I remember when I managed the All Blacks…

Andy Haden of New Zealand

Andy Haden @Getty Images

Several moments in my undistinguished rugby life stand out, but no more so than in 1991.

This was the year that I took my wife and two young sons to Perth in Western Australia (WA) for a year long Teacher Exchange organised by a Commonwealth Exchange Programme.

Teaching in a social priority school was challenging but enjoyable. As a Physical Education teacher in the UK I had been involved in teaching and coaching rugby, but now found myself learning a new set of skills when asked to teach Aussie Rules Football and Lacrosse.

With a yearning to reconnect with the English version of the oval ball, I answered an advertisement in the local West Australian newspaper to get involved in the Golden Oldies Rugby tournament to be held in Perth (26th May to 1st June 1991).

An evening meeting in April was held at a local rugby club, designed to recruit volunteers for a week to chaperone one of the many teams arriving from all over the world.

I quickly realised that taking a week off from my new school would not be possible, so the organisers asked if I could possibly spare one day off (a Friday) and did I have an Australian bus driving certificate. The answer to the first was “I will have to ask” and to the second- “yes”.

I had no difficulty in obtaining permission for a day off school and as result a second meeting was held the following week in which I was asked if I could pick up a group of  New Zealand players from the airport.  Not being totally familiar with the suburbs of Perth, I enlisted the help of a very good friend, Hugh Francis, whom I taught PE with in the UK and who was now a resident of WA.

A few days before heading off to the airport I collected a 24-seat bus and was given a sum of approximately $200 (£200 today) to be used for ‘refreshments’.

Arriving at Perth International Airport late Friday afternoon and holding a prominent ‘New Zealand rugby’ sign, I was approached by none other than Andy Haden. The legendary and rather imposing former All Black introduced himself as captain of the classic All Black team, who would be playing an exhibition test-match against the classic Wallabies on the Saturday afternoon, to mark the end of the week long tournament.

Introductions were swift and the ensuing conversation dealt with the unfortunate loss of their manager who was unable to travel due to illness. I expressed sympathy but was broadsided by the next question when Andy asked, ‘could I act as their manager?’

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I tentatively said yes and so began the most memorable 36 hours of my life!  Installing the players into a hotel was straightforward, followed by the inevitable question, ‘where’s the bar?’  As manager I did my best to assist and beers and steak sandwiches were followed by the entire refreshment budget within two hours.

Needless to say the next morning, the day of the exhibition match, a number of the players looked very seedy. Some had stayed up all night playing cards. Surprisingly all players turned up for breakfast although very few ‘Full English’ were ordered as appetites appeared to have been lost.

A feature of the arrangements for the team included the use of a pitch at a nearby rugby club for a training run. Bearing in mind their long journey the day before and the fact that many of these players had not played in the same team for many years, if at all, plus the levels of steak and alcohol intake, I suggested to Andy that a run out might be a good idea since a venue had been organised.

This suggestion was turned down without discussion.   Glancing around the tables, where conversation was sparse and the need for sleep for some was apparent, I once again suggested some fresh air combined with meaningful body movement might not go amiss.

Again this was dismissed but, despite fears of a short sharp Kiwi reply, I persevered. My third time of trying was met with Andy standing up and saying in a loud and commanding voice to his players, “right,  John wants us to have a training session – so all outside”.

The squad trooped, some stumbled, out into the hotel car park and formed up for a line-out, with the scrum half Andy Donald organising his backs. The hooker, Lester Routledge I believe, threw the ball in, Jock Hobbs was hoisted, caught the ball, which was duly shipped out via Donald to the backs.

Andy appeared satisfied with this training session and ordered breakfast to resume. After this brief, but tiring, training workout we settled down for a relaxing morning around the pool before heading off to the Perry Lakes Stadium and final preparations for the game.

Watching many of these ‘Golden Oldies’ on both sides was a delight and many showed their skills when representing  their country.   I was particularly impressed with the backs – Murray Taylor, Bruce Robertson, Bernie Fraser and Doug Rollerson at fullback.

For the Wallabies Roger Gould at full back and John Hipwell at scrum half looked very sharp. Speed was, understandably below par, but skill and ingenuity made up for pace.  The exception was a try for Grant Batty who looked as nippy and elusive as ever. The game was hard fought and played in a good spirit with the All Blacks recording a win.

