Michael Lynagh is one of the most successful and skilful players ever to have graced the sport of rugby union. He was born on October 25th in Brisbane, Australia and attended St. Joseph’s College, Gregory Terrace. He was a bright young rugby star at school, playing in the first team of St. Joseph’s College between 1979 and 1981.
He won the GPS Premiership at Gregory Terrace and captained the team successfully during his last year there. After leaving school, Lynagh represented Queensland between 1982 and 1995. He was an important member of Queensland’s Super 6 and Super 10 victorious sides.
Lynagh proudly represented his country between the years of 1984 and 1995. His preferred position was fly-half but he was versatile enough to switch to inside-centre if required. He won a total of 72 caps for the Wallabies and captained the national side for two years, between 1993 and 1995.
He made his international debut at the age of 20, against Fiji on June 9th 1984. Australia won this match 16-3 and Lynagh quickly established himself as a rising rugby talent. Shortly after his debut, Lynagh helped his team win an impressive Grand Slam.
In 1986, Lynagh helped Australia to win the Bledisloe cup at the expense of the All Blacks, in New Zealand. He continued this feat in 1992 on home turf, in front of ecstatic fans and scored a magnificent total of 28 points.
Lynagh played in the first three World Cup tournaments and was lucky enough to experience World Cup glory in the 1991 competition. He was vice-captain of the team who won the title and perhaps his most inspiring international match came in the quarter-final against a strong Ireland team.
Irish flanker Gordon Hamilton had scored a late try to put his team ahead in the match. Furthermore, shortly after this try, Australian captain Nick Farr-Jones was substituted following an injury. At this point, the World Cup dreams of Australia looked doomed. However, Michael Lynagh took the captain’s armband and inspired his team to a magnificent comeback.
He scored the try which won the game, following a great pass from David Campese. Lynagh inspired the Wallabies to a strong performance in the semi-final, which resulted in a comfortable win over the All Blacks. The final against England was a closely fought match and the 7 points scored by Lynagh proved invaluable, as Australia won 12-6.
Michael Lynagh retired from international rugby in 1995, holding the world record for points scored with an impressive total of 911. His final appearance was against England in the quarter-final of the World Cup and ended in a narrow and unlucky defeat.
Lynagh also holds the accolade of having scored in every Test match he participated in, until he handed over the kicking duty to Marty Roebuck.
Following his retirement from international rugby, Lynagh joined England’s Saracens in 1996. This was a major boost for the English club following the appointment of new coach, Nigel Wray. Lynagh was an extremely popular big-name signing among the fans. His impact upon the club was almost immediate.
During the 1997/1998 season, the Saracens were locked in a bitter fight for top place in the league with the Newcastle Falcons. The rivals met at Vicarage Road late in the season in a crucial match.
In front of almost 20,000 ardent fans, Lynagh won the match with a magnificent drop goal in the last period of the game. Although Newcastle finished above Saracens that season, the team had still made their fans proud, losing only 3 matches in the league campaign.
Just one month after the victory over Newcastle, Lynagh was once again influential for the team, leading Saracens to a Tetley Bitter Cup win over Wasps at Twickenham. Their magnificent cup run resulted in the first piece of silverware for the club in their 122 year history. This was to be Lynagh’s last competitive game and he was enrolled in the Saracens’ Hall of Fame some years later.
- 1996/1997 appearances – 21
- 1996/1997 points – 200
- 1997/1998 appearances – 28
- 1997/1998 points – 402
Life after rugby
Lynagh has remained involved in rugby but has adopted other projects too. He is a director of the commercial property investment division of Allco Finance Group, a prominent Australian company.
He also acts as an after-dinner and motivational speaker. His passion for the sport is still evident, though, in his work as a TV commentator for Sky Sports UK and in the numerous articles he has written since retiring. Numerous English newspapers have been desperate for his input, including the Daily Mail.
Throughout his career and after his retirement, Lynagh was careful not to court controversy. He shunned the celebrity lifestyle which has attracted some rugby stars, choosing instead to live a quiet life away from the media spotlight. He spent some time living in Treviso, Italy, with his Italian wife and children but moved back to London shortly after.
Lynagh is particularly reflective upon his time in the sport and has become a very quotable sportsman. One of his most famous quotes shows the importance of the game to him personally:
Rugby for me, is the most wonderful team sport. It brings together a group of people from different backgrounds, possessing different personalities all with different ideas, varying degrees of skills and capabilities trying to achieve a common goal. To have actually done this at the highest level, with friends, in wonderful countries, playing against the best, is something that will never leave me.
At the time of Michael Lynagh’s retirement, he held numerous impressive records:
- Most international points scored – 911
- Most points scored in an international match by an Australian – 28
- Most penalty goals in international matches – 177
- Most conversions in international matches – 140
- Most conversions scored in an international match by an Australian – 8
- Most international appearances in the position of fly-half – 65
- Most countries played against – 17
- Most points scored for Queensland – 1166