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

Posted in Countries, France, International Players, Rugby World Cup | 3 Comments

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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“How Newport Won the Springbok’s Head”

The following description of the 1912 match between Newport and South Africa is an extract from the 1948 book ‘Rugby Recollections’ by WJ Townsend Collins (aka ‘Dromio’), who was a poet and correspondent from Newport.

When the South Africans came to Britain in 1912, under the captaincy of W. A. Millar, they brought with them a stuffed Springbok’s Head, to be presented to the team who first defeated them.  They had the trophy with them at Newport on October 24th: it went no farther, for they were unexpectedly beaten.

1912 SA Ref-6

The South Africans were taller, heavier, stronger, faster; yet they could not win. Why? Continue reading

Posted in Clubs, Countries, South Africa, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Story of the Siam Cup

On 9th May 1945, the Channel Islands were liberated by British forces following five years of German occupation. During that period, one object – now in the World Rugby Museum – had a particularly lucky escape. On the 75th anniversary of liberation, we bring you the story of the Siam Cup, a trophy with a secret.

Siam Cup

The Siam Cup is the second-oldest contested rugby trophy after the Calcutta Cup. It is a circular rose bowl made of Siamese silver and set upon an ebony base, altogether measuring 32cm in height with a 27cm diameter on the silver bowl. The silver is intricately decorated with figures of dancing girls and elephant heads. Around the base are silver plaques engraved with the cup winning teams since 1920. Continue reading

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