Autograph hunters were out in force and part of our wide ranging duties was to ensure that players satisfied those requests and that the changing rooms afterwards were organised and free of ‘hangers-on’.  We were therefore surprised to see a bewildered and fazed youth in his overcoat sitting next to Grant Batty.  When challenged on his reason for being in the room he exclaimed, in what sounded very much like a Peter Sellers ‘Bluebottle’ voice,  “that he just wanted to be with the players”.  He was escorted out.

The after match function was held in a restaurant in the Subiaco suburb of Perth. Both teams attended this friendly affair with …..yes more steak and beers.

Following the meal and speeches, a nearby bar was frequented and only vacated after several pleading requests, well beyond closing time, from the landlord.  A mannequin, which stood in the central bar, was ‘borrowed’ as the players boarded a bus to a nightclub for additional entertainment.

It was whilst driving I glanced over to the front single passenger seat to see Roger Gould with Denis Lillee sitting on his lap.  I later learnt that the legendary cricketer lives in the Perth area and knew Roger well.

On arrival the bus received a ‘lively’ welcome from one or two local characters outside the nightclub in Northbridge. Feeling responsible for the ‘keeping of the peace’ I exited the bus, followed by two or three ton of well lubricated Kiwi muscle. Luck however intervened when prop Nick Botica, due to his well developed upper body shape, got wedged momentarily in the bus door.   Much to my relief this allowed the nightclub welcoming party to realise that their friendly salutations would be met by hefty reciprocal treatment and they disappeared sharply.

The evening was short lived with most of the well worn and fatigued players having to be returned to the hotel base in the early hours of Sunday. With precious little sleep, the next day I wearily drove the players to the airport for their return journey to New Zealand.

That was the weekend I ‘managed’ the All Blacks.

GO Polo 2

 

 

 

 

About the Author- A retired schoolteacher, John Gosling is a Stadium Tour Guide for the World Rugby Museum.

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War Games: The New Zealand Expeditionary Force during the Second World War

At the outbreak of war it had been decided that New Zealand should provide an Expeditionary Force of one division, under the then Major-General, former player and rugby supporter Bernard Freyburg. Their first echelon had landed in Egypt in February 1940, the third in September. The second was diverted to Britain on Italy’s entry into the war and did not reach Egypt until the spring of the following year, ready for the move to northern Greece.

As in WW1, rugby organized or otherwise was a big part of NZ service life. As well as a local rugby competition for unit teams in 1940–41, before heading for the desert, there was soon a rash of fixtures against useful opposition. These regularly featured magnificent displays by that 1935 All Black tourist Eric Tindill at scrum half, though he had been capped at five eighth. Tindill died aged 99 in 2010 after a unique career as a NZ cap at both rugby and cricket, a Test cricket umpire and Test rugby referee.

 

In 1940 he played firstly for Aldershot Command. Also in the team was Cyril Pepper, the pre-war All Black prop mentioned earlier, who was wounded at Sidi Rezegh in 1941 where he earned the MC. However, he died in a fall in Wellington in 1943, aged 31.

The NZ side played in the following matches before they resumed their voyage to Egypt:

Nov 23 – Lost to Rosslyn Park 20-22 (at Old Deer Park, Richmond): Pepper and Tindill (capt.) both appeared in this opening match. Rosslyn Park led 22-0 with less than 20 minutes to go.

Nov 30 – Lost to St Mary’s Hospital 3-15 (at the Command Ground, Aldershot).

Dec 9 – Lost to Cardiff 3-12 (at the Arms Park, Cardiff): the hosts saw Wilf Wooller grab a try and a dropped goal while Duncan Brown landed a penalty and conversion. E. Howell got the NZ try.

Dec 11 – Beat Rosslyn Park 15-8 (at the Command Ground, Aldershot), in the presence of the Duke of Gloucester.

Dec 14 – Beat Aldershot Command 8-0 (at the Command Ground, Aldershot).

Dec 21 – Beat Rev. Peter Brook’s West of England XV 13-8 (at the Memorial Ground, Bristol).

Dec 28 – Beat Guy’s Hospital 33-3 (at Honor Oak Park). The try-count was 9-0.

