Greatest XV Profile: Mike Catt

Mike Catt may have been born in South Africa, but having won four Six Nations titles and a World Cup winner’s medal during 75 Test appearances in the famous white jersey of England, he will forever be a Red Rose legend.

Mike Catt may have been born in South Africa, but having won four Six Nations titles and a World Cup winner’s medal during 75 Test appearances in the famous white jersey of England, he will forever be a Red Rose legend.

The utility back was a menace for club and country whether picked to play at fullback, fly-half, inside centre or wing, and demonstrated a unique longevity that saw him regularly prove his doubters wrong.

Indeed, aged 36 years and one month Catt became the oldest player to appear in a World Cup final in 2007 – a record later broken by New Zealand’s Brad Thorn – over 13 years after making his international bow against Wales in the 1994 Five Nations.

Catt’s contributions to England’s 1995 Championship campaign yielded Grand Slam glory, and the former Bath Rugby and London Irish star went on lift the coveted trophy another three times, in 1996, 2000 and 2001 in 30 appearances.

Having enjoyed multiple Six Nations successes, Catt got his hands on the Webb Ellis Cup in 2003 after coming up short twice previously, while he made his last England appearance in the following World Cup final four years later.

Dogged, determined and full of natural ability, Catt’s playing qualities were easily transferable to the coaching arena, and the 49-year-old is now part of Andy Farrell’s Ireland management team, having previously held posts with London Irish, England and Italy.

With limited space available in the Greatest XV, Catt’s versatility, winning mentality and ability to produce on the biggest stage undoubtedly make him a worthy contender to make the cut.


Born in Port Elizabeth to an English mother and South African father, Catt attended the prestigious Grey High School – which also boasts current Springboks skipper Siya Kolisi among its alumni – where he first got his hands on a rugby ball.

Having represented both the junior and senior Eastern Province teams, Catt moved to England after leaving school and made his debut for Bath in 1992 as a 21-year-old, going on to make waves on the domestic scene before being drafted into Geoff Cooke’s 1994 Five Nations squad.

After earning his first cap in the Championship-concluding fixture at Twickenham – which saw Wales claim the title despite being defeated 15-8 – Catt’s international career truly set off in his next appearance against Canada, where he scored two tries as a replacement in an emphatic, 60-19 win.

Catt started at fullback in all four of England’s matches during the following year’s Five Nations campaign, helping the Red Rose to their first clean sweep since 1992, before making his World Cup bow later the same year.


Though England were ultimately outdone by New Zealand at the semi-final stage in South Africa, it wasn’t long before they were enjoying success once more at the 1996 Five Nations, with three wins from four enough to earn them that year’s title.

Selection for the British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa in 1997 followed – with Catt starting the third Test at fly-half – before another World Cup campaign ended in disappointment two years later, with a quarter-final exit at the hands of the Springboks.

Again, England went some way to making up for their World Cup shortcomings by claiming Six Nations glory in 2000, and again in 2001, although injury robbed Catt of a second Lions tour spot that same year.

Though perhaps a surprise selection in Clive Woodward’s 2003 World Cup squad, Catt made five effective appearances in Australia including one as a replacement in the final, where his extra-time contributions helped steer England to global dominance for the first time in their history.


Catt’s international selection slowed somewhat after the World Cup, but having missed out on Six Nations involvement in 2005 and 2006, he was duly called up to captain the Red Rose for their 2007 Championship Round 4 clash against France.

A fourth World cup appearance was next up, as Brian Ashton’s charges battled their way to a second successive final before being beaten 15-6 by South Africa in Paris.

A week later, Catt announced his international retirement having achieved everything possible at the top level of the sport, and a year later delved into coaching to offer his expertise alongside his playing commitments at club side London Irish.

Having experienced the Championship from behind the white lines for both England and Italy since 2012, Catt retains hope of a first Guinness Six Nations title as a coach with Ireland in 2020, with the rescheduled matches set to take place next month.