Stoddart sells the Natives short

Andrew Ernest Stoddart Baines Card

Andrew Ernest Stoddart Baines Card

In February of 1889, during a test-match against the touring New Zealand Natives, England’s AE Stoddart, whilst on the attack, lost a ‘portion’ of his shorts. As was the custom, Stoddart’s team-mates formed a circle around him to protect his modesty whilst he collected himself. As this was taking place, to everyone’s surprise, England’s loose-head prop Frank Evershed took advantage of the distraction to score a try.

Most of the 12,000 spectators expected sporting protocol to be followed and the try to be ruled out. To their surprise the referee awarded the score and England went on to win the match. The referee was RFU Secretary George Rowland Hill.

Taken from the World Rugby Museum ‘Wall of Shame’ gallery – Rugby Moments.

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4 Responses to Stoddart sells the Natives short

  1. Phil Mead says:

    Whilst I was playing rugby, starting in 1954, I witness the procedure of changing shorts being circled by your team mates. I remember a large cartoon advertisement for Lewes Rugby Club Ball, outside the Town Hall where the Ball was going to be held, depicting this ritual, but not shorts being through out, but a pair of ladies panties. As the damaged shorts were throw out of the circle everyone cheered! That tradition now seems to be lost?

    Poor workmanship to allow that try. Didn’t Rowland hill penalise the All Blacks heavily when they introduce their loose forward?

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  2. Thanks for sharing this Phil. It’s good to hear that sporting etiquette was still being observed in the 1950s.

    It was Billy Williams who is reported to have blown up 90 times for infringement during a Surrey v New Zealand tie in 1905. At the time some didn’t approve of the spoiling tactics of All-Black loose-forwards such as Dave Gallaher. However Cherry Pillman was performing the same function for England a few seasons later.

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  3. Huw Richards says:

    Losing his shorts seems to have been a habit of Stoddart’s – it happened on his debut against Wales at Blackheath in 1886 and he left the field for several minutes before returning to kick the winning goal.
    Twickenham has perhaps the best example of this type of incident. On Scotland’s first visit in 1911 George Cunningham went round England full-back Stanley Williams but lost his shorts to Williams’ attempted tackle. He had a clear run to the line, but as a man of his time (and one shortly destined for a distinguished career as a colonial administrator in India, winding up as Sir George) he promptly sat down to preserve decency and await a replacement pair of shorts. Scotland lost a match they might otherwise have drawn 13-8 ( there were only five points for a try and goal in those days). This inaugurated a tradition of losing at Twickenham (only four wins in 102 years, by far the worst record of any of the established Five Nations away to another) which lasts to this day

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