Five legends of the game have been inducted into the Premiership Rugby Hall of Fame at a glittering gala event in London, this evening.
Neil Back, Hugh Vyvyan and Mike Tindall were inducted alongside Mark Cueto and Richard Hill at the Honourable Artillery Company.
The five new additions join the likes of Jonny Wilkinson, Lawrence Dallaglio and Martin Johnson in the elite 41-strong club.
A glittering ceremony was hosted by Bath Rugby forward-turned television pundit David Flatman, with money being raised for Premiership Rugby’s four official charities – Sport Relief, Movember Foundation, Wooden Spoon and Restart Rugby, the official charity of the RPA.
Richard Hill and Neil Back’s biggest achievement on the pitch was winning the 2003 World Cup with England, but it wasn’t just with their national side that they shone.
Hill, now the England team manager, was famously a one club man and racked up 275 appearances in a 15-year career for his beloved Saracens, before retirement came in 2008.
“It’s a huge honour to join such an illustrious group of players,” said the 43-year-old.
“There are some players that have an amazing longevity within their respective club of clubs, so to join them is very humbling.”
Back was a teammate of Hill’s for England, but the pair were rivals on the Premiership Rugby pitch when the 47-year-old pulled on the Leicester Tigers shirt.
The open side flanker also played for Leeds Carnegie and Edinburgh Rugby, but it was in his time at the Tigers, where he scored a club record 125 tries, that his impact was felt the most.
“I’m very honoured and privileged to receive this award,” said Back.
“I was very fortunate to win every trophy I could win. On the field the World Cup was the last piece of the jigsaw, so off the field, having been inducted into the RFU Hall of Fame, this is the last piece of that jigsaw.”
Vyvyan’s career ran parallel to both Back’s and Hill’s, and the former Saracens and Newcastle Falcons back row was no less valued at his club’s than his international counterparts.
The No. 8 could also play in the second row and won the Tetley Bitter Cup with Falcons in 2001, before captaining the side to the Powergen Cup three years later.
“It’s very humbling, honestly I just really enjoyed playing rugby and I was fortunate to go up to Newcastle as a youngster and play a lot of games up there, at a very successful time for the club,” said the 40-year-old.
A third member of the 2003 World Cup-winning side to be inducted was Tindall, a man with more than 100 appearances for both Bath Rugby and Gloucester Rugby.
And after captaining his country during the 2011 World Cup, there was no doubt that Tindall would go down in the sport’s history books.
“You create special friendships and special bonds,” said the 37-year-old of his experiences in the game.
“Everyday, being fortunate enough to go to training, with 45 guys you like, who gets that opportunity? To do what you love, and what you’d do anyway whether you’re getting paid for it or not? It’s a privilege.”
The first man to be inducted on the night was Cueto, like Hill a one-club man, and the player who still leads the Premiership Rugby try-scoring charts with a remarkable 90 during his 15 years at Sale Sharks.
He signed off in style in 2015, touching down his final try in his final Premiership rugby fixture and setting a bar that only Tom Varndell currently looks like surpassing.
“It is an elite club, it’s amazing looking at the guys inducted tonight” said the 36-year-old. “There are some unbelievable names in this group, and in the Hall of Fame, so it’s really nice and makes me feel proud to be involved in it.”
The night concluded with an auction to raise funds for Premiership Rugby’s four chosen charities.