Goals From A Mark, 1871 – 1914


AE Stoddart

On January 2nd 1886 towards the end of the first half of their match against Wales when they were leading by two tries to nil, the English forward CH (Charles) Elliot caught a miscued kick for touch by the Welsh full back DH (Harry) Bowen on the full and claimed a mark.  Instead of taking the kick himself, he handed the ball to the renowned dual cricket and rugby international AE (Andrew) Stoddart who proceeded to kick the first goal from a mark in international rugby.

From 1871 to 1977, a goal from a mark (GMk) could be scored when a player on the attacking side caught a ball kicked by the opposing side before it touched the ground.  At the same time as catching the ball, the player needed to be stationary and had to plant the heel of one of his feet in the ground.  This was deemed to be a fair catch and permitted the attacking side to consider a free kick at goal which could be taken by any of the players on the attacking side.  If the ball travelled between the posts from this free kick, a goal from a mark was scored.  When points scoring was introduced in the 1890s, a GMk was worth 3 points in the 1890/91 season; 4 points from the 1891/92 to 1904/05 seasons; and 3 points from the 1905/06 season to its abolition in 1977 when GMks were replaced by free kicks where a direct attempt to kick a goal was not permitted.

In total only 27 goals from a mark were scored in 26 international rugby matches between 1886 and 1977.  14 of these GMks were scored before the 1st World War and some of these goals had a significant impact on the results of individual games as well as ensuring legendary status for some of the matches and the kickers of these goals.

In February 1887 when Scotland beat Ireland convincingly in Belfast, the Scottish forward CW (Charles) Berry opened the scoring in the first half with a GMk.  Four years later, on the first British Isles tour of South Africa, the English full back WG (Willie) Mitchell played in all 20 tour matches and kicked a GMK, the only points of the match to defeat South Africa 3-0 at Kimberley in the 2nd test of the three-match series.  Once again it was a miskick that let to Mitchell making his mark just outside the 25 line and under a yard from touch.  In the words of a South African newspaper, “Mitchell made a shot for goal.  The ball flew direct for its mark and, landing on the cross bar, bounced between the uprights.  Great applause greeted this splendid feat.”


RE Lockwood

In January 1894 England surprisingly thrashed Wales 24-3 at Birkenhead Park during which RE (Dicky) Lockwood and HH (Henry) Taylor each set a new English record by scoring 9 points in an international match.  Taylor’s tally included a goal from a mark made by the English centre, CA (Charles) Hooper.  A year later in an extraordinary match at Raeburn Place in Edinburgh for which the length of the pitch was reduced by 15-20 yards because the North end of the pitch was frozen, the legendary Welsh full back WJ (Billy) Bancroft kicked a drop goal from his own mark but in a losing cause as Wales were defeated by Scotland 4-5.

In February 1897, Ireland defeated England 13-9 in a frenetic match at Lansdowne Road. The powerful Lansdowne right wing LQ (Larry) Bulger set a new Irish record by scoring 7 points in the match including an important GMk that took Ireland into a 10-3 lead at half time.

WJ Bancroft

The final GMk of the 19th century was scored by the West of Scotland forward WJ (William) Thomson in Scotland’s 21-10 victory over Wales on March 4th 1899, a match that had been postponed four times due to the grounds being frozen.

The early 20th century saw the arrival of the All Blacks on the international scene.  In their first ever international against Australia in Sydney in August 1903, their full back WJ (Billy) Wallace – another of the all-time great full backs – set a new world record by scoring 13 points in their 22-3 victory.  His 13 points uniquely included 2 goals from marks, the only time that feat was accomplished in the history of international rugby.  In January 1904 the Welsh full back HB (Bert) Winfield saved the day by kicking a GMk from just inside the English half right at the end of the match to secure a 14-14 draw against England in Leicester.


