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Wales Online
Wales Online
Katie Sands

Who is England's most-capped rugby player? Ben Youngs to overtake Jason Leonard but won't hold record

Ben Youngs is set to claim a historic record if he comes off the bench in England v Wales.

Harry Randall is Eddie Jones' preferred starting scrum-half for the Twickenham Six Nations encounter, meaning Leicester No. 9 Youngs is set to make his 115th England appearance from the replacements bench.

He will overtake World Cup-winning prop Jason Leaonard's cap record which he set during a 14-year Test career, and is to be applauded. Youngs will no doubt be guaranteed a rapturous reception at a capacity 82,000 crowd, 12 years on from his debut.

Youngs has played under three different England head coaches - Martin Johnson, Stuart Lancaster and Eddie Jones - and only Australian great George Gregan has won more caps for his country as a scrum-half.

But 32-year-old Youngs won't become England's most-capped rugby international.

Reporting of the impending record-break has shifted in recent days to mark the fact Youngs will become England's most-capped men's player.

That's because World Cup winner Rochelle 'Rocky' Clark - the most-capped women's rugby player in history - holds the overall England record, having played 137 Tests before retiring in 2018.

The front-rower, now 40, made her international debut in 2003 and was awarded an MBE for services to rugby after being involved in the 2014 World Cup triumph.

England players including Rochelle Clark (centre) celebrate beating France (ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

It can often be the case that women's sporting achievements are minimised or made to be invisible when men's achievements are reported as the default records.

Behind Clark, England Women No. 8 and 2016 World Rugby player of the year Sarah Hunter is on 130 caps and set to increase that number during the upcoming Women's Six Nations.

England's 2014 Rugby World Cup-winning captain Katy Daley-Mclean - who played in four World Cups and won nine Six Nations titles before retiring in 2020 - is next on 116 caps. Fellow World Cup winner Tamara Taylor has 115 - the same number Youngs is set to reach.

Jason Leonard will be Youngs' loudest cheerleader at Twickenham on Saturday evening as he urges the England scrum-half to savour a landmark achievement.

Former Lions prop Leonard, who retains close ties with the game as an administrator and speaker having retired in 2004, feels only warmth for his successor in waiting as England's most enduring player.

"I'll be at Twickenham and I'll be clapping harder than anyone in the West Stand when Ben comes on. It will be a great achievement," Leonard told the PA news agency.

"To do it in front of a home crowd is amazing and I'm pretty sure that Twickenham will go absolutely nuts in celebration - and rightly so.

"I know Ben and his brother Tom, and their old man Nick, who used to play scrum-half for England himself back in the day. So I know the family and a nicer guy than Ben you couldn't wish for.

"A record is there to be broken. Never, ever, did I think that this would be here for all eternity. It was always a case that it's going to happen, so the question was when really.

"Ben has been such a great international player for over a decade now and he's an absolute credit to the game, his club, his country, his family and his friends. The scary but positive thing is that he's still got two or three years of rugby left in him. He's not finished yet."

Leonard eclipsed Rory Underwood's milestone of 85 England appearances in 2000 but Youngs is the only other man from these shores to join him in the ranks of rugby's Test centurions.

England's most-capped rugby players

Rochelle 'Rocky' Clark - 137 caps

Sarah Hunter - 130 caps

Katy Daley-Mclean - 116 caps

Tamara Taylor - 115 caps

Ben Youngs - set to earn 115th cap

Jason Leonard - 114 caps

Dylan Hartley - 97 caps

Dan Cole - 95 caps

Owen Farrell - 94 caps

Jonny Wilkinson - 91 caps

Courtney Lawes - 90 caps

Lawrence Dallaglio - 85 caps

Rory Underwood - 85 caps

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