Timothy James Horan
- 680Wallaby Number
Tim Horan was the prince of centres, a magnificent player who could and did almost anything and everything on the rugby field. His career, bar a horrendous knee injury in 1994 that raised the question if he would ever walk again, is best described as one long highlight reel. In fact, that 1994 knee injury was arguably one of the biggest events in Australian rugby history given that prior to the Super 10 final against Natal Horan had agreed verbally / shaken hands to switch codes and play rugby league with the North Sydney Bears. He went to Durban for the final and literally decimated his knee, his patella was all of a sudden located behind his hamstring, and was forced to hobble away from the agreement. When his rehabilitation was complete the green shoots of rugby professionalism were starting to take hold and a code switch became a less financially attractive alternative. He had the perfect attributes for a No.12 - solid with a low centre of gravity and blessed with exceptional acceleration. Horan was also very strong and his defence impeccable.
Born in Sydney, Horan was educated at Downlands College, Toowoomba and starred in just about every sport in which he participated. In 1989 he came into his own when, from Souths’ Colts team, he was chosen to represent Australia ‘B’ against the British Lions. Seven weeks later, and aged just 19, Horan was picked at outside centre to make his Test debut against New Zealand in Auckland. Horan went on to win just about every trophy for which Australia competed over the next ten years. He was selected to three Rugby World Cups and was twice a World Champion. He won the Bledisloe Cup in 1992, ‘94 and again in ‘98 and he was in the team that retained it in 1999. It is said that the greatest of players rise to the occasion and Horan did that in rugby’s pinnacle tournament, the World Cup. In the 1991 semi-final against New Zealand, Horan trailed behind David Campese after Michael Lynagh had chipped a kick beyond the All Black defence. Campese regathered the ball, stepped right and then left.
Horan positioned himself perfectly on the outside to accept an audacious, over the shoulder, no look pass from the great winger and score what was ultimately the match-sealing try. In the final against England, Horan delivered a moment of brilliance that turned the balance of the match. In the 28th minute Australia were under pressure despite clinging to a 3-0 lead. English fly half Rob Andrew hoisted a kick into the Australian 22. A perfectly positioned Horan soared above Rory Underwood, bounced out of the tackle of flanker Mickey Skinner, spun to his left and set sail down the right hand touchline. Covered by Will Carling, Horan grubbered ahead and, with David Campese threatening, the ball was taken over the sideline by fullback Jonathan Webb to hand Australia a lineout throw just two metres out from the tryline. Phil Kearns hit Willie Ofahengaue with a perfect throw to No. 5, a rolling maul ensued and props Tony Daly and Ewen McKenzie crashed over the line to score the match’s only try. While both were great moments it was Horan’s performance in the 1999 semi-final against South Africa that will forever live in rugby folklore. On the morning of the match he woke with a nasty stomach virus, one that had kept him awake and vomiting all night. Horan was lucky to stand let alone play but play he did. In one of the most dramatic matches of all-time Horan gave a masterclass.
Time and time again he blunted the Springbok attacking raids. Time and time again he took the ball beyond the advantage line. He was the only player from either side who looked likely to score a try. Australia won the match 27-21 after extra-time and a week later trounced France to become the first nation to win two titles. Tim Horan played 80 Tests, and scored 30 tries, in an illustrious 12-year international career.
Played fly half outside Brett Johnstone and inside Jason Little for Australian Schools against Ireland Schools. Represented Australian U17s when they defeated New Zealand U17 by 16-3.
Horan made his Test debut as the starting outside centre alongside Lloyd Walker in the one-off 12-24 Bledisloe Cup loss to New Zealand in Auckland. He was capped at No.12 inside Jason Little for both Tests on the tour of France. Horan scored his first Test tries In the 32-15 victory in Strasbourg.
He was picked at inside centre of the first Test of the home series against France but suffered second-degree medial ligament damage to his knee and missed three matches. Horan toured New Zealand with the Wallabies and after Little broke his ankle against the U.S.A., Horan played at No.13 in the 1st Test loss in Christchurch. He reverted to inside centre alongside Anthony Herbert for the final two Tests of that series. Represented Australia at the Hong Kong 7s.
Horan played every minute of all ten Wallaby tests and was selected to his first Rugby World Cup. He partnered Little in nine matches and Anthony Herbert in the pool game victory over Western Samoa in Pontypool. Represented Australia at the Hong Kong 7s.
Horan started all eight Tests at inside centre, the first two with Richard Tombs and the final six alongside Little. Captained Australia at the Hong Kong 7s.
Little and Horan partnered in all eight internationals of the season. Represented Australia at the Sevens Rugby World Cup in Edinburgh and at the Hong Kong 7s.
Horan missed every Test after he suffered a horrendous knee injury in the Super 10 final against Natal. He tore the cruciate and medial ligaments, tore the cartilage and dislocated his patella.
As he continued to rehabilitate from his knee injury, Horan did not play in the home series against Argentina. He was selected to his second Rugby World Cup but was not right to play in the tournament opener against South Africa. Horan then started at inside centre in both pool games against Canada and Romania, the quarter-final loss to England and the two Bledisloe Cup Tests.
Horan earned nine caps but missed the back half of the Tri Nations after he broke his nose on George Gregan’s head in an accident at training. In the 2nd Test, 42-3 victory over Wales in Sydney Horan played his 40th Test to surpass the Australian record for a centre held by Andrew Slack He returned for the end-of-season tour where he started on the left wing against Italy, on the right wing against Scotland and then at No.12 against both Ireland and Wales. In that Welsh Test Horan became the 67th Wallaby to captain his country. The press described Horan as the most adventurous captain in the history of rugby as he declined to take 11 kickable penalties.
He started the opening five Tests at fly half, won his 50th cap against New Zealand in Christchurch but broke his thumb against the All Blacks in Melbourne. In the 25-6 win over England in Sydney, Horan became the sixth Australian to score 100 Test points. When he returned from injury, and with Stephen Larkham moved to No.10, Horan played No.13 outside Pat Howard for the four Tests on the end-of-season tour to Argentina and the U.K.
Horan played inside centre in the first 11 Tests but missed the northern hemisphere matches against France and England due to injury.
He played the opening two Tests against Ireland at No.12 but was shifted to fly half due to Larkham’s absence through injury for the Centenary Test against England and the first three matches of the Tri-Nations. Horan then returned to inside centre for the rest of the year. He was selected to his third Rugby World Cup, scored the fastest try of the tournament against Romania to win a year’s supply of Guinness, rested for the U.S.A. pool game and climbed out of his sick bed to deliver a man-of-the-match performance in the semi-final against South Africa. Horan was named Player of the Tournament.
Horan earned his final Test cap against Argentina in Brisbane but suffered a Lisfranc fracture of his foot that ultimately saw him retire from international rugby.