On behalf of one of those venues and its teams, the British Journal of Nursing for December 1940 carried a plaintive and doubtless typical appeal:

‘Aldershot Command: There is a big demand for football boots and footballs – both Association and Rugby – and for light novels and magazines. It is only necessary to hand in books at the nearest post office. Gifts of pianos, wireless sets, and indoor games will be welcomed by the Command Welfare Officer, Hut 26, Steeles Road, Stanhope Lines, Aldershot.’

Over 50 years on, a reunion booklet from NZ recalled, in detail that required only slight amendment, the Arms Park game above…. During WW2 Maori Battalion teams fared very well against many of the Unit and international fifteens. In England, during the winter of 1940-41, the Maori Battalion team showed such superiority, that the Welsh Rugby Union invited it to play on the ground made famous by the 1905 All Blacks, when Deans’ try was disallowed. After a long train ride in the cold, the team arrived at Cardiff at midnight. The next morning the team visited the ground and were shown the spot where Deans had ‘scored.’ The side included M. Delamere, M. Francis, T. Paraone, E. Howell, P. Kurupo, B. Jacobs, Bubu Matenga, G. Harrison (Capt.), A. Wanoa, N. Carroll, L. Harris, T. Timihou, P. Kutia, W. Cooper & G. Pitman. The game was played at a tremendous pace. Bunny Jacobs was caught offside and the hosts kicked a goal. Then came a repetition of the famous disputed Deans ‘try’. In a melee on the Cardiff line, one of the Maori forwards dived over. The referee was unsighted and the try was disallowed. Many spectators booed the referee. Five certain points and the usual shot in the arm for the Maoris was lost. The Welsh scored soon scored a gem of a try. Stung by this reverse the Maori backs swung into action. Eddie Howell, playing magnificently, received from Bubu Matenga, drew Bunny Jacobs’ man then unloaded to Bunny who sped through the gap to score. Thousands of hats flew into the air. Delamere missed an easy kick. Two more kicks by the Welsh clinched the game. The hosts presented ties to the Maoris later.

Wilf Wooller, the famous international played in this game. Opposing Bunny Jacobs was a youngster who in 1950 toured New Zealand with the Lions team. (This would have been Bleddyn Williams, doubtless). He was a mere slip of a lad in 1940, but a very efficient one at that. Over 12,000 spectators watched not only the game, but also the skies above, for German bombers…..1

About the Author-  The article above is taken from Howard Evans and Phil Atkinson’s ‘War Games: Rugby Union during the Second World War’, published by St David’s Press and the first book to pull together in detail much of the rugby played 1939-1946, including the hugely-successful NZEF ‘Kiwis’ postwar tour

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War Games: Rugby on the home front during the Second World War

The UK rugby season, such as it was, closed at the end of April, 1940: whereupon Hitler launched his assault in the west, into Scandinavia, then through Holland and Belgium, once again, into France. Churchill replaced Chamberlain on May 10th and battle was joined.

It was not long-lasting, the German plan working shockingly well. The British Expeditionary Force, which had hoped to help defend France, retreated before the month’s end to Dunkirk, where a mixture of bravery, stubbornness, luck and Nazi over-confidence in their Luftwaffe allowed over 330,000 British and Allied troops to be evacuated by ships big and, famously, little. They had, vitally, lived to fight another day. To be precise, a D-Day, exactly four years later…..

In Britain, rationing of basic foods and meat had begun, while in the seas around her, U-boats were hitting shipping, including that bringing supplies. France surrendered on 25 June, for the north to become occupied, the ‘Vichy’ south collaborationist. Japan, Hitler’s other friend, was meanwhile making strong progress in China and the Pacific, helping increase the ‘isolationist’ USA’s fears and their aid to the Allies.

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Vichy France propaganda poster 

As Hitler planned the invasion of a Britain he hadn’t expected to have to fight, he needed to ensure supremacy in the air. So, as the second season of war-time rugby began in September 1940, the skies above southern and eastern England saw the fighters and bombers of the Luftwaffe opposed by the ‘Few’: Churchill’s lauded young RAF pilots, many of whom were to come from the Dominions, in the pivotal Battle of Britain.
Eventually and probably mistakenly, Hitler turned from the heavy airfield attack losses to blitzing London and other cities instead. (The rugby grounds at Cardiff Arms Park and Bath, amongst others, were to suffer from bomb damage in coming years). As Londoners proved ‘they could take it’, though, clubs outside London, including Gloucester, were organizing sides and following the example of clubs such as Rosslyn Park in encouraging fundraising games.

