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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 November 2003, 15:47 GMT
My grandad was the first captain to beat the All Blacks
For a new series of articles, we're looking for the best stories of your grandparents, whether they are still alive or no longer with us. Here, our head of design Max Gadney tells how his grandfather tackled the mighty All Blacks. Let us know what your grandad or grandma did, using the form at the bottom of the page.

What my grandad did
My grandfather, Bernard Gadney, was the captain of the first England rugby team to beat the All Blacks at Twickenham.


He was a scrum-half in the 1930s; he captained the international team eight times and led England to its first victory over New Zealand in 1936.

He was good mates with this Russian prince on the team, Prince Alexander Obolensky, who scored a blistering try by running from one end of the field to the other.

My grandfather - known as BC Gadney - began the move which led to this try. England won 13-0, a feat we'd like to repeat in the Rugby World Cup if England make it to the finals against the Kiwis.

He was a pretty big bloke for a scrum-half - 6' 2" - and I've heard that if you sat close to the sidelines, you could hear the crack of ribs as he ploughed into the opposition players. These were all good old boys who didn't let a few ribs stand in the way of play.

How I first heard this story
Bernard was a very modest man - flash wasn't a word in his vocabulary. What seemed very impressive to the rest of us, he just didn't talk about - you had to ask him loads of questions if you wanted to hear about it.

Those were the days when rugby players were amateurs, when being on the England team wasn't even considered to be a weekend job, it was something you did at the weekend.

He was a teacher at the time, at Winchester House prep school in Northamptonshire, where he also played for the Leicester Tigers. When an England game was due, he would catch the train down to London for training at Highbury.

The influence he had on me
No-one else in the family followed him into rugby; we took after my grandmother, who was very artistic.

He saw me run at sports day once and for a brief moment, hope flared - but he saw the light pretty soon. He did try to teach me to pass when I was about 12, much to Dad's amusement. We'd driven all over Suffolk on our way to visit him, looking for a rugby ball but all we could get was an American football.

I went to Winchester House myself for a year. On my first day, the games teacher said: 'Ah, Gadney, we're expecting great things of you.' I'd never played rugby before - I'd been at a comprehensive before that. But I volunteered to play prop, not knowing that I was too tall and skinny to be on the front row of a scrum. Let's just say my rugby career ended pretty quickly.

Bernard died at the age of 91 almost three years ago, shortly before he was due to unveil the Wall of Fame at the Museum of Rugby. His was the first name on that list.


Tell us about your grandfather or grandmother, using the form below. Please include contact details so we can get in touch with if we need photographs or more details.

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