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Sean Fitzpatrick

Nation: New Zealand
Date of Birth: 4th June 1963
Place of Birth: Auckland
Position: Hooker
Internationals: 92 caps between 1986 and 1997
Inducted: England v New Zealand (19/11/05)

The brilliance of Fitzpatrick, one of the hardest of competitors, who was graced with superb skills and tremendous athleticism, had marked him out for fame from his debut against France in 1986. He remembers Twickenham very fondly.
“The first time I played at Twickenham was against the Barbarians in 1989,” he recalled recently. “For me it was a great day. To be playing on the ground I had only ever seen on grainy television pictures 12,000 miles away.
“I remember that the grass was very long and it was before all the rebuilding so the old stand was close to the pitch.”
His experiences at Twickenham though are mixed. “My next game there was in the 1991 Rugby World Cup. It was against England in a Pool match which we won.” But the inaugural winners of the trophy were destined to finish as also-rans after Australia beat England in the final.

His next visit was an ill-fated one. It was in November 1993, ten years after England had last beaten the All Blacks at the same venue. “We lost that one,” he said, and then in 1997 we drew for the first time in the history of the fixture.”
But that does not diminish the fondness and admiration in which Fitzpatrick holds the old place. “Nowadays it is a wonderful stadium. The whole set-up is quite extraordinary, it is right up there as one of the great sports stadia in the world. And then there is the singing. There has always been singing at Twickenham, but there is no singing in New Zealand, that is a huge contrast.

“And I think that winning the 2003 Rugby World Cup has helped to create the beginnings of a rugby culture in England.” Twickenham is clearly at the heart of it and also in the heart of Fitzpatrick.

Article by Dai Llewellyn


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