Oakham School and the Six Nations

Rugby has always been an important part of school life here at Oakham. As the Guinness Six Nations Championship started last weekend, we are looking this month at Old Oakhamians who took part in this competition.

But first we have to remember when “football rugby”, as it was known at the time, was first played at Oakham School. The first rugby season was in 1892-1893. The Rugby XV was captained by T.A. Watson (Oakham School magazine Vol. 9, no 2, Summer term 1893).

The first photograph to ever be published in a school magazine was of the Rugby 1st XV of 1893-1894, captained by G.C. Gee.

1893-94 First XV.

Sixty seasons later, the Rugby 1st XV, captained by B.A.F. Smith, became the first undefeated Oakham rugby team. In 1953-1954, they won 12 matches and drew 1 of the 13 played that season.

1953 First XV.

Oakham School has produced some fine rugby players over the years. The first OO recorded at international level was George Haydn Keeton (3rd standing on the 1893 photograph above), a hooker, who played for England in three fixtures of the 1904 Five Nations Championship (Oakham School Magazine, Vol.20, no1, Easter term 1904).

Sixty years later, Charles Ronald “Ron” Jacobs (OO 46) played his first match of the Five Nations against Wales in 1956 and captained the England side through the 1964 Five Nations.

Lewis Moody (96), an ex-Wharflander, started his rugby career in the Jerwoods 1st XV at Oakham School (Oakhamian Magazine, vol 131, winter 1990). He then played in the Colts XV and U15 XV in 1992-1993. Moody came back to Oakham in 2003 to give sports prizes to Jerwoods. Winner of the 2003 World Cup, Lewis Moody played in the 2007 RBS Six Nations, appearing against Wales at Twickenham. Lewis Moody was the OO club and magazine President in 2011-2012.

The Oakhamian Winter 2003 front cover.

Here in the archives, we are looking after a rugby jersey presented by Lewis Moody when he played in the U18 Six Nations, 1996.

Tom Croft (04) and Matt Cornwell (03) appeared on the front cover of the Oakhamian, vol 175, Spring term 2006 as Grand Slam Champions, wearing the England U21 jersey. You can read their interview in the same issue of the magazine.

The Oakhamian Spring 2006 front cover.

Tom Croft made his Six Nations debut as replacement in the 24-13 win over France at the Stade de France. He won his 37th and 38th international caps during the 2013 Six Nations Championship against Italy and Wales, having recovered from a serious injury.

At Oakham, Tom was in Haywoods and captained the Rugby 1st XV in 2003-2004.

2003 First XV

Alex Goode (06) played fly half at Oakham School. In 2005 the Rugby 1st XV won 11 of their 12 matches.

Alex Goode was selected in the England squad to prepare the 2012 Six Nations Championship alongside Tom Croft. And in 2013 he played in all the matches of the Tournament.

2005 First XV.

Goode's scores throughout the 2005 - 2006 season.

Before being capped for Scotland for the first time against Italy in the 2014 Six Nations, Hamish Watson (10) was the top scorer of the U16A in 2007, with nine tries.

2007 Under 16A Team.

Finally, one cannot talk about the Six Nations without mentioning Twickenham, home of English rugby. In this year’s tournament England will play at Twickenham against France (10.02.2019), Italy (09.03.2019) and Scotland (16.03.2019). Seventeen years ago Oakham School was victorious in the arena: the 1st XV defeated Campion School 28-23 and won the Daily Mail U18 Cup on the 24 March 2002. The team was coached by Charles Welch (85), Roger Nicholson (89), and current director of coaching, Ian Smith. They played in front of 20,000 spectators, amongst whom the Headmaster Tony Little, former Headmaster John Buchanan and the chairman of the Trustees, Tom White.

If you have other rugby memories of Oakham School to share, Mrs McCrory and I will be more than happy to hear them!

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