Rugby Raptors: The History of Birds of Prey at Twickenham Stadium

Twickenham has had a long history of welcoming birds of prey through its gates for various reasons. Initially, they were a necessity, employed to deal with the stadium’s serious pigeon problem, but now they come of their own accord.

Until 2012, Harris Hawks were brought in on a weekly basis from local pest control firm Hawkforce. Pigeons had become a nuisance, gathering in large numbers to feast on grass seed, preventing turf regrowth and therefore damaging the grounds. Though weekly hawk flights did not eradicate their presence altogether, they did scare the pigeons enough to stop them nesting in the stadium, limiting the damage caused by reducing the feral pests to visitors, rather than residents.

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Argentina’s First Test Match

Earlier in the year, Eduardo García Sáenz provided a tour report of the British & Irish Lions 1910 tour of Argentina. Here he provides more detail, including local match reports, on Argentina’s first ever test-match on the same tour.

Photo Credit: ARCHIVO GENERAL de la NACIÓN
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‘L’art du drop goal’ – a French phenomenon?

Kicking a drop goal has often proved a decisive factor in the winning of matches at international level since the second match between England and Scotland at The Oval in 1872 when Harold Freeman for England and Charles Cathcart for Scotland each scored a drop goal. 

Some prolific drop goal specialists in recent years come to mind – England’s Rob Andrew and world record holder Jonny Wilkinson; Scotland’s John Rutherford and Dan Parks; Ireland’s Ronan O’Gara and the Welsh fly half maestros Barry John and Jonathan Davies; Phil Hawthorne of Australia and South Africa’s Naas Botha and Jannie de Beer, architect of England’s downfall in the 1999 World Cup with five sensational second-half drop goals in twenty five minutes.

Jannie De Beer during South Africa v England, 24/10/1999, Stade de France.
(Photo Credit: Dave Rogers/Allsport)
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#FromTheVaults – British Isles Dinner Menu, 1904

This month we wanted to share with you this charming little dinner menu from the British Isles tour to Australia and New Zealand in 1904 – the first time a British team played both countries on the same tour. The dinner, held in honour of the visitors, was hosted by the Otago and Southland Rugby Union at the Coffee Palace, Dunedin on Wednesday 10th August, 1904.

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Durham County’s Golden Era

The annual County Championship was one of English rugby union’s leading competitions from the 1890s through to the professional era in 1995.  It provided a vital stepping stone for emerging players from leading rugby clubs and outstanding performances for their counties often propelled them on to international recognition.

Yorkshire was the dominant county until the schism of 1895 over broken-time payments which led to the formation of the Northern Union and the game of rugby league.  By the turn of the century, different counties had risen to the fore but, despite the ravages that rugby league inflicted on clubs in the north of England, the county of Durham remained a source of clubs and exceptionally talented players who were at the forefront of English rugby up to the outbreak of the 1st World War.

Durham v Cornwall, 27/03/1909, Hartlepool
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International Triplets

Photographs of the three BARRETT brothers standing in line for the national anthems before starting for the All Blacks in the 1st test against France in June 2018 gained much coverage on and off line, but this was not the first time they had been picked in an All Black squad. 

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – JUNE 09: Jordie Barrett, Scott Barrett and Beauden Barrett of the All Blacks stand for the national anthem during the International Test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and France at Eden Park on June 9, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

Beauden Barrett was the first-choice fly half against Samoa at Eden Park in June 2017 with his two younger brothers, Scott and Jordi, on the bench.  Although Scott came on in the 51st minute, Beauden was replaced two minutes before Jordi came on in the 63rd minute and so the three brothers had not yet played together on the pitch in an international.  Similarly, in the 3rd test against the British Lions later that season, Scott came on in the 78th minute by which time Jordi had been substituted with his brother Beauden having moved from fly half to replace him at full back.  To date the three Barrett brothers have taken the field in 13 international matches but have only started together in five of those matches.

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Who was Constantin Henriquez?

Born in Haiti, Constantin Henriquez arrived in France in 1893 to study medicine. A keen sportsman, he played rugby as a number 8, wing and centre for both Olympique de Paris and Stade Francais, winning the French Championship in 1897, 1898 and 1901.

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#FromTheVaults – Barbarians Jersey, 1903

At the start of 2020 we revived an old “Object of the Month” feature and now after a brief hiatus, our #FromTheVaults series is back!

With the Barbarians returning to Twickenham this month, albeit behind closed doors, we wanted to highlight an example of the famous black and white hooped jersey currently on display in the World Rugby Museum.

Founded in 1890 by William Percy Carpmael, the Barbarian Football Club is an invitational touring rugby team. Carpmael, who played for Blackheath and Cambridge University, invited players from various rugby clubs to form a team to tour the north of England following the end of the rugby season in March. The criteria for a player’s selection was twofold: their rugby must be of a high standard, and they must have a good behavioural record on and off the pitch. Carpmael’s club sought to promote good-fellowship amongst players, as reflected by the club motto: “Rugby Football is a game for gentlemen in all classes, but for no bad sportsman in any class”.

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Murrayfield in December 1978

Some sporting occasions remain etched in your memory for ever and can be recalled at will.

Such a one is a moment in the gathering gloom at a packed Murrayfield on a cold and damp afternoon in December 1978 with a valiant Scottish team 9-12 in arrears.  After the Scottish pack had driven upfield to their opponent’s 22 metre line in the 77th minute of the match, the ball was passed back to their fly half and captain Ian McGeechan.  He had already kicked one drop goal and, if he could land a second one, it was likely that the match would end in a draw and the 8th All Blacks would be deprived of their much sought first Grand Slam over the four home nations on a full tour of the United Kingdom.  The 2nd All Blacks in 1924-25 had been unbeaten in 30-matches in the UK and France but had not played Scotland on that tour.

New Zealand team to UK, 1978
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Ernie Crawford – a legendary Irish full back

William Ernest Crawford (1891-1959)

The Irish selectors alighted on the Lansdowne and Leinster player William Ernest ‘Ernie’ Crawford as their full back when they chose the team for the first post-war Ireland international against England at Lansdowne Road, Dublin on February 14th 1920.

Ernie Crawford had endured a long wait for his first international rugby cap at the age of twenty eight.  Born in Belfast on November 17th 1891 and educated at Methodist College, he had played for Malone and Ulster from 1910 until the outbreak of the First World War.  He was captain of Malone for the 1912-13 and 1913-14 seasons and played for Ulster against the touring South Africa side in December 1912. 

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