Sam Warburton

Sam Kennedy-Warburton, OBE MStJ (born 5 October 1988), commonly known as Sam Warburton, is a Welsh former international rugby union player. Warburton played rugby for Cardiff Rugby 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.[2][3] Warburton held the record for the most Wales caps as captain (49) until surpassed by Alun Wyn Jones.

Sam Warburton
Sam Warburton cropped.jpg
Warburton at the 2012 Grand Slam celebrations
Birth nameSam Kennedy Warburton
Date of birth (1988-10-05) 5 October 1988 (age 34)
Place of birthCardiff, Wales
Height6 ft 2 in (188 cm)[1]
Weight15 st 8 lb (99 kg)[1]
SchoolWhitchurch High School
Rugby union career
Position(s) Flanker
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
2006–2009 Glamorgan Wanderers 27 (10)
Correct as of 12 September 2009
Provincial / State sides
Years Team Apps (Points)
2009–2018 Cardiff Rugby 106 (90)
Correct as of 7 April 2017
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)

2013, 2017
Wales U18
Wales U19
Wales U20
British & Irish Lions


Correct as of 10 July 2017

In July 2018, the Wales and British & Irish Lions captain announced his retirement from rugby union at 29 years of age after failing to fully recover from neck and back surgery[4]

Early and personal lifeEdit

Warburton was born in Wales to a Welsh mother and an English father and he considers himself Welsh and British.[5] 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 Rugby, and an older sister Holly, a schoolteacher. Their great-grandfather, George Reed, was a professional footballer who played 150 times for Leeds United in the 1920s and 1930s.[6][7] He attended Whitchurch High School and left with three A Levels.[6] As a youngster he was a keen football player and played for his school team alongside schoolmate Real Madrid and Wales forward Gareth Bale.[8][9] 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 Rugby Academy.[10]

On 5 July 2014, Warburton married long term partner Rachel Thomas in a church ceremony in Newport, before the couple held a reception at the Celtic Manor Resort.[11] He is a supporter of Tottenham Hotspur FC.


Warburton represented Wales at all levels, captaining the under-18s, under-19s and under-20s. He led Wales to the semi-finals of the World Championships at under-19 and under-20 level.[12][13] Warburton made his debut for the senior Wales national team against the United States on 6 June 2009.

On 18 January 2010, he was named in the 35-man Wales squad for the 2010 Six Nations.[14] He scored his first international try against Italy in the 2011 Six Nations.[15] Warburton captained Wales for the first time against 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 match against England, Warburton was named man of the match. In August 2011, he was named as captain for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in the absence of the injured Matthew Rees.[16]

2011 Rugby World CupEdit

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, Warburton won man of the match, forcing six turnovers and making nearly a quarter of Wales' tackles (23 out of 99).[citation needed] He continued his form in the match against Samoa, making a further six turnovers 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 earlier. 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.[17]

Wales then met Ireland in the quarter-final as Warburton faced the in-form Irish openside flanker Seán 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. In the semi-final against an out-of-form 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.[18] Warburton admitted the offence at a disciplinary hearing in Auckland, and stated to the press that the decision was fair. However, he stated in his autobiography in 2019 that he actually considered that only a yellow card should have been awarded.[19] Despite the sending off, the Guardian newspaper, Brynmor Williams and Sir Ian McGeechan, the Lions coach, named him player of the tournament.[citation needed]

2012 Six NationsEdit

In spite of the return of former captain Matthew Rees, Warburton retained the Wales captaincy for the 2012 Six Nations. However, the campaign was disrupted by injury. In the opening match against Ireland, Warburton went off injured at half-time 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.[20] As a result, he was awarded man of the match. However, he sustained a knee injury and missed the 24–3 win over Italy. He returned for the Grand Slam decider against France but was once again injured, this time his shoulder and was taken off at half-time. 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 half-time and asked vice-captains Gethin Jenkins and Ryan Jones to share the raising of the trophy, but the veterans said it was his moment.[21] The injury he sustained would rule him out for six weeks, returning in time for the Lions tour of Australia in June 2013.

2015 Six NationsEdit

Warburton surpassed the record of 33 caps as Wales captain held by Ryan Jones against Ireland on 14 March 2015.