For instance, on Sept 21 at Clifton College, Bristol, a crowd of well over 3,000 paid one shilling each to see ex-English cap Rev. Peter W.P. Brook’s XV beat an Empire XV 23-21 in a clash in aid of the Red Cross. It is uncertain as to who played, but many internationals were selected and the Empire side included New Zealander Eric W.T. Tindill as captain and the two Hook brothers (Bob and Bill) from Gloucester in the back division.

Oct 19 – Len Corbett’s West of England XV 25 Empire XV 8 (at Bath).
Corbett’s XV included Ronnie R. Morris (Swansea/Bristol/Wales) and the Empire XV included (W.E.) Jones, Travers, Maurice J. Daly (London Irish/Ireland), (C) Matthews, plus the NZ Services trio of Cyril S. Pepper, (Eric) Tindill and Sgt. T.G. Fowler, who gained the Military Medal and had played for Taranaki and the North Island). Pepper and Tindill had both toured GB with the 1935-36 All Blacks.

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Rev Brook’s XV v a Welsh Army XV

Nov 2 – Rev. Peter W.P. Brook’s West of England XV 11 Welsh Army XV 16 (at Clifton College).
Welsh Army XV – Harold Westcombe Isaac (Newport); (C) Matthews (Bridgend), (D.A.) Brown (Cardiff), (R.R.) Morris, Lyn Williams (Cardiff); (W.E.) Jones (Neath), A. N. Other; W.G. Jones, Travers, W. Gough, Ernie Coleman (all Newport), Les Spence (Cardiff), Leslie Paul, P.T. Jones (both Newport), Samuel W.D. Seager (Chepstow).
Tries: (Chris) Matthews 3, Morris. Cons: Brown 2.
Pic: Rev Brook’s XV v a Welsh Army XV

Nov 23 – Tommy Voyce’s XV 18 Wavell Wakefield’s XV 11 (at Kingsholm, Gloucester): the referee was Wakefield, 42, the former England captain. Over 4,000 watched the game. Also this day, the NZ Services side opened their account: a full listing follows below.

Dec 7 – Cambridge University 11 Oxford University 9 (at Oxford). Blues were not awarded.
Cambridge – Tries: (E.R.) Knapp (capt) 2, A.L. Evans. Con: G.T. Wright.
Oxford – Try/DG: P.L. Richards. Con: (E.K.) Scott (capt).

Dec 14 – Cardiff 17 Empire XV 3 (at Arms Park, Cardiff).

Dec 26 – Cardiff 16 Welsh Army XV 0 (at Arms Park, Cardiff).

With war truly under way – ‘total’ war, with civilians as well as servicemen and women under real threat and fear of enemy bombing and invasion; with retaliatory bombing of German cities and other targets; with fighting against the Italians in Africa and with the Battle of the Atlantic more than occupying the minds of the Royal and merchant navies, representative rugby was for some time less easy or viable to arrange or attend.

Meanwhile, the Exeter ground was taken over by the military, mostly for Army transport and eventually for the American forces’ preparation for D-Day. Aberavon’s ground, allotments in 1914-18, became a barrage balloon site in 1939-45, but eventually clubs like Newbridge (reserved-occupation miners predominating), Newport and Cardiff (docks trade, mining and medicine) were to benefit from some continuity and growth in strength.

Although Swansea ‘shut down’ as a club, individuals there formed the less-than-snappily-titled Swansea and West Wales Rugby War Charities Effort, and with Nazi bombs mercifully avoiding the St. Helen’s Ground, arranged a successful series of wartime ‘internationals and semi-internationals’ after 1940.

With leading professionals and amateurs in the services involved, good rugby and good crowds resulted, and over £15,000 was raised by 1945. Similar stories might be told elsewhere, with Gloucester’s impressive Rugby Heritage website, for instance, one rich source of evidence of the kind of games – and lengths – gone to in order to raise sides and charity cash by the use of the Kingsholm ground, even if the club was out of action.

Similarly, J.E. Thorneloe, secretary of Leicester, was to organize impressive XVs in his name to play a series of fundraisers, especially involving Boxing Day and Easter games against the Barbarians at Welford Road: shades of the late Edgar Mobbs and his East Midlands efforts early in the First World War.

