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John Birkett

John Birkett

Place of BirthRichmond
Internationals21 caps between 1906 and 1912
InductedEngland v Italy (February 10, 2007)

John Birkett made his 21 appearances between 1906 and 1912, which for a while made him England’s record cap holder. Birkett was the son of Reginald and the nephew of Louis, a former Harlequin, Barbarian and England centre.

Birkett fought in World War I as a captain in the Royal Field Artillery, where his courage in action was underlined by no fewer than 18 mentions in dispatches and the order of Crown of Italy, Fifth Class (Knight).

The Order had been established by King Victor Emmanuel II in 1868 to commemorate the Unification of Italy and was awarded for civilian and military merit. But it is for his rugby exploits that Birkett is deservedly inducted onto the Museum of Rugby’s Wall of Fame.

He was member of the England side that won the Championship in 1910 – the year that Twickenham Stadium was opened – and they opened in style, beating Wales for the first time since 1898, scoring from the kick-off in a sensational start to the match and the season.

In all Birkett, who died in 1968 aged 83, scored ten tries and a drop goal for his country. His try-scoring ratio per matches played is as good as many of the modern-day strike players.

Article by Dai Llewellyn


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