Place of Birth: Bedford, June 20, 1939
Internationals: 34 caps between 1969 and 1976
Inducted: England v France (August 11, 2007)
The following article has been adapted from the original by Dai Llewellyn, which focused on two players. It has been changed to highlight only the selected inductee’s information
For years Rogers, a charismatic player whose career spanned almost a decade between 1961 and 1969, was England’s most capped flanker with 34 appearances.
Rogers’ early memories of Twickenham are mixed. The Stadium was the setting for the final England trial. Rogers had been selected for The Rest versus England, and he was up against one of the shrewdest and most talented running fly halves the Red Rose has spawned – Richard Sharp.
“In those days the big confrontation was the one between the open-side wing forward and the opposing fly half,” explained Rogers. “But for whatever reason, I actually got the better of Sharpey that day. In fact, he and The Rest’s fly half Bev Risman swapped sides and I did not do too badly against him, and there could not have been a better test for me, to take on two highly talented but very different outside halves.”
It was a performance that certainly pleased the selectors and kick-started one of the more distinguished England playing careers.
Rogers made a try-scoring debut against Ireland in Dublin in 1961, although England lost that match, and followed that up with his first experience of Twickenham in an England shirt in a 5-5 draw with France in the February of that year. Victory at HQ arrived on his second appearance on the ground in the Calcutta Cup match when England beat Scotland 6-0.
But the Bedford flanker’s next appearance there, against Wales in 1962, was a doubly painful experience. “That 1962 match against Wales was dire and finished up a 0-0 draw. The weather was just awful, so the pitch was a mud bath. Then you had Dickie Jeeps and Clive Rowlands, the two scrum halves, who spent a lot of the match kicking the ball into touch.
“But on the rare occasions that Rowlands did pass the ball I would clobber Alan Rees, the Wales fly half, while Haydn Morgan, their flanker, took care of our fly half Richard Sharpe when Jeeps passed the ball out to him.
“Then in the very last minute I got clear and chipped over Kel Coslett, the full back who went to rugby league. He late shoulder-charged me – today it would have been a certain penalty try – to such an extent that it dislocated my acromio-clavicular joint or collarbone. At which point the whistle went.
“As the National Anthem was played I was lying prostrate on the ground, recovering from this clattering. And it finished up a draw when it should have been an England victory.
“As a result of that injury I missed my only game in about four years, against Scotland. I had recovered from the dislocation and I played for Bedford against Harlequins when John Willcox, the Oxford University and England full back, lifted me in a tackle. I went down on my elbow and the AC joint went out again. So that was a really memorable game at Twickenham.”
It wasn’t all bad, though. After an unhappy spell of four matches captaining his country in 1966, Rogers was reappointed to lead England three years later when a France side visited Twickenham. It was something of a historic outcome.
His appointment as captain was a last-minute thing. Dick Greenwood had injured himself playing squash the night before, so Rogers stepped in. It was his 32nd appearance for England and meant that he broke Wavell Wakefield’s record of 31 caps, which had stood for 42 years.
England had scored only three tries in their previous eight games against France, but on this occasion they doubled that tally under Rogers’ leadership, with tries by wingers Rodney Webb and Keith Fielding and another from No.8 Dave Rollitt. The victory contributed to France’s slide from Grand Slammers to Wooden Spoonists in the space of a season.
Rogers retained the captaincy for two more matches, the victory over Scotland and the defeat against Wales in Cardiff. By then he had won a record 34 caps.
Rogers’ Twickenham experience overall was good. “There was always a wonderful atmosphere at Twickenham. By today’s standards it was so intimate in a way. The spectators were closer to the action, the stands were higher.
“And it never ceased to be a huge thrill to run out on to the pitch there. There were some really good games there over that period. We had a wonderful match against Ireland in 1964, when I scored a try.” Sadly England lost the game, but they contributed to a great spectacle.
Rogers went on to become President of the Rugby Football Union in 2001.
Article by Dai Llewellyn