The greatest hookers of all time: Brian Moore
Brian Moore was the epitome of aggression in rugby, the England hooker played each game with the same fearlessness, and because of it he cements himself as one of the greatest
Major teams: Nottingham, Harlequins, Richmond
Test span: 1987-95
England caps: 64 (63 starts)
Lions caps: 5 (5 starts)
Test points: 4 (1T)
By definition, elite athletes require a fierce competitiveness. But in Brian Moore rugby found a sportsman who took the trait to the nth degree, much like Dylan Hartley in the modern England squad.
Moore once spent a week’s worth of school breaks staring at a wall in punishment for not apologising for comments made in a games lesson that he felt were justified. That stubbornness was to stay with him during a career that brought him 63 starts as England hooker – still a national record.
Adopted as a baby, Moore grew up in Yorkshire and played in the backs before an injury led to him filling in at hooker in an U16 county schools trial. He never looked back.
Moore went through the ranks, captaining England B at 23, and when hooker Graham Dawe was banned in the wake of the violent 1987 match with Wales, Moore seized his chance.
He made his England debut in the ensuing Calcutta Cup match, gritting his teeth through the pain of a foot injury sustained in sprinting practice before the squad met up. Then, still troubled by the injury at the inaugural World Cup, he took strong painkillers every day to get through the tournament and deny Dawe the opportunity to win back the shirt.
Moore’s fiery intensity is renowned – his Pitbull nickname was never more apt – and he was one of the fittest players ever to wear the Red Rose. His sprint times over 30m and 60m were quicker than several England backs, and one manic gym session, in which he competed furiously with Dawe, has passed into legend.
Yet Moore was also a nuts-and-bolts hooker, especially in the scrum where, in tandem with Paul Rendall and Jeff Probyn, he took the French scrum so low that rival hooker Daniel Dubroca couldn’t strike the ball.
Voted Rugby World’s Player of the Year in 1991, Moore found defeats hard to handle and he threw his RWC 1991 runners-up medal in the Thames in disgust. He won three Grand Slams yet felt it should have been five.
A qualified solicitor, Moore was often at loggerheads with the RFU over the amateur laws and his trenchant comments now enjoy a wide audience in his capacity as a media analyst.