PF Bush

Later in 1904 a British Isles team toured Australia and New Zealand, playing three tests in Australia and one in New Zealand.  One of their stars was the elusive Welsh fly half PF (Percy) Bush who scored a record 11 points including a GMk in their 17-3 victory over Australia in the 2nd test in Brisbane.  In February 1906, the young Cambridge University winger KG (Kenneth) MacLeod kicked an important GMk to help secure a 13-6 victory for Scotland in Dublin and, a year later, the Irish centre and future champion tennis player JC (Cecil) Parke kicked a GMk to open the scoring in Ireland’s 17-9 victory over England.  The 14th and final pre-war GMk was scored by the Queensland full back, PP (Phil) Carmichael, in Australia’s very heavy 6-26 defeat to the All Blacks in Sydney in the 1st test of their 1907 tour to New Zealand.


  • History of Welsh International Rugby – John Billot (Roman Way Books 1999)
  • Men in Black (Commemorative 20th Century Edition) – Chester, Palenski & McMillan (Hodder Moa Beckett 2000)
  • The Book of English International Rugby – John Griffiths (Willow Books 1982)
  • The History of Scottish Rugby – Sandy Thorburn (Johnston & Bacon 1980)
  • John Hammond Scrapbook 1891-1907 – private – held in the World Rugby Museum

About the Author- A professional musician and arts administrator, Richard Steele has had a life-long love of sport.  He has been on the committee of the World Rugby Museum at Twickenham since 2005.

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Remembering Drewy Stoddart- ‘the most famous sportsman in Queen Victoria’s empire’

Name: Andrew Ernest Stoddart andrew-stoddart

Birthplace: Westoe

Position: Threequarter
Total Caps: 10

Calcutta Cups: 1 retained

Triple Crowns:  0

Outright Championship Victories: 0
Grand Slams: n/a
World Cups: n/a

The man dubbed ‘the most famous sportsman in Queen Victoria’s empire’ was born in County Durham in 1860.  His sporting proficiency was quickly recognised and he became only the second man in history to captain England at both cricket and rugby.

Brilliant as a wing but equally adept amongst the centres, Stoddart was described as a dashing individualist who, once in his stride, was practically unstoppable.  A fierce competitor, he won many matches with the accuracy of his drop-kicking and is known to have regularly hurdled opponents in search of the try-line.

He was first selected for England in 1885.  Between 1885 and 1889 he played in six tests without defeat. He then captained his side four times over the following four seasons.

Away from the national side he became the first captain of the Barbarians invitation side and also captained the side that would become the British and Irish Lions during their first tour in 1888.  He is also on record as being the first player to have scored an underwater try for Harlequins on a waterlogged Chislehurst Common.

He reportedly played his last games for England with elastic knee caps on both knees, anklets on both ankles and a rubber bandage on his elbow.

The following is an extract from a poem printed in Punch magazine after Stoddart had captained the English cricket team to their ashes victory in 1894/5:

Then wrote the Queen of England,

Whose hand is blessed by God,

I must do something handsome,

For my dear victorious Stod’

one-of-us-coverAbout the Author: This article is an extract from the book One of Us: England’s Greatest Rugby Players, available here.  Phil McGowan has been a member of the World Rugby Museum team since 2007.

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Remembering George Nepia

Extracted from ‘Babbled of Green Fields’ by Denzil Batchelor


The New Zealand full-back was nineteen years old, and he was the only man in the side who played every match of the tour [NZ to UK, 1925]. He was only five feet nine inches high, but he was that phenomenon among athletes, a massively built man trained as sharp set as a greyhound. He seemed to be made of mahogany. His legs were new-stripped glistering tree-trunks. His head, set on his short neck which would have buckled a guillotine, was crowned with blue-black hair, brushed back over his scalp. He had the poise of a panther: always on his toes, bent forward to spring to the kill. His eyes were no adjunct to a smile. They were for ever staring unwinkingly to the horizon, in the search for prey: the eyes of a falcon. He tackled with the sound of a thunderclap, and punted low and deep, gaining fifty yards with a wet, heavy ball with contemptuous ease in the teeth of a forward foot-rush. His unique feat was to gather a ball off the toes of a phalanx of forwards and – disdaining to fall on the ball – smash his way with it, generally backwards, through the whole ravening pack. He had played five-eighths for Hawkes Bay, learning to open up the game for his three-quarters. New Zealand only bothered to choose one full-back for their touring side. If they had chosen one half as good as Nepia he would have done the job for them.

