Often with colourful and tongue-in-cheek names such as the Old Vulgarians, Gouldburn Fermented Reds and Ye Olde Dogs of Wanneroo, it is clear that jesting is an essential element to Golden Oldies Rugby. There is a long tradition of rugby clubs fielding veteran sides, and the Golden Oldies Rugby Festival brings many of these teams together for one week every two years.
In later life Dickie Guest developed a capacity for flying below the radar. His death in May 2012 attracted only limited notice and has still to be recorded in some quarters.
But that was certainly not the case on either side of World War Two when Guest, born 100 years ago on March 12th 1918, was one of the highest profile players in English rugby. He was certainly seen that way by the young Mickey Steele-Bodger, who recalled of his first England call-up: “You’d see somebody like Dickie Guest and think ‘I’ve read about him – this is fantastic!’”.
England team v Wales, 1939
At the same time as Field Marshall Haig was issuing his ‘backs to the wall’ directive in support of the land campaign a feverish contest for air superiority was taking place in the skies. Cyril Lowe, who had been shot down in 1917, returned to France as a captain with 24 Squadron in April of 1918.
In a line of duty that famously had a life expectancy of just seventeen days, Lowe had little time to adapt to his new role as pilot of the single-seater SE5a. On the 19th May he was appointed escort for a wing of DH4 bombers plotting a raid over Chaulnes. Payload was successfully delivered at 8.15am and the twelve aircraft from 24 Squadron turned and headed back to base. They were soon intercepted by six Fokker tri-planes and seven Fokker bi-planes. An enormous dogfight ensued.
One of the British pilots wrote the following account of the engagement: Continue reading
As we approach the Easter weekend it seems apt to take a look at the renowned Barbarians Easter tours.
A unique club, with a unique ethos, the Barbarian Football Club was founded in 1890 by Percy “Tottie” Carpmael and became one of the most famous rugby clubs in the world. The Baa-Baas have no clubhouse, no home ground and membership is by invitation only.
The following is an extract from ‘Doing their Duty‘ by Phil McGowan and refers to the preparations before and during the 1918 German Spring Offensive…
Lieutenant Colonel Livesay (2 caps 1898-1899) had been redeployed over the winter to the American staff school to assist with the incoming recruits. By spring however he was with the 61st Division who lined up alongside Captain Harold Hodges (2 caps 1906) and the 30th Division in a position north of Ham, to the south of St Quentin. On the night of the 20th March some of Livesay’s men launched a daring night-time raid on the German trenches opposite, taking a number of prisoners, some of whom revealed that an attack was imminent.
The advance warning of the German ‘Kaiserschlacht’, gave the depleted Fifth Army a crucial window of opportunity in which an intermittent bombardment was launched on the enemy positions. It wasn’t enough to prevent the coming storm however. To the north at Nurlu Lieutenant Colonel Ritson (9 caps 1908-1913) observed the colossal artillery assault that enveloped Livesay and Hodges’ positions at 4.40am the following morning. Winston Churchill, who was with Ritson’s 9th Scottish Division described the scenes thus: Continue reading
Rugby School, 1923
In times of celebration or commemoration, rugby matches involving combined teams, such as England & Wales and Scotland & Ireland, have taken place to mark the occasion.
Currently on display at the World Rugby Museum, this mini exhibition takes a look at four such matches, from 1923 to 1970, where the long held rivalries between the home nations were put aside.
Highlights of the exhibition include:
- 1923 Jersey England & Wales worn by Cecil Kershaw
- 1959 Ball autographed by the England & Wales and Scotland & Ireland teams
- 1971 Gift from the Welsh Rugby Union to the Rugby Football Union to mark the RFU’s centenary year
Unlikely Alliances will be exhibiting until early April 2018. Tickets for the World Rugby Museum are purchased from the England Rugby Store in the South Stand of Twickenham Stadium. Or why not combine your visit with a Twickenham Stadium Tour?
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A year after the world sadly lost illustrator Murray Ball, the World Rugby Museum remembers his wit, politics and love of rugby. Creator of the iconic Footrot Flats comic, the New Zealander left his mark on rugby history in the 1980s when he dramatically withdrew his character Dog as the mascot of the All Blacks.