Steve Borthwick and the 10 Players Who Have Made Most Premiership Appearances

Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistApril 16, 2014

Steve Borthwick and the 10 Players Who Have Made Most Premiership Appearances

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    Steve Borthwick's claims to being one of England's most loyal servants was given very visceral recognition last weekend after the Saracens second-row set a new appearances record in the Premiership.

    In taking to the Allianz Park turf against Northampton Saints, Borthwick played his 263rd match as a Premiership figure, 256 of which have been as part of a starting XV.

    Here, we'll look at the most esteemed company that the veteran boasts, with a top 10 of the most experienced Premiership players.

     

    All appearance statistics come courtesy of ESPN Scrum.

10. Danny Grewcock

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    Premiership Appearances: 218

    Hailing from Coventry, Danny Grewcock's appearance tally may have been far greater were it not for the frequent issues he had when it came to discipline and ensuring his presence remained on the pitch.

    This trait extended over both his club and international form, with a bite on New Zealand hooker Keven Mealamu restricting his impact on the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour, as well as suspension being the cause of his 2007 Rugby World Cup absence.

    A towering figure in both literal meaning and otherwise, Grewcock spent the vast majority of his career at The Rec, though it was a few years at Saracens that initially put him on the Premiership map.

    Even up until his retirement from the game in 2011, the Bath lock was drawing some calls for a recall to the England squad, showing that age is only as much of a restriction as one allows it to be.

9. Chris Fortey

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    Premiership Appearances: 219

    Splitting his career almost equally between stints with Gloucester and Worcester, Chris Fortey was never the "star presence" that some others on this list may have boasted, but his longevity at the top level of the game is no less indicative of a consistent and reliable talent.

    The hooker signed on for his hometown club in 1997, joining the Cherry and Whites in his early twenties, making 127 appearances as a Gloucester player, starting in 77. 

    After leaving Kingsholm, Fortey moved to Sixways, where he would then make another 92 appearances for the Warriors, scoring five career tries in total.

8. Tom Voyce

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    Premiership Appearances: 220

    Tom Voyce sits as the most well-travelled of any entrant on our list, having turned out for four Premiership clubs during his playing days, which reached their conclusion in 2013.

    The most prestigious period of this career came when Voyce signed for London Wasps in 2003, scoring 43 tries over the course of a six-year spell at Adams Park.

    Other former employers of the winger-cum-fullback are Gloucester, Bath and very recently London Welsh, although a one-year deal with the club wasn't exactly a way for things to end in highlight fashion, retiring at the age of 32.

7. Alex Brown

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    David Rogers/Getty Images

    Premiership Appearances: 227

    Although the later stages of his youth development took him to Bath, Alex Brown eventually made the switch back to hometown club Bristol for the beginning of his Premiership career.

    It was under Dean Ryan that the lock initially soared, and it didn't take long for the rest of the league to take notice, leading to a 2003 transfer to Gloucester.

    Voted the Cherry and Whites' Player of the Year in his first season at Kingsholm, Brown established a name for himself with the club and on several occasions looked capable of figuring as a staple in the England squad.

    However, injuries meant that he was limited to just three international appearances in total, retiring from the game in December 2012 but maintaining a role at Gloucester.

6. Tom May

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    Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

    Premiership Appearances: 229

    Still chugging along at the age of 35, Tom May is offering what he can to the London Welsh cause, but these are the twilight years of a man who once held great prominence in the English top flight.

    For a decade, the Newcastle Falcons were fortunate to have  the utility back among their ranks, but in 2009, 10 years after first joining the northeast outfit, May opted for a move to Toulon.

    It would be only a couple of years before the two-time England international was back on English shores, though, and two seasons with Northampton Saints rounded off his Premiership ventures at 229 appearances.

    Able to play in the centres, at fly-half or along the back three, May has shown himself to be one of the most capable assets out there in his time.

5. Duncan Bell

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    David Rogers/Getty Images

    Premiership Appearances: 230

    Having come out of retirement earlier this year to help Newport Gwent Dragons with another option in the front row, Duncan Bell looks to have extended his rugby tale.

    However, the prop's Premiership appearance tally remains stuck at 230, 152 of which have come as a result of an impressive nine years with Bath, where he enjoyed the best years of his career.

    It was at the Rec that Bell had his most productive years as an option in the England squad, winning a European Challenge Cup with the West Country outfit in the process.

    Prior to his Bath days, Bell also turned out for Sale Sharks during a four-season spell, with a move to Pontypridd spliced in between.

4. Simon Shaw

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    Premiership Appearances: 237

    At the ripe, old age of 40, Simon Shaw will tell you that rugby doesn't have to be a young man's game.

    Seeing out the last few years of his career with Toulon, there were more energetic days in the lock's past, namely those that occurred with London Wasps at Adams Park.

    In the English capital, Shaw racked up 237 appearances for the club, never featuring for another Premiership outfit, although seven years with Bristol preceded his move to Wasps.

    Shaw scored 19 tries for the Premiership outfit, boasting a very respectable win percentage of 62.23 percent.

3. Hugh Vyvyan

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    David Rogers/Getty Images

    Premiership Appearances: 245

    Having made a grand total of just one appearance for the England national team, it was at the club level where Hugh Vyvyan drew his greatest plaudits.

    The Surrey native attended university at Newcastle around the same time he was signed by the Newcastle Falcons in 1998, and the lock would remain there until 2004.

    Some years on from his Premiership debut, Vyvyan—the youngest of seven brothers—caught the eye of Saracens and moved back south, going on to feature for the club 137 times in league competition, starting in 107 of those fixtures.

    In the 2010-11 Premiership final, Vyvyan broke the record for Premiership appearances with his 238th outing, but this total would eventually be broken by.

2. George Chuter

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    Premiership Appearances: 262

    The Press Association (h/t The Guardian) recently reported that George Chuter would be hanging up his boots and what a journey the hooker has had.

    Chuter will of course be most remembered for his time with Leicester Tigers, where he spent almost 13 years of his career between 2001 and 2014.

    Seven Premiership finals and four European Cup finals are indicative of the pedigree Chuter was surrounded by, but he was an extremely consistent product within his own right, earning international recognition down the years, making 24 Test appearances for England in total.

    Chuter also made 68 appearances for Saracens before moving to Welford Road at the turn of the century.

1. Steve Borthwick

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    David Rogers/Getty Images

    Premiership Appearances: 263

    And finally we come to the record-holder himself.

    Borthwick spent a decade on the books at Bath, for whom he featured on 163 occasions, however, another century of matches for Saracens has at times shown the lock to have another gear.

    What's truly remarkable about Borthwick, too, is that only seven of his cumulative appearances have come from him starting on the bench, showing just how many more actual minutes he's contributed compared to others on our countdown.

    What's more, Borthwick has also made the second-highest amount of Premiership appearances as a captain, with his number of 138 just four short of Lawrence Dallaglio's 142.

    For a time, Borthwick captained the England national team, but it's thanks to his displays with Bath and Saracens that the second-rower will go down as a great.