About the Author- Denzel Stanley Batchelor was a renowned journalist, writer, playwright and broadcaster who often wrote about sport. Born in Mumbai in 1906, he witnessed first-hand the 1924 touring New Zealand side, for which Nepia played. A contemporary of CB Fry he penned at least 30 books. This extract was taken from ‘Babbled of Green Fields. An Autobiography’.  

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Lest We Forget – George Eric Burroughs Dobbs (England), 17/06/1917


Photo from Author’s collection

George Eric Burroughs Dobbs was born in Co Kilkenny, near Castlecomer where his father Joseph owned a coal mine.  Joseph had married Mary Augusta Harte in Dublin in 1878 and they had seven children, George being the 2nd of four boys.

After early education at St Stephen’s Green School in Dublin, he won a mathematics scholarship to Shrewsbury School, where the sport was association football.  Dobbs was house captain and goalkeeper, but never in the school XI.

From school he went to the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, being gazetted as 2nd Lieutenant, Royal Engineers on 23 March 1904.  Before WW1 he served in Singapore and in Limerick, where he rode with the local hunt.

He developed his rugby skills at Woolwich, playing for them and for the Royal Engineers and the Army.  At club level he had associations with Plymouth Albion and Devonport Albion and, quite surprisingly, with Llanelli, being part of the team that lost 16-3 in front of over 15,000 supporters, to the touring Springboks in 1906.  His forward play earned him two England caps that year, versus Ireland and Wales, but both games were well lost in an era of moderate England performances.

As a full-time soldier he was immediately part of the war effort with the British Expeditionary Force, and fought at the Battle of Mons in August 1914, which was the first engagement of the war for British troops.  His determination in maintaining communications during the retreat earned him the French award of the Legion d’Honneur.  His speciality was with signals, which underwent a rapid change during the war, with physical messages, via foot and via motor cycle despatch, being superseded by radio and telephone, a transition that eventually brought about the formation of the Royal Corps of Signals.


Photo courtesy of Shrewsbury School

For his capabilities and service he was three times Mentioned in Despatches.  He rapidly rose from Lieutenant eventually by 1917 being Lt Colonel and assistant director of signals.

His death came near Poperinge in Belgium on 17 June 1917, which was after the battle of Messines Ridge, but before Passchendaele (3rd Battle of Ypres).  He was prospecting for a new cable trench in the front line when he was hit by a shell.  He died shortly afterwards.

Lt Colonel GEORGE ERIC BURROUGHS DOBBS is buried Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery (Grave Reference: XIII. A. 25).

He is also remembered on the war memorial at Shrewsbury School, and on the Dobbs Family grave in St. Mary’s Castlecomer.

He did not marry.


For more information on the Rugby Football Union’s First World War commemorations visit http://www.englandrugby.com/about-the-rfu/ww1-commemorations

For details of the other 26 fallen England players click here.

The World Rugby Museum would like to thank Mike Hagger for researching and writing this article.

Follow the World Rugby Museum on Facebook and Twitter to receive further tributes to the international rugby players who fell in the Great War.

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Lest We Forget – John Edward Raphael (England), 11/06/1917

JOHN EDWARD RAPHAEL cigarette card

John Edward Raphael was born in Belgium and died in Belgium, though this did not prevent him becoming one of England’s most accomplished sportsmen of his day, exemplified by the fact that at Oxford he won 14 Blues across four sports.  This was two more than the legendary C B Fry, who has been described as England’s greatest all-round sportsman.

