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#ThursdayTales: Centenary Match 1973

#ThursdayTales: Centenary Match 1973

The first Gloucester match was played on 4th October 1873. One hundred years later, on 3rd October 1973, Gloucester took on an International XV raised by their former captain and England international full back, Don Rutherford, who organised arguably the most spectacular array of stars ever to appear at Kingsholm.

The teams on one of the most memorable nights in Gloucester Rugby history were:

Gloucester: Peter Butler; Bob Clewes, Tom Palmer, Richard Jardine, Ron Etheridge; Bob Redwood, John Spalding; Keith Richardson, Mike Nicholls, Mike Burton, Phil Winnell, John Fidler, John Watkins, John Haines, Dave Owen

International XV: Pierre Villepreux (France); Jeremy Janion (England), John Dawes (Wales, captain), Jo Maso (France), David Duckham (England); Jean-Louis Berot (France), Steve Smith (England); Ian McLauchlan (Scotland), John Young (Wales), Sandy Carmichael (Scotland), Benoit Dauga (France), Chris Ralston (England), Nairn MacEwan (Scotland),  Marc Billiere (France), Tony Neary (England)


Gloucester made their intentions clear from the start when an up and under from Bob Redwood led to Mike Burton crashing over, only to be pulled back for a minor infringement, and then Bob Clewes suffered a similar fate when he crossed the line. Gloucester continued to attack from deep, a style of play quite foreign to them in this era, but it was the International XV who scored first when Jeremy Janion ran in a try from 75 yards, which Pierre Villepreux converted.

Gloucester responded so strongly that they forced errors. John Haines picked up a loose ball and dashed through a gap to score, and then the pack drove through with the ball at their feet, Keith Richardson fielded his own hack ahead, and went over for a try, which Peter Butler converted.

When Villepreux put in a mighty kick but failed to find touch, Butler started and finished an attack with a dash along the touchline to score in the corner. The International XV responded with another try by Janion, despite the crowd’s helpful advice to the referee that there had been a forward pass.

The second half featured David Duckham, all sweeping runs and flowing blond locks, but stupendous tackling denied him. Numerous Gloucester players handled before Ron Etheridge put Bob Redwood over in the corner. But the International XV started to exert muscle in the scrums, and put Steve Smith in at the corner. Only four points behind, they continued to press, but with three minutes to go, John Watkins charged down a kick, Mike Burton and Dave Owen both went for the line but were repelled, so John Spalding spun the ball wide, where Ron Etheridge was brought down agonisingly close, but Richard Jardine was on hand to pick up and score. Butler converted and Gloucester had a famous win, 24-14.

[caption id="attachment_31822" align="alignleft" width="172"] Mike Nicholls[/caption]

Mike Nicholls, a man of action rather than words, was moved to comment “I’m really chuffed”.

With thanks to Gloucester Rugby Heritage for providing the words and images.
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