To many it is a great blessing for a baby to share a birthday with the Christ Child. For many it is a burden - two presents merged into one. Which rugby players celebrate - or have celebrated - their birthdays on the 25th?
In the very first rugby Test match at Raeburn place in 1871, there was a player born on Christmas Day. He was Charles William Sherrard, born in London on Christmas Day 1849. He was a forward in the first two Tests ever, against Scotland in 1871 and 1872. A soldier, Sherrard went off to fight in the South African War, won two medals and reached the rank of colonel. He died in 1921.
Sherrard was not the first-born international player. That was probably Arthur Gibson who was born in Hampshire on July 14, 1844. He died in 1927, one of a few survivors of the 1871 Test still alive at the time of the centenary in 1923 of William Webb Ellis's supposed act of inspiration of taking up the ball in his arms and running with it.
Frederick Margrave, a Westwalian who was born (1858) and died in Llanelli. He played for Llanelli and was one of the first players from the club to play for Wales. He in the Welsh pack in two Tests in 1884. He died in 1947.
In 1881 Margrave was the captain of Llanelli. They were to play against Swansea in a cup match on the same day as Wales were to play their first-ever Test - against England. Buckley Roderick of Llanelli was chosen to play for Wales but 'respectfully declined the honour' so that he would play against Neath. Fred Margrave scored the only try in the match, running "like a hare, covering two-thirds of the ground and touching down amidst the plaudits of the whole field". The report goes on: "On arrival back at Llanelli station the captain was shouldered and carried to a brake with the rest of the team in it. The brake, unhorsed, was drawn through the town by hundreds." And they then went on a noisy, triumphant march.
One of the international rugby players born on Christmas Day had a name to commemorate the event - Christmas Davies who was born in Burry Port in 1916. He was better known by his second name - Howard. He played fullback for Wales on either side of World War II - two Tests in 1939 and four in 1947 with two wartime Tests in between. The only other Welsh player to play on both sides of the war was Haydn Tanner who was 92 when he died in 2009.
Two Christmas babies had parents who were subtler in the naming of their sons - Lancelot Andrew Noel Slocock of England, born in 1886, who was killed in France in 1916 when serving as a second lieutenant with the Kings Liverpool Regiment, and Arthur Noel Finlay of Australia, born in Sydney in 1903. Slocock was a forward in 1907-08, Huck Finlay a lock for Australia in 1929-30.
In 1908 James Davey, a halfback, played for England under LAN Slocock's captaincy. Davey was also born on Christmas Day - in 1908. Maffer Davey, a Cornishman who played for Redruth, spent several years in the gold mines of the Witwatersrand and captained Transvaal, 1904-06. He returned to Cornwall and won a silver medal for rugby at the 1908 Olympic Games when Cornwall represented Great Britain.
Even subtler in naming were Nigel Starmer-Smith's parents. He was born in Cheltenham on Christmas Day in 1944 and had Christopher as his second Christian name. Starmer-Smith had a short - six Tests - international career but has stayed involved in rugby, writing a history of the Barbarians and now very much the voice of the International Rugby Board's Sevens Series.
Sam Strahan, the All Black lock, was also born on Christmas Day 1944. Sadly, despite their shared birthday, he and Starmer-Smith did not play in a Test against each other.
Donald Cameron of Scotland and Jan Pickard of South Africa were born on Christmas Day 1927 and did not play against each other either. The only time Donald Cameron played against the Springboks was for Glasgow and Edinburgh, and then Pickard, who was in the touring team, did not play.
Jan Pickard, a great man of rugby who died in 1998, was not the only Springbok born on Christmas Day. Bert Kipling and Paul Visser were both born on Christmas Day 1903 and Johnny Bester was born on Christmas Day in 1917 and Rampie Stander, the genial prop, in 1944.
Some were close. Cliff Riordan, who had a remarkable life was born on Christmas Eve as was Noel Howe-Browne who played against the 1906 Springboks and for the 1910 Springboks. Peter Swanson was born on Boxing Day in 1946. Riordan was born in Colesberg, one of 10 children During World War I, he rose to the rank of captain in the Royal Army Service Corps after training at Aldershot and saw action in the horrible Dardanelles. Later he became a magistrate in Pietermaritzburg, a sports journalist in South America and a specialist in ice skating equipment in London where he died on February 7, 1958.
Other international players born on Christmas Day:
* Tom Blatherwick of England (born 1855). He played in just one Test, against Ireland in 1878. He died in January 1940.
* Bernard Middleton of England (born 1858) played as a forward in two Tests, both against Ireland, in 1882 and 1883. He died in 1947.
* George Davies (born 1875) of Swansea, a centre or fullback in 11 Tests, who was knocked out in scoring a try for Wales against Ireland in 1900.
* Harold Wheatley of England (born 1912), whose brother Arthur, also an England forward, was born just before Christmas. The brothers played together for England in 1937 and 1938 and were partners in a haulage firm, A Wheatley & Sons.
* Clive Currie, the All Black fullback (born 1955). He played in two Tests in 1978 till a broken jaw in the match against Wales ended his tour.
* Sean Lineen (born 1961), Scotland centre whose father was an All Black centre (1957-60). Sean was the first of the 'Kilted Kiwis', New Zealanders who played for Scotland. He qualified through a grandmother and has stayed on in Scotland and is currently coaching the Glasgow Warriors.
* Stuart Roy (born 1968), the Welsh lock, was at the 1995 World Cup and played his only international as a late replacement against Japan.
* Rowen Shephard (born 1970), Scotland's strong, attacking fullback in 20 Tests in 1995-98.
* Mark Mapletoft (born 1971), England's flyhalf in one Test - against Argentina in Buenos Aires in 1997.
* Matthys van Rooyen (born 1971), who was born in Luderitz and was on the flank for Namibia at the 1999 World Cup.
Nobody, it seems, at the 2011 Rugby World Cup was born on Christmas Day though there were some mothers who managed to hold out to Boxing Day. Mark Cueto was born on Boxing Day 1979 and two of the Italian team were also born on that day - hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini in 1984 and versatile back Pablo Canavosio in Córdoba in 1981. At the 2007 World Cup, centre Irakli Giorgadze of Georgia was also born on Boxing Day, in 1982.
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The entire All Blacks apparel line has been updated for 2013/14. Check out the New Zealand All Blacks polo.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Gilbert Blitz 8S rugby cleat is a great cleat at a great price of $69.99. Get a new pair of cleats today.
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The All Blacks Performance t-shirt is black with hints of blue from the training jersey. Very Cool.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.