Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
4 January 2016
On this holiday, after leaving New Zealand, my dear wife kind of 'banned' any rugby activities taking place. I went along with her demands. I had to go I guess. This was to be a trip, she said, for us to do other stuff, like visiting friends and sightseeing. Perhaps even some shopping! But one day on the English part of the visit we found ourselves passing through the quiet Warwickshire town of Rugby. You know it, the little place where Willam Webb Ellis reputedly started the game by picking up the Rugby ball and running with it. According to the rules of our holiday I could not demand to visit any of the famous Rugby tourist sights there. Basically after a shot taken on the outer walls of Rugby School (well you can't miss it, it's right in the centre of town, and the picture I took there is also on this 'favourites' section.) we went looking for a cup of tea.
We found one all right and very enjoyable it was. But in the lane where the tea shop was situated I could not resist the pic opportunity of getting a unique memory of the visit captured. There right in front of the shop was an expression of 'Rugby' I had not seen or thought of before!
So here it is - your website author in front of a rubbishy shot about the game - which is part of one man's record of a lifetime of being interested in the simple game which started in a small village where 30 men learned to eventually follow a bouncing ball.
On this day New Zealand did beat USA 34-3 in Marcoussis, France but other results saw the Black Fern's great run at the previous four Rugby World Cups come to an end.
Rosslyn Park and England
4 internationals for England 1936
One of rugby history’s most colourful characters, Prince Alexander Obolensky was the son of Prince Alexis of Russia. The young prince was born in Leningrad in 1916 but was taken to England the following year, presumably to avoid the Russian revolution.
He was educated at Trent College and Brasenose College, Oxford. ‘Obo’, as he was known, was an elegant and speedy wing and his rugby prowess was quickly recognised. Late in 1935 he played for Oxford in the annual Universities match, the first of three appearances in that famous game.
As a 19-year-old, early in 1936, he played for England against New Zealand at Twickenham. England caused an upset by thrashing the All Blacks by 13–0. Obolensky scored two tries, one of which has become a classic. His diagonal run through the New Zealand defence, as he scored for the second time, can still be admired on newsreel film footage and on YouTube. That game thereafter became known by rugby writers as ‘Obolensky’s match’.
After he left Oxford University his form fluctuated and fell away. He won only four caps, all in the 1935–36 season, but his memory is ensured both because of his colourful family background and his extraordinary, if briefly flowering, rugby talent.
A world record in first-class rugby is still entered in some books under Obolensky’s name. ‘Obo’ toured South America with a 'Rugby Football Union' team in 1936 (presumably an English selection), and in a game against Brazil he crossed for 17 tries, still a record for one game, though perhaps the first-class quality of the local XV might be called into question.
When World War II broke out, Obolensky joined the Royal Air Force. He died when the Hawker Hurricane he was piloting crashed on landing in East Anglia. He was the first of 111 rugby internationals from all countries to lose their lives in the conflict.
What did the famous Welsh and British Lions hooker Bobby Windsor achieve on his 42nd birthday?