This month saw the retirement from International rugby of one of the greatest scrummaging tight heads that the game has seen.
David Young has enjoyed a wonderful international career since making his International debut in the 1987 World Cup quarter-final against the Old Enemy England but the woeful performance of his team mates against Argentina this month led him to resign from the Welsh captaincy and the International game.
His leadership skills were always evident as he captained every team he played in from Wales at under 15 level through to the midweek 2001 Lions, which were known as Dai’s driftwoods. Graham Henry’s tribute was “… he is by nature a leader and a captain, a role he has played with every team he has been involved with throughout his life.”
Young first joined Cardiff RFC in 1988 and made 33 appearances for the Blue Blacks in the next two seasons.
He won 14 Union caps for Wales before, in January 1990, signing for Leeds RLFC in a £165,000 deal. He stayed in Rugby League for 6 seasons, winning 13 Welsh Rugby League caps in his time. He returned to Cardiff RFC in December 1996.
He is the only man to tour with the British Lions in three separate decades, first touring Australia in 1989 as part of a triumphant squad.
He has played over 100 games for the club and his 50 caps for Wales makes him the most-capped prop ahead of Graham Price (41).
David is club captain for a fourth successive year, emulating the feat of John Scott 20 years ago.
The time span of Young’s career is highlighted by the now Welsh team Manager Alan Phillips, who was a former playing colleague of Young and packed down at hooker in that World Cup Quarter Final against England. Phillips said: “It is sad to see a great international career come to an end, but what is pleasing is that David was ready to make the decision himself.”
In trying to explain his departure, Young said it had been a difficult decision, because playing for Wales meant so much to him. “But in the wake of recent results I felt this was a decision I had to make,” he said.
At 34 years of age, Young seemingly wilted under the intense spotlight that captaincy brings and he has admitted that he thought about quitting after the defeat by Ireland last month, but played on hoping that the team’s form would improve against Argentina.
He said: “I had considered retiring after the Irish game, but decided to carry on to try to put things right. The intense criticism that has followed our two recent defeats, allied to the high expectation that always goes with playing for Wales weighs heavily not just on me, but also my family. For too long, my family have come second to rugby in my life. Now is the time for them to be put firmly first.”
It is a shame that his International career could not be ended on a happier note.
|1967||Born Aberdare, Mid Glamorgan, July 26|
|1987||After limited senior rugby experience with Swansea, plays in Wales’ quarter-final victory over England in Australia|
|1987||Scored his only Test-match try during Wales’ 46-0 victory over the US in Cardiff|
|1988||Five Nations debut in Wales’ 11-3 success against England at Twickenham – played all three games of Triple Crown success.|
|1989||Toured Australia with the 1989 British Lions, starting all three Tests.|
|1990||Turned professional by agreeing a £165,000 deal with Leeds RLFC.|
|1995||Wales XIII reach World Cup semi-finals and are crowned European champions.|
|1996||Switched back to union, joining Cardiff and reclaiming his Wales place for the 28-19 defeat by Australia.|
|1997||Selected for his second Lions tour, this time to South Africa, making four starts, but none in the Test side.|
|1999||Featured in his second rugby union World Cup, 12 years after the first, as Wales reached the quarter-finals, bowing out to Australia.|
|2000||Appointed as Wales captain, replacing his Cardiff team-mate Rob Howley.|
|2000||Overtakes Graham Price as Wales’ most-capped prop when he makes his 42nd Test appearance against England at Twickenham.|
|2001||Picked for a third Lions tour, filling the role of midweek captain during the 10-match trip to Australia.|
|2001||October – Becomes the 14th player to win 50 Welsh caps – Young’s sons are the match mascots – but Wales suffer a record 36-6 defeat against Ireland.|
|2001||November – Argentina beat Wales 30-16 in Cardiff. Young announces his retirement from international rugby just 48 hours later.|