Six Nations Legends: George North

Few can match the explosive arrival of Wales and Guinness Six Nations legend George North on the international stage.

Few can match the explosive arrival of Wales and Guinness Six Nations legend George North on the international stage.

With 104 Wales caps, 43 tries, and two Grand Slams, the sight of 105kg of sheer power hurtling down the wing still prompts the most hardened pros to tremble in their boots.

North currently has the most international tries of any active player, and at age 30 the uncompromising powerhouse could yet eclipse Shane Williams as Wales’ all-time try scorer.

Williams was on the opposite wing for North’s unforgettable debut, lining up against reigning world champions South Africa.

And the teenage winger delivered a barnstorming performance, dotting down twice to become the youngest player to score more than once against a major rugby nation.

It was an astonishing feat, but for those who knew him well it was far from improbable.


The native Welsh speaker moved from Norfolk to Anglesey at age two and it was there that his secondary school PE teacher, Keith Withers, noticed something special about the future star.

“His knowledge of the game was what stood out,” Withers told BBC Wales. “I made him captain of the under-13s and asked him to do a team talk before the first school game.

“I had to stop him after about two minutes because he wouldn’t shut up. That just sums up how he is, he had a lot of knowledge of the game, even at that age.”

A move down south beckoned, and having developed an imposing physique, North was turning heads in the national set-up while at Scarlets academy.

Nigel Davies, North’s first professional coach, recalled: “My first memories are when George played for Scarlets under-16s against Ospreys.

“It didn’t seem fair on the other boys because he was about the size he is now and on a different level.

“It was clear he was ready to play. I remember the Wales coaches coming down for one Scarlets session and I said ‘you’ve got to keep your eye on this guy’.

“Some boys are physically ready, George was also emotionally ready. Players like him come along once in a generation.”


A year after helping Wales to the 2011 World Cup semi-finals, North had nailed down a regular starting berth in time for the following year’s Six Nations.

And it was his brilliance combined with a Leigh Halfpenny penalty that secured a thrilling late comeback victory over Ireland in the opening match.

Wales would go on to secure their first Grand Slam since 2008, teeing up the opportunity to defend their title for the first time since 1979.

North played every minute of the 2013 campaign, with a late try in Paris securing Wales’ first away win against Les Bleus since 2005.

Wales needed a seven-point margin of victory over England in the final round to deny their opponents the Championship, the Triple Crown, and a first Grand Slam in a decade.

But far from wilting under pressure, the home side steamrolled England 30-3, a record-breaking win that sparked wild celebrations in Cardiff deserving of a 34-year wait.


North’s formidable performances earned him a spot on the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia where he produced two moments of quality that will live long in the memory.

In the first Test in Brisbane, North collected a kick deep in his own half before charging past four men to cross the whitewash.

It was a staggering example of the young player’s all-powerful running and had Sir Ian McGeechan calling the wonder-try one of the best ever scored.

And in the second Test, North took it upon himself to lift his opposite number Israel Folau onto his shoulders to gain an extra few yards with the ball.

The Lions would go on to win the series 2-1, but back in Europe, Wales were about to endure a six-year dry spell in rugby’s greatest Championship.

But it would not be a dry spell for North, who continued his run of scoring in every Championship edition since 2012, including four in 2016 to end as the competition’s top try-scorer.

Three years later and North produced another opening match masterpiece, this time against France who looked to be cruising towards victory up 16-0 at the interval.

But the winger ran home two second-half tries to seal Wales’ tenth straight win, taking home the Man of the Match award in the process.

Principality Stadium was once again the stage for North’s second Grand Slam triumph, as they comfortably swept aside Ireland 25-7.

And in 2021 a 28-year-old North was still breaking records, becoming the youngest player to bring up a century of caps for his country.

Now only Alun Wyn Jones and Gethin Jenkins stand between him and the honour of becoming Wales’ all-time appearance holder.

It would come as no surprise if he added that distinction to his already storied career before he hangs up his boots.