British & Irish LionsEdit

Warburton was named as captain of a 37-man squad for the 2013 British & Irish Lions tour to Australia, making him the youngest ever Lions captain at the age of 24.[22] Warburton was selected as captain in the first test in Brisbane, combining in the back row with Tom Croft and Jamie Heaslip. The Lions won 23–21 with Warburton topping the tackle count with 14. 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.[23] However, the hamstring injury he picked up in the second test meant Warburton was ruled out of the final, deciding test, with Alun Wyn Jones captaining the team to a 41–16 win and the Lions’ first series victory since 1997. After the match, Warburton and Jones raised the Tom Richards Cup together.

In April 2017, Warburton was selected by Warren Gatland to captain the Lions for the 2017 tour to New Zealand.[24]

International triesEdit


Try Opponent Location Venue Competition Date Result
1   Italy Rome, Italy Stadio Olimpico 2011 Six Nations 26 February 2011 Win
2   Fiji Hamilton, New Zealand Waikato Stadium 2011 Rugby World Cup 2 October 2011 Win
3   France Cardiff, Wales Millennium Stadium 2014 Six Nations 21 February 2014 Win
4   Italy Rome, Italy Stadio Olimpico 2015 Six Nations 21 March 2015 Win
5   Japan Cardiff, Wales Millennium Stadium 2016 Autumn Internationals 19 November 2016 Win


Cardiff RugbyEdit


He was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the University of South Wales in 2013.[27]


  1. ^ a b "Wales Senior Squad". Archived from the original on 5 April 2016. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  2. ^ "Lions 2013: Jonny Wilkinson out but Sam Warburton is captain". BBC Sport. April 2013.
  3. ^ Hayward, Paul (19 April 2017). "Sam Warburton on Lions captaincy call: I thought it was one of the lads playing a prank". The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  4. ^ "Sam Warburton: Wales and British & Irish Lions captain retires from rugby". BBC Sport. 18 July 2018. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  5. ^ "'British' Wales star Sam Warburton sparks political row". BBC News. 7 March 2014. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Ben Warburton: Twin trouble but little jealousy". The Independent. 13 October 2011.
  7. ^ "Sam Warburton, Wales ferocious captain, is a home boy at heart". The Daily Telegraph. 27 January 2012.
  8. ^ "Pride at Cardiff school that developed Sam Warburton and Gareth Bale". The Guardian. 13 October 2011.
  9. ^ "Old pal Bale drives Warburton on to wear Wales red". South Wales Echo. 22 May 2009.
  10. ^ "Feature: Sam Warburton's journey from Rhiwbina to the Wales captaincy". Western Mail. 4 February 2012.
  11. ^ Cathy Owen (8 July 2014). "First picture appears of rugby star on his wedding day". Western Mail. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
  12. ^ "Match Details: 2007 IRB Under 19 World Championship, Ireland – Div A – 1st v 4th". International Rugby Board. Archived from the original on 17 May 2007. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  13. ^ "Match Details: 2008 IRB Junior World Championship, Wales – Semi Finals". International Rugby Board. Archived from the original on 2 July 2008. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  14. ^ "Wales 2010 Six Nations Squad". BBC News. 19 January 2010. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  15. ^ "Italy 16–24 Wales". BBC Sport. 26 February 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
  16. ^ "Sam Warburton leads Wales in New Zealand". BBC Sport. 22 August 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  17. ^ "Player of Pool D: Sam Warburton". Official Rugby World Cup Site. 4 October 2011. Archived from the original on 6 October 2011.
  18. ^ "As It Happened: Wales 8–9 France". RTÉ Sport. 15 October 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  19. ^ "Rugby World Cup 2011: Sam Warburton banned for three weeks". BBC Sport. 16 October 2011. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  20. ^ "Warburton revels in Triple Crown". BBC Sport.
  21. ^ "Wales skipper Sam Warburton speaks of his "guilt" at half time injury substitution". Wales Online. 20 March 2012. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  22. ^ "Sam Warburton fits bill in back row and as the captain". The Guardian. 30 April 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
  23. ^ "Australia 16-15 British and Irish Lions". BBC Sport.
  24. ^ "Lions 2017 squad announcement: Warburton captain, no place for Hartley – as it happened". The Guardian. 19 April 2017. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  25. ^ "Rugby Union - ESPN Scrum - Statsguru - Player analysis - Sam Warburton - Test matches".
  26. ^ Paul Rees (23 May 2010). "Cardiff Blues seize on Jonny Wilkinson injury to overcome Toulon". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  27. ^ "Wales rugby star Sam Warburton given honorary fellowship". BBC News. 16 December 2013.

External linksEdit

Sporting positions
Preceded by Wales captain
Succeeded by
Preceded by British & Irish Lions captain
2013, 2017
Succeeded by