"My Granny rang me - she couldn't really say too much, she was so emotional"
More about the provenance of this particular quote in a moment, but we've probably all had moments like this. You achieve something - say getting picked for the school rugby team- and Nan comes on the phone to say how happy she is for you, and then gets all teary. Any psychologist worth their salt could probably give you a precise reason as to why this pretty innocuous event would trigger such a response but I would guess that basic pride and the thought that your grandchild is growing up so fast would be two significant factors.
Yet what made this particular grandmother well-up was rather more momentous. The quote comes from Leicester Tigers and England scrum-half Ben Youngs. He said it just after learning that he had been selected by coach Warren Gatland for the British & Irish Lions tour to Australia this summer. His granny probably found out at the same time because it was announced to the world on live TV. And if she had been overjoyed when Ben was given the nod, I should imagine that learning that his brother Tom had also been chosen meant that her sitting room floor was soon a collage of moistened hankies.
You will probably be able to find acres of writing on what a marvellous achievement this is (in fact there is a whole video on it at the foot of this post) so I will not add to it much here - suffice to say that the Youngs household must be Leicester's equivalent of Noahs Ark, what with two Tigers and two Lions currently parading around. Instead, inspired by the Youngs' achievement, here is a list of 5 top sporting siblings. They have been chosen using rigorous scientific methods - my memory plus a dash of google- so please don't moan if you and your brother/sister haven't made the cut. (For your information, you were originally at number 5 but were edged out by the Charltons.) So in no particular order, here are a group of people that probably made their parents and grandparents sob many a bucket's worth over the years:
Scott and Craig Quinnell -
This one is more of a tribute to the whole family. Their dad, Derek, was a Welsh rugby international and a British and Irish Lion. Scott matched this achievement and also crossed codes to rugby league. Craig starred for Wales and more importantly once gave me a lift in his car. I bet if you ask him he will talk about it (The Wales bit, not the hitchhiking story)
Bobby and Jack Charlton -
Will we ever see their likes again? Both were part of the 1966 World Cup winning team, Bobby was for a time England football's most capped player and still all time top scorer. Jack became a national hero in two countries after leading Ireland to successive World Cup final tournaments. And he could fish a bit, too.
Tracey, Gary and Phil Neville
Tracey played netball for England, Gary and Phil represented their country at football. And their dad's first name is Neville. Yes, Neville Neville. Utterly wonderful.
The Williams Sisters -
Their sobriquet conjourns up images of a Second World War close harmony singing trio. But since Venus' pro debut in 1994 she and Serena have taken women's tennis onto another level. I've heard it argued that they are perhaps the most under appreciated phenomena in world sport. When they retire, who will fill the void?
John and Jim Harbaugh -
John and younger brother Jim were the first pair of brothers in NFL history to serve as head coaches. Sports unmatcheable abilty to create ridiculous narratives struck when their teams (Baltimore Ravens and San Franciso 49ers) then met in the Superbowl. The elder Harbough triumphed, narrowly. Their father Jack was also a player and coach. When asked about the pair, he once said:
"They have no weakness. They are just like their mother."
So that's just 5 - to be frank this list could have filled an entire website so feel free to suggest your own below the line. Incidentally, as I write this, my son Tom dances around my ankles, tugging on my trousers. Tom is only two. He is at that stage where new words tumble out of his mouth like a drunk on a street corner barracking passers by. This is often accompanied by a loud crash as he launches himself off the highest piece of furniture he can furtively climb. A couple of weeks ago he caught a ball for the first time. Like Ben & Tom Youngs' granny, I choked up a little bit. The lesson learned? Buy shares in a tissue company, as they will never go out of business.