Thursday, 15 December 2016

Tier 2 players approaching 100 caps

So far 42 players in international rugby history have reached the milestone of 100 caps for their country, but only one of those players (Portugal's Vasco Uva who won his 100th cap against Kenya in May 2015) has come from outside the 6 Nations or Rugby Championship sides.

However Tier 2 players are gaining a lot more caps now than they used to. Over the past couple of years the record for most caps for Georgia, Japan, Namibia, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain and Tonga has all fallen to presently active players. Aaron Carpenter of Canada, plus Diego Magno and Carlos Arboleya of Uruguay are set to break their national caps record next year too.

After having taken 20 years into the professional era for a player from outside Tier 1 reach 100 caps, 2017 will be a year where an extra bunch of players from Tier 2 nations (mainly those from Europe) who could reach the landmark.
Image result for merab kvirikashvili
Merab Kvirikashvili (Georgia, 98 caps)
14 years after his debut in 2003 as a 19 year old scrum half, Kvirikashvili should become the first Georgian and second player from outside Tier 1 to reach 100 caps probably sometime during the REC.

Hitoshi Ono (Japan, 98 caps)
Could have reached 100 caps last November but pulled out of the touring squad, but the 38 year old still appears to be in the team's plans and should become the first Asian player to reach the milestone at some point next year, possibly against Ireland in June.

Davit Kacharava (Georgia, 96 caps)
May need to wait until later in the year to reach 100 caps as Milton Haig has firmly stated he is planning on fielding a heavily experimental side for much of the 2017 REC.

Florin Vlaicu (Romania, 96 caps)
Has barely missed a match under Lynn Howells charge and should reach 100 caps towards the end of the REC, and would be both the youngest and fastest player outside Tier 1 to reach the mark achieving it in just under 11 years at age 30.

Giorgi Chkhaidze (Georgia, 94 caps)
Could potentially make 100 caps next year, but didn't feature in November behind Mikautadze and Nemsadze at lock, and Haig has stated he wants to test younger players in the REC next year so could end his career in the 90s.

Catalin Fercu (Romania, 93 caps)
May have to wait until the end of next year to reach the milestone due to his fear of flying possibly ruling him out Romania's of June tests.

Other players who won't reach 100 caps in 2017, but could do in 2018 include Gonçalo Uva (Portugal, 90 caps), Valentin Calafeteanu (Romania, 88 caps), Victor Gresev and Yury Kushnarev (Russia, 84 caps). Plus outside of Europe Kensuke Hatakeyama (Japan, 78 caps) and thanks to Los Teros busy fixture list Diego Magno (Uruguay, 64 caps) may also be on course to win their 100th caps around the time of the 2019 RWC if they both stay in the team.

From just one centurion from a Tier 2 nation at present will have likely expanded to over 10 in just a couple years time.

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