Merry Christmas from the World Rugby Museum!


This Christmas Card was made in Bavaria, Germany and is believed to date from the late 19th Century. Printed on the inside is the following poem-

“With fortune’s football at your feet

This merry Christmas Day,

May you attain your goal, and meet

With few kicks on the way”

Handwritten on the reverse is the simple message-

‘To Ted from Daisy’


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all at the World Rugby Museum!

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The Rugby Club that Volunteered

Keith Gregson, Sunderland RFC’s archivist and historian has, through a combination of knowledge, effort and luck, pieced together the wartime records of all 45 rugby players who were selected to play for Sunderland RFC 1st, 2nd and 3rd XVs on 17 January 1914 – just over 6 months before the outbreak of the First World War. This is an abridged introduction to the full work, Can you do nothing to mend my broken heart? THE ASHBROOKE BOYS – A SPORTS CLUB AT WAR (1914 -18) which is available to purchase.

Sunderland 1911-12

Members of the 1911/12 Sunderland RFC 1st XV. Front row (L-R) Charles Pickersgill, John Hopper and John Gillies; back row (L-R) Herbert Todd and Edward Moore, James Adamson and William Laing). All saw active service in the First World War. Pickersgill was wounded; Laing became a prisoner of war; Moore and Adamson never returned.

On that particular Saturday Sunderland Rugby Football Club (SRFC) 1st XV played Monkseaton 1st XV at Sunderland’s Ashbrooke ground while the 2nd XV reversed the fixture.  The 3rd XV was due to travel to Durham City to take on Bede College.

Of the 45 chosen to represent SRFC on 17 January 1914, twelve died as a result of the war.

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Charlie Pritchard – “I have done my bit”

In late April 1911, the Monmouthshire Evening Post reported on a charity game held at Rodney Parade.  A “Married” team was turned out in a variety of shirts owned by the side’s skipper, Charlie Pritchard.  A fixture in the fearsome Newport side for the first decade of the twentieth century, Charlie was a core forward in the Welsh pre-First World War “Golden Age” side.  Most famously, he was many pundits’ choice as “Man of the Match” on that famous day in December 1905 when Wales beat the All Blacks.  He is sat in the centre of the shot, the ball resting on his bandaged knee, his gentle gaze fixed on the camera.  He is proudly wearing an All Black shirt.  On his left is another Newport legend, George Boots, who is wearing an Anglo-Welsh touring shirt from 1908.  Two to his right is Jehoida Hodges, sporting a Springbok shirt from their very first tour in 1906. There are also shirts from Australia (again, the Wallabies’ first ever tour in 1908), each of the Home nations, an Ulster shirt and from club sides such as Cardiff and Watsonians. To see Charlie’s collection of shirts is to see a potted history of the growth of the game.

Charlie Pritchard

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Lest We Forget – Fred Leonard Perrett (Wales) 01/12/1918

Across this blog and other social media channels, the World Rugby Museum has commemorated every international rugby player to fall during the First World War. Today is the final entry in the ‘Lest We Forget’ series. With thanks to all those who have contributed articles over the past 4 years.  

And so we reach our final entry in the 'Lest We Forget' series. 

Photo Credit: Welsh Rugby Union

By the end of October 1918, Fred Perrett had been on active service on the Western Front for three years and, having already been twice wounded, he may well have felt that he had done his bit.  For three months now, the German army had been on the retreat and rumours of a ceasefire were spreading.  Tragically, however, only a week before the Armistice was signed, Fred was to be caught up in the last major British offensive of the war, the Battle of the Sambre. Continue reading

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The England International who was sunk at Jutland…

Sydney Coopper was secretary of the RFU from 1924 to 1947.  In 1916 his ship was sunk during the nighttime exchanges during the Battle of Jutland.  Coopper survived.  This is the story of what happened that night on board HMS Sparrowhawk…

Coopper v Scotland 1907

Having had the worst of the daytime exchanges British Admiral John Jellicoe ordered his fleet to spread out in the hope of cutting off the attempted retreat of the German High Seas Fleet.  As the sun slipped over the horizon it would be the smaller craft and destroyer flotillas that continued the battle at close range throughout the night. Continue reading

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Lest We Forget – Reginald Oscar Schwarz (England) 18/11/2018

Reginald Oscar Schwarz, who was born in Lee in South London, is perhaps better known as a South African test cricketer than as an England rugby international.  His father Robert was a merchant who had been born in Germany, but had become a naturalized British citizen, and his mother Florence came from an industrial background in north-east England.  As well as Reginald, they had a son Robert, and a daughter Elsa.


Photo from “Great War – London”

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SPECIAL EXHIBITION – Brave Blossoms: the History of Rugby in Japan

‘Brave Blossoms: the History of Rugby in Japan’ is produced in partnership with ‘England Rugby Travel’ and ‘Kanto District Transport Bureau’.

As the rugby world turns towards the land of the rising sun in anticipation of Asia’s first Rugby World Cup, the World Rugby Museum is delighted to present its new special exhibition ‘Brave Blossoms: the History of Rugby in Japan’.

Featuring new research and objects drawn from around the world, this special exhibition tells the story of how Japan transitioned from the late Edo to early Meiji period and the role that rugby union played in establishing educational and diplomatic links, initially between Japan and Great Britain and then the wider sporting world.


Graphic Magazine, 1874

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