in 2007! As we all know he did just that picking up a runners-up medal to add to his winners medal from 2003 and leading his country in the same year.
"Mike is undoubtedly a legend of the club and international game and his vision and coaching expertise are there for all to see now that he's at London Irish working with Toby Booth."
RFU President John Owen highlighted Catt’s enduring quality and said: "Mike Catt has been a tremendous ambassador for the game over the last 18 years of his club and international career.
"He has served both Bath Rugby and London Irish very well as a player and latterly as a coach working with Toby Booth and I'm sure he will continue to make a significant contribution to the game.
"As an England player Mike won 75 caps, the highlights of which include not only four Rugby World Cups but captaining his country notably for the memorable win against France here at Twickenham in 2007.
"I wish him every success for the future and on behalf of the RFU thank him for his services to the game."
Francis Baron OBE, RFU Chief Executive, added: "Mike has proved over a long period of time what an asset he has been for his two clubs and his country over nearly two decades and he thoroughly deserves his top ten place [7th] in the list of England player test appearances.
"His versatility as a back player is difficult to match as his caps for England include appearances at 10, 12, 15 and even on the right wing against Ireland in 1998.
"Since his international debut in 1994 Mike has answered the needs of a number of England coaches and I hope he continues his career in a coaching capacity at London Irish."