Victor Umbogu




One of the game's great characters, Victor Ubogu did not exactly fit the stereotypical image of an English prop. After all, how many of his rugged west country predecessors could claim to have attended Oxford University or had a passion for Lotus sportscars? However, as an extremely dynamic and mobile forward, the sight of Victor Ubogu in full charge with ball in hand must have been a daunting proposition for many an opposing defence.

Of Nigerian descent, Victor played his club rugby for Moseley, Richmond and Bath, and he made his debut for England in a win against Canada in 1992. He was soon in action against the newly returned South Africans, a match which finished 33-16 to England. He was not needed in the 1993 Five Nations due to Jeff Probyn's continued presence, but he chalked up another impressive scalp against New Zealand in the autumn.

Soon after that 15-9 triumph over the All Blacks, Victor also made an amusing appearance on "A Question Of Sport", prompting series regular Bill Beaumont to ask "What did you read down at Oxford Victor? The Beano?" By 1994 Ubogu had become England's first choice tighthead, and played in eight test matches in all, including another win against South Africa.

However, Victor probably played his best rugby in the 1995 Grand Slam campaign, scoring a piledriver of a try against Wales (his only test score) and striking fear into the hearts of the French with his violently effective running. He enjoyed a reasonable World Cup in South Africa where England finished fourth, but played poorly against the Springboks in a one off test at Twickenham the following autumn and was dropped. Victor then waited the best part of four years for his next cap, a replacement appearance against France in the 1999 Five Nations. He was to come off the bench twice more that year, winning the last of his 24 caps against Australia in Sydney.

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