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Stuart Hooper leads the way for the Premiership’s unsung heroes


Bath Rugby’s Stuart Hooper was this week forced to retire with a back injury and will leave the game as the man with the most Premiership appearances to never graduate to full England honours.

Hooper ends with a total of 232 appearances in the top flight after a career that took in spells with Saracens, Leeds (now Yorkshire) Carnegie, and Bath Rugby where he was club captain.

The second-rower joined the West Country outfit in 2008, becoming skipper in 2011, and has played 192 times for the Aviva Premiership Rugby outfit during that period.

The 34-year-old was certainly on England’s radar – he got his first call-up to the Saxons in the summer of 2005 and captained them in the Churchill Cup back in 2009.

His 232 appearances beats Chris Fortey – a hooker for both Gloucester Rugby and Worcester Warriors who made 219 appearances in the league for both clubs.

Third in the table is David Barnes – the former Newcastle Falcons, Harlequins and most famously Bath Rugby prop who made 215 league appearances.

Barnes did pull on the Red Rose jersey once but it was in an uncapped game for an England XV against the Barbarians in 2006.

That same year he captained the Saxons before, in 2009, he earned a call-up to Martin Johnson’s senior squad for the autumn internationals.

But injury ruled him out of those internationals and Barnes retired without an England cap – although he did appear four times for the world-famous Barbarians.

Saracens legendary flanker Kris Chesney is next on the list with 209 league appearances – all for the same club.

As a promising youngster Chesney was in the England U21 side and with tremendous foot speed he also played for the England Sevens but a full cap evaded him in his career.

Fifth on the list – and the first currently active player – is Nick Wood who has made 201 league appearances and counting for his boyhood club of Gloucester.

The 33-year-old can count himself very unlucky to have never appeared for England – not only did he play for the U21s and the Saxons but he also toured South Africa in 2007 with the senior squad.

The prop was in line to start the first Test in Bloemfontein but illness struck and that tantalising international debut never materialised.

He did appear for England, like Barnes, in an uncapped international against the Barbarians in 2009 however.

The sixth and final member of the 200-club without an England cap is Sale Sharks flanker David Seymour.

The 31-year-old – who began his career with Saracens – played for England U21s and the Saxons but did not graduate the full international side.

He did however win a silver medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games as part of the England Sevens team.

Hooper, Stuart 232
Fortey, Chris 219
Barnes, David 215
Chesney, Kris 209
Wood, Nick 201
Seymour, David 200

Statistics from Stuart Farmer Media Services

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