Warburton at the 2012 Grand Slam celebrations
|Birth name||Sam Kennedy Warburton|
|Date of birth||October 5, 1988|
|Place of birth||Cardiff, Wales|
|Height||6 ft 2 in (188 cm)|
|Weight||16 st 3 lb (103 kg)|
|School||Whitchurch High School|
|Rugby union career|
Sam Kennedy-Warburton, OBE MStJ (born 5 October 1988), commonly known as Sam Warburton, is a former Welsh international rugby union player. Warburton played rugby for the Cardiff Blues and was first capped for Wales in 2009. He usually played as an openside flanker but was also capable of playing at blindside. In June 2011, he was named as Wales captain versus the Barbarians and subsequently in August 2011 he was named as the Wales captain for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. In April 2013, he was named the Lions' captain for the 2013 tour to Australia, and was also named as captain for the 2017 tour to New Zealand Warburton holds the record for the most Wales caps as captain.
In July 2018, the Wales and British and Irish Lions captain announced his retirement from rugby union.
Warburton was born in Wales to English parents and he considers himself Welsh and British. He has an older twin brother Ben who played at semi-professional level with Glamorgan Wanderers RFC and is now a physiotherapist for the Cardiff Blues, and an older sister Holly, a schoolteacher. He attended Whitchurch High School and left with 3 A Levels. As a youngster he was a keen football player and played for his school team alongside schoolmate Real Madrid and Wales left winger Gareth Bale. He had a trial with local club Cardiff City at the age of 14 but chose to concentrate on rugby instead. He played on the junior teams of Rhiwbina RFC and played for Glamorgan Wanderers RFC whilst a member of the Cardiff Blues Academy.
Warburton represented Wales at all levels, including being captain of the U18s, U19s and he was captain of the Wales Under-20 team for the 2007-08 season. He led Wales to the semi finals of the World Championships at under 19 and under 20 level. Warburton made his debut for the senior Wales national rugby union team on 6 June 2009 versus the USA.
On 18 January 2010, he was named in the 35 man Wales national Squad for the 2010 Six Nations tournament. He scored his first international try against Italy in the 2011 Six Nations tournament. Warburton captained Wales for the first time versus the Barbarians on 4 June 2011 at the age of 22 years and 242 days becoming Wales' second youngest captain after Gareth Edwards. In a world cup warm-up against England, Warburton claimed man of the match with a superb display, dominating the breakdown. In August 2011 he was named as the Welsh Captain for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in the absence of the injured Matthew Rees.
In the opening match of the tournament against South Africa, Warburton became the youngest ever World Cup captain, facing experienced South African openside flanker Heinrich Brüssow. While Wales lost 17-16, skipper Warburton won man of the match, winning his breakdown battle with Brussow in an outstanding display where he made 6 steals and making nearly a quarter of Wales' tackles (23 out of 99). He continued his form in the match against Samoa, making a further 6 steals and 17 tackles as Wales won 17-10. Warburton played another good game against Namibia before being rested for the final half-hour in the 81-7 game. Wales then booked their place in the quarter finals against Ireland with a 66-0 win over Fiji, in direct contrast to the loss of four years ago. Warburton was again at the heart of the performance making some steals and some good runs, and also scoring his second test try. At the end of this remarkable few weeks, Warburton was then voted the Player of Pool D by the fans; he had taken the tournament by storm, making the highest number of turnovers.
Wales then met Ireland in the quarter-final as Warburton faced the inform Irish openside flanker Sean O'Brien, in the 'battle of the opensides'. Wales reached the semi-final for the first time in 24 years with a 22-10 win, as Warburton continued his form, making 21 tackles and a number of turnovers, disrupting Ireland's ball. They were set to face an out of form French team in the semi final. When playing against France, Warburton became the second Wales player to receive a red card in a World Cup when he was sent off after 18 minutes by the Irish referee Alain Rolland for a dangerous tackle on Vincent Clerc. Warburton admitted the offence at a disciplinary hearing in Auckland, when evidence was presented by the player, Gatland and Warburton's legal representative Aaron Lloyd. Despite the sending off, the Guardian newspaper, Brynmor Williams and Sir Ian McGeechan, the Lions coach, named him player of the tournament.
Warburton retained the captaincy for the Six Nations, despite Matthew Rees' return suggesting he would hold the accolade for many years. This Six Nations campaign however would be an injury disrupted one. In the opening match against Ireland he went off injured at halftime with a dead leg, but Wales managed to win 23-21. He missed the 27-13 win over Scotland but returned for the Triple Crown decider against England. Wales won 19-12. Warburton was at his best making steals, carries, taking lineouts. But it was his try-saving tackle on Manu Tuilagi that caught the eye. The England centre seemed destined to score in the corner but Warburton launched himself low and grabbed his ankles to make a superb try saver. As a result, he was awarded man of the match. He once was injured however and missed the 24-3 win over Italy with a knee injury. He returned for the Grand Slam decider against France but was once again injured, this time his shoulder and was taken off at halftime. Wales prevailed though 16-9 to claim a grand slam. Warburton would then lift the trophy with one hand, since his other shoulder was in a sling. He later spoke of his guilt at going off at halftime and asked vice captains Gethin Jenkins and Ryan Jones to share the raising of the trophy. But the veterans said it was his moment. The injury he sustained would rule him out for 6 weeks meaning he would be available for the Lions tour of Australia in June 2013.
Warburton surpassed the record of 33 caps as Wales captain held by Ryan Jones on 14 March 2015 versus Ireland.
On 30 April 2013 Warburton was named in a 37-man squad for the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour to Australia. He was announced captain for the tour by New Zealand born Wales head coach Warren Gatland, making Warburton the youngest ever Lions captain at the age of 24. Warburton was selected as captain in the first test in Brisbane combining with Tom Croft and Jamie Heaslip. The Lions won 23-21 with Warburton topping the tackle count by some way with 14 (Brian O'Driscoll was 2nd in 11. Warburton started the second test a week later. The Lions lost 16-15 and many considered the turning point to be when Warburton got injured and left the field. Warburton was magnificent at the breakdown preventing the Wallabies from having a platform. Clive Woodward considered his performance 'the most outstanding performance I have ever seen from a Lion'. Unfortunately for Warburton he would be ruled out of the third test due to the hamstring injury he picked up in the second Test. The Lions would go on and win the final test with Alun Wyn Jones captaining the team to a 41-16 win. At the end of the final Test, Warburton and Jones raised the Tom Richards Cup after the Lions claimed their first series since 1997.
|Cap||Date||Team||Position||Shirt Number||Home or Away||Tournament||Venue||Result||Score||Notes|
|1||22 June 2013||Australia||Openside Flanker||7||Away||1st Test||Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane||Win||23-21||Lions test debut as captain. Topped tackle count with 14. Lions go up 1-0 in an absorbing match.|
|2||29 June 2013||Australia||Openside Flanker||7||Away||2nd Test||Etihad Stadium, Melbourne||Loss||15-16||Widely regarded as one of his finest test displays - Clive Woodward dubbed it the best display by anyone in a Lions jersey - Warburton dominated the breakdown and was many pundits' man of the match. His injury in the 66th minute changed the game and ruled him out of the final and deciding 3rd test.|