x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Abu Dhabi Harlequins’ Calnan one for the record books

Full-back officially recognised by Guinness World Records as oldest two-code debutant

Abu Dhabi Harlequins full-back Tom Calnan, pictured on February 17, 2014, is set to enter the Guinness Book of Records for being the oldest debutant in both rugby union and rugby league. Sammy Dallal / The National
Abu Dhabi Harlequins full-back Tom Calnan, pictured on February 17, 2014, is set to enter the Guinness Book of Records for being the oldest debutant in both rugby union and rugby league. Sammy Dallal / The National

An Abu Dhabi rugby player is set to enter the book of Guinness World Records for being the oldest player to debut in full internationals in both union and league.

Tom Calnan, the Abu Dhabi Harlequins full-back, represented the country in a league international against Pakistan at age 35 in March 2012.

Later that year, by which time he had turned 36, he debuted for the UAE’s union side in the Emirates Airline Cup of Nations against Hong Kong and Zimbabwe.

Some of Calnan’s teammates contacted the office of the book of records to see if he was the oldest dual international debutant.

An adjudicator has researched the record for the past six months and provided the following confirmation.

“I have been looking into your claim and cross-referencing with all the other double cap winners in rugby history,” said Ralph Hannah of Guinness World Records. “It has taken a long time to conclude, but we are now confident you do hold the record assuming both games were ‘full internationals’ as recognised by the two respective international federations.”

Both the national governing boards for the union and league codes have supported his claim to the record in correspondence with Guinness World Records.

“Mr Calnan was awarded a ceremonial full Test cap for his debut versus Hong Kong in a bona fide IRB sanctioned international senior Test Match,” wrote Wayne Marsters, the UAE rugby manager.

Sol Mokdad, the president of UAE Rugby League, wrote: “Mr Calnan made his debut for the UAE versus Pakistan, in a home match played in Dubai on 30 March 2012, starting on the wing in a 28-26 victory.

“The game was a full rugby league international Test match, as it was recognised as such by the Rugby League International Federation.”

Calnan, who works in Dubai for a law firm, said he started investigating the idea of being a record holder on the off chance.

“My dad and I were talking about double caps, trying to name them all – all the good ones, like Jason Robinson, Sonny Bill Williams, legends like that,” he said.

“Jonathan Davies, Andy Farrell – we were joking that there is a long list with me at the end of it. Dad pointed out that not many of them would have been 36 when they got their double cap.

“We googled Guinness Book of Records, and they researched it. I was just really pleased to get capped by UAE, to be honest. The world record has just been a spin-off from that.”

pradley@thenational.ae