The Gods of Rugby Heaven: The tight-head props

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Jean-Pierre Garuet. Photo: Getty Images

Jean-Pierre Garuet (France)

A giant of the scrum. Garuet made his name in an era where the scrum was not a blight on the game and props were not expected to be open-field maestros. Garuet was a pure scrum technician and he dominated his position in the mid-1980s culminating in a World Cup final appearance in 1987. He also had the dubious honour of being the first French player in history to be sent off when he was found guilty of eye-gouging an Irish opponent in 1984.

Richard Loe. Photo: Supplied

Richard Loe (New Zealand)

The All Black enforcer is known for many things; smashing Paul Carozza’s nose, eye-gouging and striking. It’s a (self-inflicted) shame, because he could play. Loe made his Test debut in the inaugural World Cup match in 1987 and played in three World Cups in total. His front-row partnership in the late 1980s with Sean Fitzpatrick and Steve McDowell is considered to be one of the greatest in All Blacks’ history.

Ewen McKenzie (Australia)

The former Wallabies coach was a formidable presence in Bob Dwyer’s successful team of the early 1990s. A rare product from the Melbourne system, McKenzie moved to Sydney and became one of the best No.3s of his time. He started in 50 of his 51 Test appearances for the Wallabies and featured in two World Cup campaigns. The try credited to Tony Daly in the final against England in 1991 from a rolling maul, could easily have been awarded to McKenzie. He went on to have a successful coaching career.

Patricio Noriega. Photo: Getty Images

Patricio Noriega (Argentina)

The Pumas prop played 24 times for Australia, to go with his 25 Tests for Argentina, and could have easily represented the Wallabies in the World Cup in 1999 until a shoulder injury ruled him out. Noriega was one of the best scrummagers of the 1990s and managed to play in the 1995 World Cup tournament for the Pumas. He served several seasons as the Wallabies’ scrum coach before leaving the post in 2012 to take up a job in Europe.

Phil Vickery. Photo: Reuters

Phil Vickery (England)

The Wasps prop was the dominant force in a dominant scrum for a decade. Vickery was promoted to the national side at the age of 21 and had a topsy turvy beginning with England scoring 60 points against Wales on his debut before conceding 76 points to Australia in his second match. He featured in three World Cups including the successful 2003 side before skippering England to the final four years later. His career came to an abrupt end in 2009 after the Springboks destroyed the British & Irish Lions’ scrum.

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