Rugby

England's oldest rugby international Walker dies

2018-06-07 10:54

London - Harry Walker, England's oldest ex-international rugby union player, has died aged 103 his former club Coventry announced.

Walker, a prop, made nine Test appearances for England - making his debut at the advanced age of 32 in 1947 and had to buy his own pair of white shorts to play for his country as Coventry wore an all blue strip.

"When we started singing 'God Save The King', it got to me a bit," he told the BBC in 2015 on making his debut when George VI was King. 

However, the meanness of the Rugby Football Union eventually got to Walker - he and fellow team-mate Mickey Steele-Bodger were reprimanded for taking a taxi instead of a bus when they were at risk of missing eve of match training - and he declined the opportunity to win another cap.

"We had to buy our own shorts," he told The Daily Telegraph in 2015.

"We all had jobs, so it cost money to play.

"All the while they (the RFU) filled the stadium."

Coventry organised a party for his birthday earlier this year leading him to remark 'Coventry has always been me'.

"It is with great sadness that we can confirm club patron and @EnglandRugby's oldest international Harry Walker has passed away aged 103," the club tweeted.

Bill Beaumont, chairman of World Rugby, also paid a handsome tribute to Walker.     

"Saddened to hear of Harry Walker's passing. At 103 years young, he was England's oldest international," tweeted the former England lock and captain.

"Stalwart of his beloved Coventry and a great character. Always enjoyed discussing all matters rugby with him when Fylde played Coventry. He will be greatly missed."

Coventry club president Peter Rossborough said Walker - who was a loyal spectator and attended matches right up till April - didn't care much for the backs.

"He was very single-minded that the only thing that mattered on a rugby field was how the forwards played and 'b****r' the backs.

"Although he used stronger words," he told The Daily Telegraph.

Walker's loyalty to Coventry was such that despite earning a pittance as a tool fitter he turned down an offer to switch codes to rugby league side Huddersfield, who offered him a £100 signing on fee.

Walker - who was once dropped by Coventry for scoring too many tries as it was not seen befitting for a prop to do such things - played in all the Five Nations matches in both the 1947 and 1948 tournaments.

However, his favourite international was when he played in the Barbarians side that beat a previously unbeaten Australia side in 1948.

Read more on:    rfu  |  harry walker  |  rugby
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