Part Two of this article which will focus on the New Zealand Expeditionary Force will be published next week.1

About the Author- The article above is taken from Howard Evans and Phil Atkinson’s ‘War Games: Rugby Union during the Second World War’, published by St David’s Press and the first book to pull together in detail much of the rugby played 1939-1946, including the hugely-successful NZEF ‘Kiwis’ postwar tour.

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La Voulte – Small Town Heroes, 1970

La Voulte Rugby Club 1970 (4)

La Voulte-sur-Rhone is a small town of 5,000 inhabitants with a proud rugby heritage situated in the Ardeche department in the south east of France.   For one magical season in 1969-70, La Voulte was the champion club of France and winners of the much coveted ‘Bouclier de Brennus’ by defeating Montferrand in the Stade Municipal in Toulouse.  It is still one of only two clubs with fewer than 10,000 citizens to win this illustrious trophy.

La Voulte boasted the architects of the first French Grand Slam in 1968, the Camberabero brothers Guy and Lilian at half back, the Romanian international full back Mihai Wusek and two internationals in their pack, the prop Jean-Claude Noble and the second row forward Michel Savitsky, but they were not one of the fancied club sides at the beginning of the season.

Sixty four teams started the tournament and La Voulte qualified from their pool to join the last thirty two.  They beat Bayonne by 9 points to 3 and then progressed to the quarter-finals by beating Graulhet by 24-3.  In the quarter-final they faced Brive who had knocked out the young and highly fancied Beziers side in the previous round.  It was a notable scalp for Brive as Beziers would go on to win four ‘Bouclier de Brennus’ titles over the next five years.

La Voulte were the definite underdogs on neutral territory at the Stade Marcel Michelin in Clermont-Ferrand, but they overcame Brive by 18 points to 8 due to a consummate performance by the Camberabero brothers.  Lilian scored a try from the base of the scrum midway through the first half and their captain Guy kicked twelve points with three drop goals and a penalty goal.  A late unconverted try in the 78th minute by wing forward Paul Digonnet sealed their victory.

In the semi-final at the Stade Municipal in Bordeaux on May 3rd 1970, La Voulte now faced an Agen team with six internationals in its pack.  Despite an injury to Savitsky in the eighteenth minute which saw La Voulte reduced to seven forwards for the rest of the match, the boot of fly half Guy Camberabero was again decisive with two drop goals and a penalty giving the club an unexpected victory over their more fancied opponents by 9 points to 3.  They had now reached what would be their first and only French club final.

The venue for the final was the Stade Municipal in Toulouse.  In front of a crowd of 35,000 spectators, their opponents were Montferrand, the club side from Clermont-Ferrand and victors over Pau (Section Paloise) in the quarter-final and Grenoble in the semi-final.  It was Montferrand’s first appearance in the Final since 1937 and they had lost both of their previous finals.  For the first time since 1954, there was no club in the final from the South West of France.

There was just one score in a taut and tightly contested match on a grey rainy day.  In the ninth minute, the La Voulte centre Renaud Vialar scored a try in the corner after Guy Camberabero had charged down a Montferrand kick, Digonnet had kicked the ball on towards the try line and the Montferrand full back had failed to clear the danger.  Guy missed the conversion and all the other opportunities he had to increase the La Voulte lead including a last-minute drop goal attempt that hit the post.  Montferrand fared no better with their kicking and twice were held up near the La Voulte line when a score which would have won the game seemed inevitable.  In the 24th minute their winger Jean-Jacques Desvernois dropped the ball with a clear run to the try line and in the 78th minute their second row forward Robert Boisson was denied by a forward pass.

When the final whistle went, the supporters from la Voulte were ecstatic and the memories of that day and the subsequent victory parade fifty years ago are still recalled fondly in the town as evinced by pictures of the victorious team on the roundabout by the stadium.  The Camberabero family further enhanced their status in French rugby a generation later when Guy’s son Didier played 32 matches for France between 1982 and 2003 including the first Rugby World Cup Final in 1987.

While their opponents in 1970 such as Agen, Brive, Grenoble, Montferrand and Pau were able to retain their position in the rugby elite in the professional era with varying degrees of success, many regional clubs such as La Voulte struggled after 1995.  Despite two attempts to merge with other clubs such as Valence in 2010 and Romans in 2016, La Voulte has ceased to exist as an independent club in the professional era, but the town is left with the memory of a unique triumph and a special place in French rugby history.

