Rugby Union: Dan Hands It to England; Brilliant New Boy Enters History Bok; England 13 South Africa 7

Article excerpt

TO Michael Owen and Justin Rose add Dan Luger, a name for heroes if ever there were one and the latest star to enter England's sporting firmament.

The Harlequins wing is older than his teenage counterparts, but just as green in this company.

The last time he entered the gates at Twickenham he did so in a school bus to watch the Middlesex Sevens.

He could not have dreamed that his return would place him on history's front line. That fate would bestow in his fingertips the power to decide a record that might have stood for all time.

Yet here he was in his first match at English rugby's towering citadel, the central character in a defining moment for the sport.

As the last seconds ebbed away and 75,000 Englishmen held their breath, the outstretched arm of Luger running back towards his own line did just enough to keep history's ball out of the arms of Stefan Terblanche.

Had he taken possession, the South African wing would have passed into immortality as the man who sealed 18 successive Test wins for his country.

The conversion still would have been required to take South Africa past England's 13 points, but with the try goes glory.

Within seconds of Luger's intervention, South Africa's fate was settled and England's first victory against a Southern Hemisphere team for three years recorded.

What a finale. What a day. Luger, whose hands would have been put to use painting the Quins' changing rooms across the road at The Stoop had he not been making history, celebrated with a bottle of Lucozade and a cheese sandwich.

Only now, the morning after the night before, would the enormity of his contribution begin to sink in.

"I did not know what was going on," said Luger. "One minute we were down in their corner. There was a line-out. I even thought we might score. Then they take a quick tap penalty and I find myself running back like crazy.


"The pass went, I think from Andre Snyman, and I just stuck my fingers out. Luckily it stuck. When the whistle went it was the most incredible feeling. I will still be buzzing for years."

Luger, 23, the son of a Croatian father and Czech mother, made his England debut against Holland at Huddersfield just three weeks ago. Has there ever been a quicker rise to eminence?

He made his mark early in the game, rising athletically and bravely to meet Mike Catt's up and under in the 14th minute.

Jeremy Guscott, charging through, took Luger's pass in his stride before racing over the line to score. Matt Dawson's conversion levelled and England never looked back. …