His father Albert was a stockbroker, whilst his mother Harriette hailed from Pembrokeshire.  John was their only child, and was initially educated at Streatham School near the family home.  He then went on to Merchant Taylors’ and to St John’s, Oxford where he read modern history.  By 1908 he had been called to the bar at Lincolns Inn, and a year later he stood for parliament as the Liberal candidate in Croydon. Though unsuccessful, he did increase his party’s vote to a record level.

Cricket and rugby were his main sports; swimming and water polo his other Blues.  He captained the school XI and, in 1904, Surrey CCC.  For Oxford he remains the only batsman ever to score a double century against Yorkshire.  At rugby from 1905 to 1910 he captained the XV for Old Merchant Taylors (OMT), for whom he played his club rugby, and he went on tour to Argentina in 1910 as captain of what eventually became the British Lions.  He won nine caps for England as a three-quarter, spanning the years 1902-06, including playing against New Zealand during their inaugural tour of 1905-06.

When the war came he was, like so many rugby players, one of the earliest volunteers, first joining the Officer Training Corps, and then being gazetted to the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment, and finally to the Kings Royal Rifle Corps, where the 18th Battalion had been raised by his uncle Sir Herbert Raphael, MP for West Derby.  He was wounded on 7 June 1917 at the Battle of Messines, which was a prelude to the much large 3rd Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele).  He died four days later.


Photo courtesy of St Jude on the Hill

Lieutenant JOHN EDWARD RAPHAEL is buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery Poperinghe, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium [Grave XIII. A. 30.].

 He is widely remembered elsewhere, including at Merchant Taylors’ School and by the OMT Society in its War Memorial Clubhouse.  The Society lost 13 of its 1st XV from 1913-14, and two were disabled.

His mother instigated the erection of a memorial plaque (right) at St Jude on the Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb.  Other memorials at Lord’s (MCC), Surrey CCC at The Oval, St John’s College, Oxford University RFC and Lincoln’s Inn also bear his name.

In the year after his death, his mother published his book “Modern Rugby Football”.

He did not marry.


For more information on the Rugby Football Union’s First World War commemorations visit http://www.englandrugby.com/about-the-rfu/ww1-commemorations

For details of the other 26 fallen England players click here.

The World Rugby Museum would like to thank Mike Hagger for researching and writing this article.

Follow the World Rugby Museum on Facebook and Twitter to receive further tributes to the international rugby players who fell in the Great War.

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All Blacks at Messines Ridge, 1917

1905 NZ Jersey+Programme

In the attack leading to the capture of the Messines ridge in West Flanders, Belgium, by the Allies between June 7th and 14th 1917, the New Zealand Expeditionary Force were to the fore.  By the time the NZ troops were withdrawn after two days on June 9th, the NZEF had suffered around 3,700 casualties of which more than 800 were fatalities.  Included in those figures were the deaths on June 7th of two of the four All Blacks who died that month – James Alexander Steenson (Jim) Baird and George Maurice Victor Sellars.

George Sellars was the older of the two and had a distinguished rugby career up until his departure for France in September 1916.  Born on April 16th 1886 to Edward and Maud Sellars, he was a shipwright by trade and a stalwart member of Ponsonby District rugby football club from 1906.  A very strong front row forward, he played 29 matches for Auckland between 1909 and 1915, toured Australia with the NZ Maoris in 1910 and played for the North Island in 1912.  He won his All Black colours in the 2-man front row against Australia in Wellington on September 6th 1913 in the 1st test of the 3-match series which was won by 30-5.  He then embarked with the All Blacks on their tour of North America where he played in 14 matches including scoring two tries in the 33-0 victory against the University of Santa Clara.  Three days later, he won his 2nd and final cap in the 51-3 rout of the USA at Berkeley on November 15th 1913.

