Rugby players who have received UK honours

To celebrate the start of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, we’re taking a look at some notable former and current rugby players who have received a knighthood, CBE, OBE or MBE British honour.

Rugby Players with Knighthoods MBE OBE CBE

Rugby union players who have received British knighthoods

Henry Braddon is often cited as the first rugby player to receive a British knighthood. Though his knighthood citation doesn’t refer to a sporting career, having played for Otago, New South Wales and New Zealand, he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1920 (Gazette issue 32090).

The most recent rugby player to receive a knighthood for services to the game is Bill Beaumont. The former England captain was knighted in the Queen’s New Year honours list in 2018 (Gazette issue 62507), having already received an OBE in 1982 (Gazette issue 48837) and a CBE in the 2008 (Gazette issue 58729).

Other legends of the game such as Clive Woodward have also been knighted for their services to rugby union, with Woodward being awarded the OBE at the same time as his knighthood following England’s win in the 2003 World Cup Final against Australia (Gazette issue 57155).

List of rugby union players with British knighthoods

Here’s a list of rugby union players who have received a knighthood from reigning British monarchs:

¹Though he played for the New Zealand national team, Harcourt Caughey received his knighthood for “outstanding services to health administration” and was also awarded an OBE in 1966 (Gazette issue 44212) for community services

²Before his knighthood, Gareth Edwards also received an MBE in 1975 (Gazette issue 46593) and a CBE in the 2007 New Year honours (Gazette issue 58196) for “services to Sport”

³Ian McGeechan also received the OBE in 1990 (Gazette issue 52173)

Following his playing career, Wavell Wakefield moved into politics and upon retiring from Parliament in 1963, he was raised to the peerage as Baron Wakefield of Kendal (Gazette issue 43162)

Players at the 2019 Rugby World Cup with British honours

There is only one player at the 2019 Rugby World Cup who has received Queen’s Birthday or New Year honours:

Notable former rugby union players with British honours

Here are some famous former England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland rugby players who received British honours from Her Majesty the Queen:

⁵Martin Johnson also received an OBE in the Queen’s 1998 New Year honours (Gazette issue 54993)

As well as being awarded the CBE, Willie John McBride was awarded the MBE in 1972 (Gazette issue 45678)

Alongside his CBE, Jonny Wilkinson has also been awarded both an OBE (Gazette issue 57155) and an MBE (Gazette issue 56797)

⁸Lawrence Dallaglio also received an MBE after winning the World Cup in 2003 (Gazette issue 57155)

New Zealand rugby union players with knighthoods

Though former All Blacks such as the Henry Braddon and Harcourt Caughey were appointed Knight Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (KBE), there are eleven other New Zealanders who have been awarded a Knight Companion (KNZM) of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Established by royal warrant on 30 May 1996 by Elizabeth II, the New Zealand Order of Merit is awarded "for those persons who in any field of endeavour, have rendered meritorious service to the Crown and nation or who have become distinguished by their eminence, talents, contributions or other merits".

Here’s a list of former New Zealand rugby union players who have received a knighthood through the New Zealand Order of Merit:

  • Sir Fred Allen KNZM
  • Sir John Graham KNZM
  • Sir Graham Henry KNZM
  • Sir Michael Jones KNZM
  • Sir John Kirwan KNZM
  • Sir Brian Lochore KNZM
  • Sir Graham Lowe KNZM
  • Sir Colin Meads KNZM
  • Sir Gordon Tietjens KNZM
  • Sir Wilson Whineray KNZM
  • Sir Bryan Williams KNZM

See also

What is the difference between a CBE, OBE, MBE and a knighthood?

Footballers who have received UK honours from the Queen

Rugby World Cup: 2003 winning team

Find out more

Nominate someone for an honour or award (Gov)

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