Lest We Forget – David “Dai” Westacott (Wales) 28/08/1917

David “Dai” Westacott

“Dai” Westacott had just one cap at forward for Wales but might have expected more, since he played for Cardiff for seven seasons during one of the club’s most successful periods.  However, he had the misfortune to be selected for what turned out to be one of Welsh rugby’s most disappointing international performances in the years leading up to the First World War.

In 1905-6, Wales were in the middle of their First Golden Era, a twelve year period of astonishing success, which included six Triple Crowns.  In March 1906, they only had to beat Ireland in Belfast to achieve what no other international side had yet managed: a consecutive Triple Crown.  And, having defeated New Zealand the previous December, they would also become the first side to record four wins in a season.

However, it was not to be.   Continue reading

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Vodka, Monsters and a disputed third place: the 1991 Women’s Rugby World Cup

The first Women’s Rugby World Cup could easily not have occurred.  The International Rugby Board refused to recognise the tournament, 600 potential sponsors were consulted with not a single one interested in supporting the event, and a number of unions refused sponsorship for their national women’s teams, who then had to pay their own way.  In spite of the odds, the women persevered and the participating nations came together in Wales from 6-14 April 1991 to show the world that rugby was not exclusively a sport for men.

England's Gill Burns on Women's Rugby World Cup programme 1991.

England’s Gill Burns on the cover of the official tournament programme.

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New Zealand’s Second Lieutenant Kaipara

A member of the inaugural New Zealand Maori team of 1910, Autini Pitara Kaipara was described by his peers as an outstanding rugby footballer.  Leaving behind rugby for the battlefields of Europe in 1914, Kaipara gave his life for his country at Passchendaele on the 4th of August 1917.

Kaipara portrait, Auckland Weekly News 1917 - No known copyright restrictions

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Lest We Forget – Edgar Roberts Mobbs (England), 31/07/1917

Mobbs

Edgar Roberts Mobbs was born in Northampton.  He was one of six children of Oliver Linnel Mobbs and his wife Elizabeth Anne.  His father was an engineer and his mother came from a background in shoemaking, for which Northampton was famous.

Edgar’s education was at Bedford Modern School, where records show him as a modest scholar who was taken away early and put to work, being at one time a car salesman and later director of the Pytchley Auto Car Company.

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Lest We Forget – Arthur James Wilson (England), 31/07/1917

ARTHUR JAMES WILSON

Photo courtesy of Glenalmond College

Arthur James Wilson was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, the son of Henry Bainbridge Wilson and his wife Emily Jane.  Henry was a wool, skin and hide broker, and Emily’s father was a master rope maker.  In all they had five children, of whom Arthur was the youngest.

From 1900 he spent four years at Glenalmond College in Perthshire, where he became a prefect and was a regular member of the rugby XV and of the cricket XI in his final two years.

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Passchendaele and the last moments of Edgar Mobbs, 31st July 1917

Mobbs, Edgar Roll of Honour

By capturing the village of Passchendaele, the British hoped to progress in the direction of the Belgian coast where the Allies might curtail the threat of the German U-boat.  After long deliberation Prime Minister Lloyd George agreed Field Marshal Haig’s plan and zero-hour was set for 3.50 am on the morning of the 31st July, after a fifteen-day four million shell bombardment.

Lieutenant Colonel Mobbs had made his battalion headquarters inside a waterlogged trench in advance of Hill 60, where Fin Todd had been shot two years earlier.  Further south Lieutenant Colonel Livesay and the New Zealand Division were forming up on the edge of the front line on the southern extremity of Messines Ridge.

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Ireland 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup

The Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 is around the corner, taking place in Belfast and Dublin from 9-26 August 2017.  The Irish Rugby Football Union was chosen to host the eighth Women’s tournament in May 2015 and looks set to deliver a phenomenal event.

WRWC-78

The Women’s Rugby World Cup. Photo: Joe Bailey @FiveSix Photography / World Rugby.

With its beginnings as an invitational event in 1991 to one with a hefty qualification process, the Women’s Rugby World Cup has ingrained itself as a major international competition in the sporting calendar.  The importance of the tournament extends further than the event itself, with World Rugby explaining that the tournament ‘’is extending the reach of women’s rugby to new audiences, inspiring participation, interest and engagement.’’

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