#ThursdayTales: England & Ireland at Kingsholm 1991
14 May 2020
To mark the centenary of rugby at Kingsholm, both England and Ireland came to Kingsholm in September 1991, to play Gloucester in matches which also served as preparation for the forthcoming Rugby World Cup.
On his home ground, Mike Teague was given the honour of leading out England. Roared on by a passionate crowd, Gloucester played with fierce commitment and pride. For much of the match they were the equal of England and edged it in the scrums. In the loose Paul Ashmead, Sam Masters and Ian Smith gave as good as they got against a world-class back row of Mike Teague, Dean Richards and Peter Winterbottom. When Tim Smith’s penalty attempt hit a post, the ball bounced over the try line, and Derrick Morgan was the quickest to react and touched down to put Gloucester ahead.
For an hour, there was nothing in it, but England found a higher gear and ran in four tries in the last quarter. Jon Webb’s second in the 78th minute was the best of the match when he rounded off a move started deep in England territory; David Pears and Chris Oti scored the others, as England eased home 34-3. Will Carling, England captain, conceded “Gloucester posed us problems – it was always going to be the hardest of our three warm-up games.”
T.Smith; D.Morgan, D.Caskie, S.Morris, N.Marment; M.Hamlin, R.Williams; R.Phillips, J.Hawker, P.Jones, N.Scrivens, D.Sims, P.Ashmead, I.Smith (Capt.), S.Masters.
A week later, Ireland rolled into town. They played a virtually full-strength Ireland side, but labelled it the Irish President’s XV. They were led by Phil Matthews, born in Hucclecote, and captain of Ireland for the RWC tournament. Unfortunately Derrick Morgan, had to stand down with a leg broken in the England game.
Ireland started strongly, and scored first when Phil Matthews and Steve Smith set Jim Staples up for a try. But the Gloucester pack then took control, with their front row dominating in the scrums and hooker John Hawker taking three strikes against the head. Dave Sims outplayed British Lion, Donal Lenihan, in the line-outs, and Ian Smith was usually first to the loose ball. When Ireland did have the ball, ferocious Gloucester tackling kept knocking them back. Marcus Hannaford and Ian Smith soon put Jerry Perrins over for an equalising try from a five metre scrum. Full-back Tim Smith added a penalty on the stroke of half-time and three minutes after the interval he kicked Gloucester into a six point lead.
By this stage the Cherry and Whites were in total control and Gloucester scored their second try when centre Simon Morris picked up and dived over in the corner. But for a couple of try-scoring chances spurned, Gloucester would have been out of sight. However, Ireland came back ferociously in the final five minutes and were rewarded with a penalty and a converted try, but it was too little too late, and Gloucester were home 14-13.
With thanks to Gloucester Rugby Heritage Team.