|Born||Chorley, September 3 1952
|Internationals||34 caps between 1975 and 1982
|Inducted||March 16, 2002
There have been three misses in Bill Beaumont’s life, and he ran up against all of them at Twickenham. The first miss was at the start of the 1980 Grand Slam season, against Ireland (who began the match as favourites for the championship). The second involved a refereeing oversight when the wrong ball was used to score a try against England. The third miss was Erika Roe, who made an unscheduled appearance at half-time in the 1982 Test against Australia.
Of that first miss, Beaumont said, “It came about because I did not know where the try line was. I remember it was towards the end of the match. I was tackled by Colin Patterson – at 5ft 5in the smallest guy in the pitch – just a yard short. Had I known I was that close to the line I would have driven through the tackle and scored. Instead I turned to present the ball to the supporting players. That was the closest I ever got to scoring in an international.”
That Beaumont almost missed seeing the topless Erika can be put down to his dedication as captain. He was giving his earnest half-time pep talk when he suddenly became aware that the rest of the team’s minds and eyes were elsewhere, following the progress of the topless Miss Roe. “I was standing on the halfway line looking in one direction and the other 14 guys were looking straight through me or over my shoulder,” Beaumont recalled in his autobiography, ‘Thanks to Rugby’. “Great mates like Smithy (Steve Smith) and (Peter) Wheeler were ignoring every word I was saying. Eventually I looked around to see what the distraction was – or should I say were? I must admit it was a fantastic sight.”
In between those misses came the one against France. “It was the final game of the Five Nations,” explains Beaumont, whose career ended prematurely after he was ordered to retire on medical grounds in 1982, after 34 appearances. “France were going for the Grand Slam. Our fullback, Marcus Rose, kicked the ball high into the old West Stand; it probably landed in the Royal Box. Their scrum half Pierre Berbizier immediately got hold of another ball, they took a quick throw-in and scored their first try.
“My dear friend on the International Board, Allan Hosie, was the referee at the time and I made a couple of comments at the time to him about him missing the fact that the French had used a different ball, but in truth they deserved to win that day.”
Some 20 years on from that hat-trick of misses, Beaumont was voted a hit and found himself inducted onto the Wall of Fame, a prestigious honour that marks great contributions to the game of rugby union by players from all over the world.
Article by Dai Llewellyn