Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Jason Leonard will ‘clap harder than anyone’ when Ben Youngs breaks cap record

Ben Youngs, right, is poised to replace Jason Leonard as England’s most capped player (David Davies/PA)
Ben Youngs, right, is poised to replace Jason Leonard as England’s most capped player (David Davies/PA)

Jason Leonard will be Ben Youngs’ loudest cheerleader at Twickenham on Saturday as he urges the England scrum-half to savour a landmark achievement.

Youngs, 32, will surpass Leonard to becomes the country’s most capped male player when he steps off the bench and makes his 115th appearance in the Guinness Six Nations clash with Wales.

The Leicester scrum-half will reach the milestone in front of a 82,000 sell-out crowd 12 years after running on for his debut against Scotland.

Former Lions prop Leonard, who retains close ties with the game as an administrator and speaker having retired in 2004, feels only warmth for his successor in waiting as England’s most enduring player.

“I’ll be at Twickenham and I’ll be clapping harder than anyone in the West Stand when Ben comes on. It will be a great achievement,” Leonard told the PA news agency.

“To do it in front of a home crowd is amazing and I’m pretty sure that Twickenham will go absolutely nuts in celebration – and rightly so.

“I know Ben and his brother Tom, and their old man Nick, who used to play scrum-half for England himself back in the day. So I know the family and a nicer guy than Ben you couldn’t wish for.

“A record is there to be broken. Never, ever, did I think that this would be here for all eternity. It was always a case that it’s going to happen, so the question was when really.

“Ben has been such a great international player for over a decade now and he’s an absolute credit to the game, his club, his country, his family and his friends.

“The scary but positive thing is that he’s still got two or three years of rugby left in him. He’s not finished yet.”

Leonard eclipsed Rory Underwood’s milestone of 85 England appearances in 2000 but Youngs is the only other man from these shores to join him in the ranks of rugby’s Test centurions.

Ben Youngs has been among England's most consistent performers for the last 12 years
Ben Youngs has been among England’s most consistent performers for the last 12 years (Marco Lacobucci/PA)

“The record has been very special and it still will be when Ben beats it. But it was never about the record, it’s not something I coveted,” Leonard said.

“In the era I started playing for England, if you got more than 30 caps you were considered a success.

“The greatest prize I walked away with is not the records or accolades, but the memories and playing with your mates.

“Ben’s still got a couple of years left in the tank but he’ll know that he can’t carry on until his 40s, that’s just not going to happen.

Jason Leonard's long-standing record as England's most capped men's player will finally be broken
Jason Leonard’s long-standing record as England’s most capped men’s player will finally be broken (Mike Egerton/PA)

“It’s a case of going out and enjoying the moment, while also concentrating on his performance. And you can’t take it for granted because you’re one injury away from retirement.

“You do generally try to enjoy every second of it because you know it could end tomorrow and that you’re a long time retired.”

Youngs has been reunited in the England camp with his old Leicester head coach Richard Cockerill, who now oversees the forwards.

Cockerill’s playing career ended at Welford Road two seasons before Youngs’ began in 2007 but with the former hooker moving into a coaching role, they continued to work together until his departure in 2017.

Ben Youngs is targeting a fourth World Cup at France 2023
Ben Youngs is targeting a fourth World Cup at France 2023 (Ashley Western/PA)

“As a 17-year-old Ben took teams by surprise, scored a few tries and won us games by his pace and his eye for a gap. He could score a try from nowhere and his show and go was pretty unbelievable,” Cockerill said.

“Clearly he’s developed his game significantly since then. His raw energy, pace and ability to naturally find space was very, very good.

“His kicking is as good as anybody’s in the world. At the start of his career that was a work on for him but that’s now as good as any nine in world rugby. He’s stayed with the modern game.

“I’m pretty sure he’ll set the World Cup as an aim and reassess after that. There are guys who are playing into their mid 30s and beyond, so why not Ben?”

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]