The biography of
Lancelot Slocock on this site mentions the luck of Arnold Alcock, who gained
a cap for England in 1906 due to a clerical error – Slocock had actually
been intended. His is not the only curious case.
In the early days,
teams had to travel to Ireland by boat, and in winter the Irish Sea is
notoriously unfriendly. In 1880
one of the forwards was so ill following the journey that he could not play.
A lucky youngster called Ernest Woodhead, who was English but
happened to be already in Ireland studying at Trinity College, Dublin, was
drafted in to fill the gap.
In 1888 England did
not play any internationals because of a dispute with the other home
countries (which I’ll tell you all about some other time).
Nonetheless, the selectors decided to pick a team
and published it in the Times. Harry Eagles was thus “awarded”
his first and only cap. To make
it even more curious, he went on the Lions tour that summer.
The tour lasted 9 months (3 months travelling time) and they played
35 matches. Harry played in all
of them. Perhaps he was just too
tired to play for England after that.
In 1920 Wilfrid
Lowry also gained a cap without playing.
He was presented with his cap and photographed with the team before
the match, but then the selectors decided to replace him with Harold Day
“because of the ground conditions”. This might have been seen as an
inspired move, since Day scored all England’s point with a try and a
conversion. Unfortunately Wales scored rather more.
Lowry did get to
play (on the winning side) against France in the next international, but
that was all. Day gained another
3 caps in later seasons.
The hooker Sam
Tucker already had 20 caps by 1930 when Henry Rew was selected ahead of him
against Wales, so he might have thought his international career was over.
However Rew dropped out on the morning of the match, and Tucker was
flown over from Bristol – probably a first - arriving just before the
kick-off. He played so well that
he continued for the rest of the season, though Rew did come back in as his
Perhaps the most
unfortunate missed cap was by a Frenchman, Jean-Pierre Salut.
In 1969, running up the steps to get on to the pitch, he tripped and
injured himself so badly that he had to be replaced.
It’s a tough game,