Myburgh Hands was born in
on July 26th 1888 the eldest son of Sir Harry Hands KBE and his wife
the Lady Aletta Hands OBE. Educated at
, Rondebosch in his native South Africa Hands went on to win a coveted Rhodes
scholarship and made the long journey to
to continue is studies at
and read law in 1907. This path was soon followed by two of his brothers who
both also became rugby blues at the university prior to the outbreak of the
First World War.
Hands soon showed his skills on the rugby pitch, although he was unable to
break into the varsity side during his first year. Whilst a student he also
showed his skills at Blackheath as well as playing for Middlesex. His chance to
on the pitch came during his second year in a match held at the Queens Club on
December 12th 1908. The one goal each draw if anything flattered
Oxford as Cambridge had the better of the play as well as the more accomplished
ís forwards were large, and Hands was regarded as one of their better players
in the fixture, they were beaten technically both in the scrum as well as the
loose. It took an all round display of strong tackling in the second half to
With his first
varsity match barely over Hands followed this just a fortnight later with his
first match for the Barbarians, playing in a six points to three defeat to
on Boxing day. He toured with the Barbarians again the following Easter to
where he played a further two matches in the famous black and white hoops.
Having beaten Penarth eight points to three on April 9th the
Barbarians were faces with a resounding twenty two points to nil defeat three
days later, once again against
During his final
year at Oxford Hands was as busy on the rugby pitch as he doubtless was in his
studies. Again picked for his university in the annual fixture at Queens on
December 11th, and in front of a crowd in excess of fifteen thousand,
presented a far different picture to the previous year as Ronald Poulton ran in
five tries during a thirty five points to three victory. This result was all the
more remarkable as at one point Oxford were down to just thirteen men due to
forwards, Hands included, played a strong, precise game, this time
overshadowing an underperforming and slow
pack. It was generally regarded as one of the finest performances ever seen in
a varsity match.
Hands again spent Christmas travelling with the Barbarians, losing to
on December 28th, before travelling to
the following day and achieving a creditable nine points all draw. The previous
season Hands had played for the South v
in a trial match, but had failed to catch the selectorsí eye. This time he
again played in the trials, this time for
v the South as well as the Rest v
, and this time achieved a more favorable outcome. He was selected for a debut
cap on March 3rd 1910, travelling to
to take on the French at the Parc de Princes. During an excellent match, that
England were hard pressed to eventually win by eleven points to three, the
French played far better than had previously been seen, tackling well and
showing some of their now well known flair.
ís technical superiority finally proved too much for the battling French;
although this was a fixture that
had been expected to win with ease.
contribution during the French match must have been appreciated as he kept his
place for the final match of the international season, again away from home and
this time in Inverleith against Scotland on March 19th. In an
won the match by fourteen points to five and although this score did not
accurately represent the closeness of the game they were worthy winners. After a
slow first half where
by far had the better of the play, if not the score due to some poor handling
by their backs,
ís pack began to assert themselves in the second period, proving too strong
for the Scots as
slowly pulled away. Hands himself was noted as providing excellent support his
team during the match in what for him was a good game. With the victory in
Scotland England claimed the international championship, their first since 1892.
But for a drawn game earlier in the season against
it could have been their first ever elusive grand slam.
This proved to be
the final match in Reginald Handsí all too short international career.
he completed his law degree taking second class honors. The following Easter he
again toured with the Barbarians to
, again losing to
by fifteen points to eight on April 15th 1911, as well as to
two days later this time by eighteen points to eight. His eighth and final
appearance for the club came the following day with an eight point to three
. Shortly after he was called to the middle temple of the bar and with his law
studies over he returned home to
. Here he turned is sporting prowess more towards cricket, playing a few matches
for Western province as well as one test appearance for South Africa against the
visiting MCC that the visitors won resoundingly by ten wickets in February 1914.
enlisted shortly after the outbreak of hostilities in the First World War.
Initially he served with the Imperial Light Horse in their campaign in German
. This was essentially a police action to round up German settlers in what is
. Transferring to the South African Heavy Artillery Hands was eventually posted
to the western front and was seconded, with his unit, to the Royal Garrison
Artillery. This provided support and the required firepower to the Infantry and
normally comprised of a four gun battery for each infantry division, which were
normally clustered into formations known as Royal Garrison Artillery Brigades.
On March 21st 1918 the Germans embarked upon a final attempt to land
a decisive blow before significant numbers of American troops could arrive at
the front. Despite initial success this spring offensive failed as the Germans
were unable to consolidate their gains due to the fragmentary, if novel, method
of their advances where they attacked in small units hitting command and
logistical targets rather than more heavily defended areas which were avoided.
Reginald Hands was at this time a Captain and second in command of his battery.
Wounded in action defending the line he succumbed to his wounds on April 20th
Complete Who's Who of England Rugby Union Internationals", R Maule,
Times Online Digital Archive