He was not available for the All Black tour of Australia in 1914 but played for Ponsonby and Auckland in 1915.  After his arrival in France as a private in the 1st Battalion of the Auckland Infantry Regiment in March 1917, he served until the battle of Messines in which he was killed on the first day of the battle while carrying a wounded soldier to safety.  Although he was buried, his body was never found and he is commemorated on the Messines Ridge (New Zealand) Memorial in the British Cemetery.

Jim Baird was only 23 when he set off for France in October 1916 as a private in the 1st Battalion of the Otago Infantry Regiment.  Born in Dunedin on December 17th 1893 to James and Lucinda Baird, he was a machinist by trade and a member of the local Zingari Richmond club.

His senior rugby career, although distinguished, was remarkably short as he only played three first-class matches, all in 1913.  Two of these matches were for Otago and the third was his sole appearance for the All Blacks when he played against Australia on his home ground at Carisbrook, Dunedin in their 2nd test victory by 25-13.  He was a late replacement for Eric Cockroft and is believed to have been chosen despite his inexperience because he was locally based.  Although commonly held to have played centre in this match, both the local papers (Otago Daily Times and Otago Witness) credit him as playing on the right wing.  He was then picked to play in the 3rd test but had to withdraw due to an injured hand.  Illness prevented him playing during the 1914 season and put an end to his rugby career at the highest level.

He served in France from February 1st 1917 up to the opening day of the assault on the Messines ridge on June 7th in which he was mortally wounded.  He died later that day as a result of his wounds in Bailleul, France in the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station.  He is buried in the Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension in France.


  • Encyclopedia of New Zealand Rugby – Chester, McMillan & Palenski (Hodder Moa Beckett 1998 – 3rd ed)
  • Fifty Years’ Record of Rugby in Auckland – AJ Billington (Seabrook & Farrell 1933)
  • Haka – The Maori Rugby Story – Winston McCarthy & Bob Howitt (Rugby Press Ltd 1983)
  • Last Post – Rugby’s Wartime Roll Call – Ron Palenski (NZ Sports Hall of Fame 2011)
  • Ponsonby Rugby Club – Passion and Pride – Paul Neazor (Celebrity Books 1999)
  • The Pride of Southern Rebels – Sean O’Hagan (Pilgrims South Press Ltd 1981)
  • They came to conquer – Howell, Xie, Neazor & Wilkes (Focus Publishing Ltd 2003)
  • http://www.aucklandmuseum.com/war-memorial

About the Author- A professional musician and arts administrator, Richard Steele has had a life-long love of sport.  He has been on the committee of the World Rugby Museum at Twickenham since 2005.

Follow the World Rugby Museum on Facebook and Twitter


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How the 1950 British and Irish Lions prepared for their trip to New Zealand

2005-141 Ground view of figurines on board

A Lions tour involves vast amounts of preparation and a numerous tactical discussions.  Ahead of this year’s tour in New Zealand, let’s take a look at how things were done nearly seventy years ago.

This tactics board (pictured above) was handmade by HMS Fisgard Artificer Apprentices in 1950 and was used on the 1950 British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand and Australia.  The remarkably detailed set includes fifteen miniature Lions and fifteen miniature All Blacks, as well as posts, corner flags and even a referee.  The board would have been used to develop tactics on the long voyage by sea to Australia and New Zealand. Although as you can see from the photos below, the touring party found other ways to occupy themselves as well!

It is not quite clear why the apprentices made the board, although there are several ways in which its production may have been instigated.  Lewis Jones, one of the 1950 Lions was based at HMS Fisgard and Malcolm Thomas (another Lion) was based nearby at HMS Raleigh.  Captain Morrell was in charge at Fisgard and was a keen rugby man who had played for the Navy rugby team.

The HMS Fisgard Artificer Apprentices presented the board to the RFU after the tour.  The donation was probably instigated the Surgeon Captain ‘Ginger’ Osborne, manager of the 1950 Tour, whose collected papers of the tour are part of the World Rugby Museum’s collection.

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