At Least We Turn Up

At Least We Turn Up - Steve Tomlin

At Least We Turn Up

In February 1973, the `Troubles' in Northern Ireland were at their very worst and following Bloody Sunday the previous year neither the Scotland nor Wales rugby teams would dare to travel to Ireland to play. Almost totally reliant on income from International matches, the Irish Rugby Union faced imminent bankruptcy and the Five Nations competition itself hung in the balance. What would England do?

The press and public were divided on the subject and the blazers in the corridors of power at Twickenham were at first keen to go but then rather ducked the issue by `leaving it up to the individual players'. John Pullin had recently been made captain of England and had returned triumphantly from South Africa where, against all the odds, he had led England to a heroic win against the Springboks. This quietly spoken Gloucestershire farmer had established himself as the leading hooker in world rugby at the time and, having consulted his firm friend and opposing captain Willie John McBride, who expressed how desperate the Irish were to stay in the family of rugby nations, he made it abundantly clear that he was going and no less than twelve of his colleagues from the previous match followed him. They were received rapturously by the enormous crowd in Dublin and after the match, which England lost, he stood up at the dinner and uttered the immortal words 'We are not much good but at least we turn up!' It brought the house down and over forty years later he is still revered and loved in Ireland more than any other English sportsman.

This is the story of this great England captain, who led his country to victory over the Springboks, the All Blacks on their home soil in Auckland, and the Wallabies, and also played for the British Lions in 1971 on the victorious tour of New Zealand.
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In February 1973, the `Troubles' in Northern Ireland were at their very worst and following Bloody Sunday the previous year neither the Scotland nor Wales rugby teams would dare to travel to Ireland to play. Almost totally reliant on income from International matches, the Irish Rugby Union faced imminent bankruptcy and the Five Nations competition itself hung in the balance. What would England do?

The press and public were divided on the subject and the blazers in the corridors of power at Twickenham were at first keen to go but then rather ducked the issue by `leaving it up to the individual players'. John Pullin had recently been made captain of England and had returned triumphantly from South Africa where, against all the odds, he had led England to a heroic win against the Springboks. This quietly spoken Gloucestershire farmer had established himself as the leading hooker in world rugby at the time and, having consulted his firm friend and opposing captain Willie John McBride, who expressed how desperate the Irish were to stay in the family of rugby nations, he made it abundantly clear that he was going and no less than twelve of his colleagues from the previous match followed him. They were received rapturously by the enormous crowd in Dublin and after the match, which England lost, he stood up at the dinner and uttered the immortal words 'We are not much good but at least we turn up!' It brought the house down and over forty years later he is still revered and loved in Ireland more than any other English sportsman.

This is the story of this great England captain, who led his country to victory over the Springboks, the All Blacks on their home soil in Auckland, and the Wallabies, and also played for the British Lions in 1971 on the victorious tour of New Zealand.
Citeste mai mult

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