Against France Welsh skipper Alun Wyn Jones drew level with the world record for most test appearances with Richie McCaw, where he played his 148th game – including nine British and Irish Lions test caps.
In the professional era more Test matches are being played than ever before, and over the course of the last decade the record has changed hands several times. With that said, it could be some time before Jones’ soon to be set record is broken.
The only currently active players near the cap summit are New Zealand’s Sam Whitelock (118, New Zealand), who sits in joint 19th place, Romania’s Florin Vlaicu (124) in joint 12th and Russia’s Yuri Kushnarev in 25th with 115 caps. The latter two won’t be adding any further caps in 2020, with Rugby Europe cancelling the remainder of the season in recent weeks.
Romania’s Catalin Fercu also has 109 caps in 37th, but time is running out for the 34-year-old fullback.
George North, at just 28 could still be a shout with 95 caps to his name, although having begun his Test career at 18, the road years on the Welsh wing are considerably more than the average professional player of his age. Another fifty plus caps seems like a tall order for the hulking winger, who has shipped more than his fair share of body damage over the span of a storied career.
All Blacks scrumhalf Aaron Smith, still arguably the world’s premier nine, currently has 94 caps to his name and could conceivably enjoy another four years of Test rugby, even in the shark pool that is New Zealand. A likely pension top-up in the form of an overseas contract could yet put pay to any aspirations Smith may have of summiting mount Test cap.
As it stands, with 1,844 caps between them, this is the most capped XV of all time.
ALL-TIME MOST TEST APPEARANCES XV
1: Gethin Jenkins (134, Wales and Lions)
2: Keven Mealamu (132, New Zealand)
3: Jason Leonard (119, England and Lions)
4: Alun Wyn Jones (148, Wales and Lions)
5: Victor Matfield (127, South Africa)
6: Alessandro Zanni (119, Italy)
7: Richie McCaw (148, New Zealand)
8: Sergio Parisse (142, Italy)
9: George Gregan (139, Australia)
10: Ronan O’Gara (130, Ireland and Lions)
11: Adam Ashley Cooper (121, Australia)
12: Florin Vlaicu (124, Romania)
13: Brian O’Driscoll (141, Ireland and Lions)
14: Bryan Habana (124, South Africa)
15: Yuri Kushnarev (115, Russia)
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