Dutour de France: A French debut at Twickenham

England and France first met for a match of international rugby in 1906.  Whilst England had been playing rugby for 35 years by this stage, France was new to the international rugby scene.  Having only played one previous international match against New Zealand, it was soon time for France to try their hand against England.  The two teams would meet annually from this point onward, but five years later, the teams would make history once more by meeting for the first time at England’s new home of rugby, Twickenham Stadium.

E v F 1911 touch flag

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Dual Identity: Two Women’s Rugby Players Capped For Two Countries (Each!)

As the NatWest 6 Nations continued this weekend, our women’s rugby historian Lydia Furse has been exploring those who have played at the national representative senior level for more than one country.

Pulling on the shirt.  Singing the national anthem.  These are honours that many of us dream of, but only an elite few ever get to achieve, following years of hard work and dedication.  For most, representing your country for the first time is a once in a lifetime experience.  However, there are a select few in the history of rugby who have played for two different countries.

Here we look at 2 examples from the women’s game: Debbie Francis, and Rimma Lewis.  Continue reading

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The Remarkable Story of Humphrey Luya

By Huw Richards

England team v Ireland 1948

England team v Ireland 1948

The face in the middle of the back row of the England and Lancashire team groups from 1948 compels attention.  Slightly taller than his team-mates and with short, receding fair hair, he has an air of maturity and knowing that there is more to life than sport.

Lock forward Humphrey Luya was born 100 years ago this month on 3rd February 1918, so just over 30 when the pictures were taken.  Educated at Merchant Taylor’s School, Crosby, he had graduated to playing for Waterloo before being commissioned in the Royal Artillery in 1939.

He served in North Africa before becoming one of 12,000 Allied troops captured following the doomed defence of Crete in June 1941.  Continue reading

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Lest We Forget – George Alexander Walker Lamond (Scotland) 25/02/1918

G A W Lamond

On February 25th 1918 Lieutenant-Colonel George Alexander Walker (Geo) Lamond died in the military hospital at Colombo in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) aged 39.  A civil engineer by profession, he had seen active service in France before being sent to Mesopotamia in August 1917 to be in charge of the construction and organisation of the new port and works on the Twin Rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates.  He died from pneumonia brought on by a fever caught in Mesopotamia from where he had been invalided to Colombo.

By the time the First World War started, his distinguished rugby career was very much in the past.  Born in Glasgow on July 23rd 1878, he was educated at Kelvinside Academy and first played for Kelvinside Academicals, the Old Boys rugby club, in 1895 at the age of sixteen.  He played in the centre for Glasgow against Edinburgh in the inter-city match for three years, scoring a drop goal in his final appearance in the series on December 3rd 1898.  Continue reading

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The Man Who Wore the World’s Oldest International Rugby Jersey

John Henry Clayton only played one international match of rugby in his life, but it was a match to be remembered.  On March 27th 1871, Clayton, along with nineteen other Englishmen, would take on a Scottish Twenty at Raeburn Place for the first ever international rugby match.  Played in front of 4,000 spectators, this game would be the start of a rugby rivalry that continues to this day.

Clayton jersey

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Scotland v England touch flag, 1925


This month saw the beginning of the 2018 Natwest 6 Nations Championship.  Ahead of this year’s Calcutta Cup match we are highlighting this touch flag which is currently on display in the Six Nations gallery of the new World Rugby Museum.

Between 1883 and 1909 the Home Unions (England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales) played each other in an annual series of friendly matches.  In 1910 France joined the series, playing matches against all of the Home Union teams, beginning what became known as the Five Nations Championship.  Up until the early 1990s there was no trophy for this tournament.  Rugby was still an amateur sport, and the idea of official competitions was frowned upon by many.  The tournament became known as the Six Nations Championship in 2000 when Italy joined. Continue reading

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In Loving Memory of Poor Old England (1905)

1905 was an exciting year in Cardiff.  In recognition of the city’s importance as one of the great economic and industrial successes of the age, Cardiff was granted city-status by King Edward VII; the National Museum was founded in Cardiff; and for rugby fans, Cardiff was the location of some fantastic international rugby from a Wales side on the cusp of global preeminence.  The day that kick-started the glorious year for Welsh rugby was 14th January 1905, when England were heavily defeated by the home side at Cardiff Arms Park. Using a bit of twisted humour, a funeral notice was produced for ‘Poor Old England’ who lost 25-0 on that fateful day.


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