Since the Six Nations began back in 2000, there have been several players that have participated in the prestigious tournament and the quintet about to be mentioned proved that age is just a number.
England are the most successful team in Six Nations history to this day, winning the title a record seven times, while they are one of two teams, the other being Ireland, to have never taken the Wooden Spoon.
France are on course to win this year’s title for the sixth time, as they prepare to face England in their final encounter, and victory for Les Bleus would also give them their first Grand Slam since 2010.
As the anticipation and excitement builds ahead of Saturday’s final round of fixtures, we have taken a look at the five oldest players that have featured in the Six Nations.
5) Alessandro Zanni (Italy) – 36yrs 22days
Number 8 Zanni made his Test debut for Italy in November 2005 against Tonga and he would go on to win 119 caps for his country, with his final cap coming against Scotland in Rome in the 2020 Six Nations.
At the age of 36yrs and 22days, the powerful forward played 44 minutes of the 17-0 defeat to the Scots and he is currently second on Italy’s all-time record appearance maker, only behind Sergio Parisse (142).
Zanni called time on his playing career in August last year, as Benetton were beaten 16-13 by Zebre at Stadio Comunale di Monigo in front of an empty stadium.
4) Rory Best (Ireland) – 36yrs 7months 2days
One of Ireland’s greatest ever hookers, Rory Best won a total of four Six Nations, including two Grand Slams, while he was also part of two British and Irish Lions squads in 2013 and 2017.
The front-rower earned 124 caps for his country and 64 of those came in the Six Nations, leaving him as the third-highest appearance maker in the tournament’s history.
Best’s last SN outing came against Wales at the Principality Stadium in March 2019, aged 36 years, seven months and two days, before he retired for good later that year.
3) Diego Dominguez (Italy) – 36yrs 303days
Fly-half Diego Dominguez played for Italy from 1993-2003, earning 74 caps, and he scored an incredible 983 points during that period to leave him way out in front as his country’s top points scorer.
However, the talented back made his 16th and final Six Nations appearance against Ireland in Rome in February 2003, at age of 36yrs 303days, and it will take a big effort for another fly-half to still be playing in the tournament beyond that age.
It could have been a very different career for Dominguez, who did win two caps for Argentina before switching allegiances to Italy. Although silverware didn’t come his way with the Azzurri, he is seen as a legend in the country and that will provide some solace at least.
2) Andrea Lo Cicero (Italy) – 36yrs 313days
Italy may be the perennial Wooden Spoon winners when it comes to the Six Nations, but the players certainly know how to manage their workload and preserve their body to ensure a long career.
Andrea Lo Cicero played for his country from 2000-2013 and he is one of eight players to play over 100 times for the Azzurri, with his tally of 103 leaving him seventh on the all-time list.
The prop earned the last of his caps at the age of 36yrs 313 days and he chose a fine match to bow out on – Italy’s sensational 22-15 Six Nations victory at home to Ireland in 2013.
Italy ended up finishing fourth in the table that year, their joint-best Six Nations result after ending up in the same spot in 2007.
1) Simon Shaw (England) – 37yrs 199days
Taking the accolade for the oldest player in Six Nations history is none other than England’s Simon Shaw, who played against Ireland in the 24-8 defeat at the Aviva Stadium back in 2011.
At 6ft 8in, the lock, who was born in Kenya, was a man mountain on the pitch and he earned 71 caps for his country, while he is also the third-oldest player to compete for the British and Irish Lions (35yrs 306days).
Shaw certainly proved that age is just a number and it remains to be seen whether his Six Nations record will ever be beaten.