Crompton on playing his one and only England international in South Africa

Darren Crompton during his England debut against South Africa

Darren Crompton in action for England on his international debut against South Africa in 2007. - Credit: David Rogers, Getty Images

Darren Crompton is second on the list of England's oldest ever debutants.

The former tight-head prop played his one and only England game during the 2007 tour of South Africa at the age of 34 years and 256 days, some 73 days younger than Stuart Turner.

"I was over with a couple of my teammates from Bristol, Mark Regan and Roy Winters," said the 48-year-old Crompton, who is now a coach at Weston.

"I played with Roy at Bristol for 10 years and we both got caps on the same day, so that was quite nice.

"It was really, really enjoyable, I had been on tour with them quite a few times. I’ve been to Australia, Fiji, South Africa, New Zealand and then when I was 34 went on tour and got capped in South Africa."


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But it wasn't the first time Crompton had been involved with England.

He represented England under-16s, captained both the under-18s and under-21s and was also selected for the England A Tour of Australia and Fiji, which he called a "fantastic" tour to be involved in, as well being called up for his first England Tour of the Southern Hemisphere in 1998.

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But despite not playing on that trip, it wasn't until the end of his 15th season as a player before he got his chance.

Darren Crompton in action for Bristol

Darren Crompton played in 156 games games, scoring 40 points for Bristol in his two spells with the club. - Credit: PA

"I have literally travelled the world through rugby. I’m very lucky in that respect and it’s just nice. Any tour you go on is always a special memory," Crompton added.

"You get looked after so well, like you wouldn’t believe. They literally do everything for you so you can just concentrate on what you have to do. It’s a phenomenal set-up to be in.

"It’s a lot faster, a lot more physical. Everyone’s at the top of their game in their positions. Everyone is there for the same purpose and is selected to be there and out to do a good job.

"They were top players but good blokes as well. You are in a hotel and you are on tour with them. It was hard work when you got your days off, we would do things you normally wouldn’t do and you get very looked after, it’s just a good vibe."

Crompton's England debut would sadly end in a 58-10 defeat to The Springboks, but he helped his side score their only try of the game through fellow substitute James Simpson-Daniel.

"My first scrum I went down. We got a really good shoulder on and then the backs moved off the first phase and we scored in the corner," he said.

And there was more to come as Crompton had to sing in front of his teammates, including World Cup winning duo Jason Robinson and Jonny Wilkinson, on the bus on the way back to the hotel.

Crompton chose to sing Wild Rover by The Dubliners.

"When you get your cap on the bus you have to sing a song. It’s a tradition," he said.

"You get up in front of everyone, you get boos and you have to sing a song with your cap on the bus after the game. Roy and myself did ours one after another.

"It went alright actually, considering I’ve got a hideous voice I got through it. You generally sing on your own for about 40 seconds and then people generally join in."

Despite being called up in France for the 2007 World Cup to cover illness in the camp, this would mark the end of Crompton's international career.

He added: "I didn’t get involved, I have been there or thereabouts but it’s the way the cookie crumbles. I only got the one cap but I am happy to get it.

"I played in all age groups and then that was the final thing, it’s only one cap but it’s still one cap. I am still thankful. I would have liked more but that’s the way life goes."

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