Full name Alastair James Hignell
Born September 4, 1955, Ely, Cambs
Current age 59 years 47 days
Major teams Cambridge University, England, England XV
|Test debut||Australia v England at Brisbane, May 31, 1975 match details|
|Last Test||Wales v England at Cardiff, Mar 17, 1979 match details|
|Test Statsguru||Main menu | Career summary | Match list | Most points | Tournament list|
Alistair Hignell was a throwback to an earlier era when multi-talented sportsmen could excel in more than one field. He won Blues at Cambridge at both rugby and cricket - four years running in both - and by the time he left university in 1977 he had already made several England appearances at fullback.
He made his England debut in 1975 in a brutal encounter with Australia at Brisbane - later termed the 'Battle of Brisbane' that saw Mike Burton become the first Englishman to be sent off in an international. Eight days later Hignell was playing for Gloucestershire against Middlesex at Bristol and five weeks later he made 60 in the Varsity match.
After leaving university, he continued playing rugby for Bristol and England in the winter, while also working as a teacher, and cricket for Gloucestershire in the summer. As a right-hand batsman he scored solidly rather than spectacularly, passing 1000 runs in a season three times, including 1983 when he retired at the end of the season.
He won the last of his 14 England caps in the Five Nations defeat to Wales in 1979. He retired from rugby because persistent ankle injuries were jeopardising his cricket career.
Hignell continued to teach until he moved into journalism full time and he became a respected reporter, as well as working extensively on the radio for the BBC. In 2000 he was diagnosed with MS and has since been an active fundraiser.
Hignell worked for the BBC for a total of 17 years and for BBC Radio 5 Live for 12 years, during which time he covered every major rugby union event, both domestic and international.
He retired from broadcasting following the 2008 Premiership Final and was subsequently awarded the Professional Rugby Players' Association (PRA) Blyth Spirit Award for his "remarkable courage" in battling MS and for his "tremendous contribution to rugby as both player and broadcaster".
Later the same year he also won the Helen Rollason Award at the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year ceremony.