Rugby in the early 1940s

Over the course of the 1941/1942 and 1942/1943 seasons, Worksop College produced two of the best schoolboy rugby teams in the country. How these teams would get on against modern schoolboy rugby teams we will never know – but the below gives an indication of just how good the teams were. Here we look at the 1941/1942 XV which was probably the better of the two XVs.

1941/1942 season report
Comparisons are usually described as odious, and it is perhaps unwise at such times to make them. We can, however, safely say that we have had one of the best XV.s ever in the School this term and easily the most successful season on record, particularly when one considers the opposition encountered. Such an eminent rugger authority as R.F. Oakes of the Yorkshire Union, has stated that “Worksop is the best School XV in the country.” We do not ourselves feel justified in saying that, but we certainly have al very good and well-balanced side. Well-balanced is probably the key-note, for the XV is without official ” stars,” but has many good players who combine superbly. The foundation of success has been a hard-working and lively pack, well led by H.D. ]ennison, a fine forward in every way; outstanding have been T.A.S. Anderson, G.S. Joss and E. Hall, while D.F. Batchelor has improved steadily as hooker. Behind the scrum, J.M. Taylor and N.M. Hall have been a good pair of halves, serving their threequarter line well, while the line itself has always been fast and accurate in its passing, with much thrust from P. Carmichael, J.B. MilIar and E.R. Holliday. Behind this line, W.G. Briggs has been an enterprising and reliable full-back, while N.M. Hall’s place-kicking and other kicking have been invaluable.

Results: played 11, won 11, points for 389, points against 12

C.S. Hardern’s XV Home Won 43-0
RAF Swinderby Home Won 16-3
RAF Syerston Home Won 53-3
RAF Finningly Home Won 26-0
Old Worksopians Home Won 31-0
Mount Saint Mary’s College Home Won 63-0
Saint Peter’s School, York Away Won 28-0
Sedbergh School Home Won 30-0
Ampleforth College Away Won 6-3
Trent College Home Won 76-0
Denstone College Away Won 17-3

Characters of the XV

  • H. D. Jennison (captain), forward – a magnificent all-round player, particularly  good in the line-outs-an inspiration to the XV and one of the best captains, on and off the field, the School have ever had
  • T. A. S. Anderson (vice-captain), forward – unlucky in his injury early in the  term, he has. been an untiring worker since he returned and is a fine forward,  particularly outstanding in the line out
  • N. M. Hall, stand-off half – has developed more speed and has learnt how to find an opening and sell a dummy. A fine natural player, and a beautiful kicker  with either foot – he has been a tower of strength to the side, considering his age, and in another year should be excellent
  • P. Carmichael, centre – a player of great possibilities-fine natural thrust and pace, good hands and defence, he has found many gaps in the opposition defence and always tries hard
  • J. B. Millar, centre – a sound and steady player, with a rock-like defence, who
    held the line together and was deceptively better than he appeared
  • G. S. Joss, forward – a fine player; who, with his great pace, was always in  everything. A minor fault is a tendency to high tackling-when he cures this, he will be really class
  • E. Hall, forward – a hard-working scrummager, who has vastly improved in the  loose and has always worked hard. I wish he would learn to pass
  • P. J. Walker, forward – another fine scrummaging forward-always on the ball­ but I wish he would pass and also learn all the rules
  • D. F. Batchelor, forward – has hooked well and has improved greatly; he has now discovered that there is more in forward play than hooking and is starting to do it
  • E. R. Holliday, wing-threequarter – one of the most dangerous attackers on the
    side great pace, clever and a fine defence, he shouid be absolutely first  class next year.
  • T. B. Greenwood, forward – a vastly improved player, who has worked hard and  has improved his own individual play; a good scrummager
  • W. G. Briggs, full back – a very sound and intelligent player, who opens up the  game well : tackling most reliable, particularly in an emergency-but he  must try not to score tries, even when tempted greatly
  • J. M. Taylor, scrum-half – has toiled hard and has improved every match, so  that he is now a good player; his all-round play has been as sound as ever and his passing is now much quicker
  • J. W. Phillips, forward – always on the ball and excelling in the line-outs, a lively and useful forward in the loose
  • C. H. Ewart, wing-threequarter – filled E. P. Clark’s place well and could  always be relied upon; a little too orthodox and easy to tackle, but will alter this by next year, when he should be a fine player
  • E. P. Clark, wing-threequarter – in good form until York match, when he left us  for the Navy; much faster and steadier on his feet, he was a dangerous attacking wing

What became of the members of the team?

  • Jennison, Anderson and Millar were killed in Normandy at the Battle of the Falaise Pocket in 1944 where they were all tank captains
  • N.M. Hall went on to captain England and was the first player to score a 3 point penalty in 1948
  • Carmichael joined the navy and found fame during the Cold War for downing a jet-engined Russian Mig fighter from a piston-engined Sea Hawker – the only recorded incident of its kind

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