All eyes were on Saturday’s stunning Rugby World Cup final between New Zealand and South Africa.
The Springboks held their nerve to edge an absolute classic against the All Blacks and seal their fourth victory at the sport’s most prestigious competition.
Yet 24 hours earlier, it was a man from Norfolk who had been capturing the gaze of fans, especially in England.
Ben Youngs called time on his incredible career after helping his country beat Argentina 26-23 to claim a bronze at this year’s tournament. The scrum-half bowed out after making his 127th, and final, appearance during the match in Paris where he was named at the starting no.9.
He left the pitch as the most-capped men’s player in England history when he was replaced to huge applause by Danny Care early in the second half. Youngs, whose brother Tom also enjoyed international recognition during is career, received plaudits far and wide across the weekend and was all smiles when speaking to ITV after the game.
The Aylsham-born player, who played for Holt as a junior, said: “The game has given me so much, I’ve got huge friendships and bonds – not just in this England team, but guys I’ve played against for years.
“Rugby is a special sport where you have this bond and this friendship. I’ve got a bucket-load of memories which will last beyond my career. Rugby has given me a huge amount and I’m very, very grateful. I’m pleased we got the win and I’ll have a beer and enjoy myself with the company of the boys one last time tonight.
“I’m just delighted the boys got the result – and that was hard fought. There wasn’t too much in the legs for a lot of those guys trying to back up a huge effort last week.”
The Leicester Tigers hero was due in King’s Lynn for a Caney’s Corner Live event back in November 2021 before it was cancelled due to a serious illness in what remains a tight-knit family – many of which watched his swansong in the flesh in the French capital.
It is unsure what involvement Youngs junior will have in the game moving forwards. But Steve Borthwick certainly won’t be able to call on him unless he pulls a completely unexpected U-turn – and the same goes for Courtney Lawes.
He didn’t make the matchday 23 for the third-placed play-off but the back row still spoke to the TV cameras too.
“It’s a bit of a changing of the guard and an end of an era for a lot of us,” he said.
“It was honestly my privilege to play with a lot of these players.”