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David Duckham

David Duckham

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BornCoventry, 28th June 1946
Internationals36 caps between 1969 and 1978
InductedEngland v France (11/03/07)

Date of Birth: 28th June 1946
Place of Birth: Coventry
Position: Centre/Wing
Internationals: 36 caps between 1969 and 1978
Inducted: England v France (11/03/07)

David Duckham used run rings around and through defensive walls, but there is one barrier he cannot avoid – the World Rugby Museum's Wall of Fame at Twickenham.

The one-time golden boy of English rugby is fully deserving of the accolade as well, if only for his magnificent match against France 34 years ago.

Having played in two of England's heaviest defeats against the French in Paris in 1970 (13-35) and 1972 (12-37), Duckham, now a stately 60-year-old, said: "Playing in Paris was always a great experience, what with the volatility of the crowd, something which I found quite inspiring actually, and the various spectators' bands blaring away not to mention the live cockerels fluttering about the place. "And we were outrun in both those games by the sheer pace of the French, although we did at least score some points in both games. There was something exhilarating about playing against them, even when we did get hammered. My goodness they were a class above us.
"Their dexterity was phenomenal, and we also underestimated their defensive qualities. In those days we used to think of the French as being weak in defence, but of course that was nonsense, they were just as strong as any other nation, but they used to capitalise on opposition errors and counter attack, just like New Zealand. "They were always a different kettle of fish playing in Paris. They were a much better side at home in those days, in fact the nearest I got to a win in Paris was in 1974 when we drew 12-12.
"But at Twickenham the contrast was huge. Their attitude was certainly different when they came to us. We never saw them as a threat at Twickenham strangely."

In 1973 all the threat came from England, specifically from the left wing, one David Duckham, who scored two tries in England's 14-6 victory. He was unable to call to mind the first try in the opening half, but he had trouble at all in going over the second one.
"I remember the second try, because I had two Coventry players with me, Peter Preece and Geoff Evans and they were two players – and I am not saying this just because they were clubmates of mine – who had the pace to make a clean outside break.
"I remember Peter suddenly accelerated outside his opposite number, Claude Dourthe, with blistering pace – I had a hell of a job keeping up with him – and he rounded him completely, and inevitably that created a two to one on the fullback. Peter just flicked the ball across to me and all I had to do was stay on my feet and fall over the line."

Duckham was a balanced runner, graceful on the ball and possessed of a devastating step off either foot, but he reckons that had he known then what he knows now about fitness and upper body strength he might have worked a little on that and he says: "I think I could have been yards quicker." But Duckham was fast enough to run in ten tries in his 36 appearances for England between 1969 and 1976. And when he bowed out at the top, he took away with him some fond memories of Twickenham. "The atmosphere in the old stadium was very special and actually I am very sad that the modern stadium, I feel, is not the stadium it was. "I am always going to be accused of being an old fogey and not being up-to-date, but I think Twickenham has lost some of its atmosphere.
"The angle of the cantilevers is so shallow that the seats in the back of the upper tiers are not only very high above the ground, but also so remote from the playing surface and that the spectators up there must feel more detached from what is going on on the field than they ever did before.
"I think nowadays supporters really have to make a lot more noise to make an impact and re-create that old atmosphere. In my day if one supporter sneezed you could hear it anywhere around the ground. But not these days. Mind you in the 60s and 70s Rugby crowds were a lot less noisy."
At least today's crowds can cheer Duckham as loudly as they like as they view his name on the World Rugby Museum's Wall of Fame.

Article by Dai Llewellyn


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