Sources:

ASM – Le Coeur Rugby – Boisson & Buron (Editions Gerard Tisserand 2002)Encyclopédie du Rugby Français – Pierre Lafond & Jean-Pierre Bodis (Editions Dehedin 1989)Livre d’Or du Sporting Union Agenais 1900-1990 (Imprimerie Coopérative de L’Agenais 1990)Midi Olympique 90 ans 1929-2019 – Bruno Fabioux (Hugo Sport 2018)Rugby au Coeur – Cent ans d’histoire au CA Briviste – Pierre Besson (Imprimerie Lachaise 2010)Rugby 71 – Henri Garcia (Les cahiers de L’Equipe 1971)

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Dai Gent’s All-Star XV

Swansea born Dai Gent twice trialled for Wales before being selected for England. A prototype scrum-half at a time when the English were playing half-backs, he memorably partnered Adrian Stoop in the English midfield in the first test-match to be held at Twickenham, in 1910, where England beat Wales for the first time in 12 years. He won 5 caps for England between 1905 and 1910 and in later life became a rugby correspondent with The Times newspaper.

Dai Gent

The following extract in which he selects his ‘best ever’ side is from his 1922 book ‘Rugby Football’.

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The Incomparable Christophe

Some rugby grounds inspire great performances and Twickenham is no exception.  The great deeds of English players tend to dominate in the collective memories of English fans – think Richard Sharp or Andy Hancock in the 1960s – but there have been players from other countries who have reserved some of their finest performances on the rugby field for this part of south-west London.

Christophe Lamaison of France

Photo Credit: John Gichigi /Allsport

Such a player was the French three-quarter Christophe Lamaison from Brive who gave two of the finest performances by a Frenchman in two epic encounters at Twickenham in the late 1990s.  Known throughout French rugby as “Titou”, he had first appeared for France as a fly half in the two-match series against South Africa in the autumn of 1996.  I was there at the second test at Parc des Princes and, composed and always in control, Lamaison had played well in a 12-13 defeat, although his drop kicking skills let him down near the end of the match when he had the chance to kick France to victory. Continue reading

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The Greatest Game Ever Seen?

Barney Burnham recalls Wasps’ memorable run to the final of the 2004 Heineken Cup…

The semi-final game was to be played on Sunday, April the 25th. I was scheduled to work overnight on the Saturday, finishing at 5am on the Sunday. That gave me time to go home, have a shower, then dash to Heathrow to catch an earlyish flight to the Irish capital.

I arrived in the city centre shortly before the pubs opened. As I waited outside a place where I’d arranged to meet some friends, a young lady in a Munster shirt chatted with me. I told her that I’d been up all night, so I wasn’t sure whether my first pint of a certain stout would be a nightcap or breakfast. We went our separate ways, unaware that we would meet again a few weeks later, of which more anon.

The match was an epic, generally regarded as one of the greatest, if not the greatest of all club games ever played. Continue reading

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#FromTheVaults – Study for ‘Twickenham by Tram’ by Dame Laura Knight, c. 1921

This month’s featured object from the World Rugby Museum’s collection is a drawing by Dame Laura Knight (1877-1970), one of the most popular British artists of the first half of the twentieth century. Created using charcoal and poster paint, the drawing depicts a rugby player in a red jersey tackling another player in a black and white striped jersey who has possession of the ball. The drawing appears to have functioned as a preparatory study for a London Transport poster produced in 1921.

Twickenham by Tram drawing 2005-289

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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and His Passion for Rugby

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh in 1859, and went on to study medicine at Edinburgh University. It is here that he met an eccentric professor who inspired the invention of one of the best loved literary characters in history – Sherlock Holmes. With four novels and 56 short stories detailing the adventures of the sleuth, Mr Holmes has become embedded in British culture and has made 292 screen appearances to date – experiencing a surge in popularity in recent times with the BBC’s award-winning sensation Sherlock, starring heartthrob Benedict Cumberbatch. However, having strayed somewhat far from the original stories with endless modernisations, it is interesting to now revisit the tales and uncover Conan Doyle’s frequent and unmissable references to sport – and in particular, the game of rugby.

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Portrait of a Team – the Sunderland Football Club XV of 1881

03 1881

In 1881 Sunderland Football Club was victorious in the first ever Durham County Cup and the club is lucky enough to still have a hand tinted team photograph with all the players named. Continue reading

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