England v Scotland match programme, 19 March 1938.

The first live televised broadcast of a rugby match took place eighty years ago on 19 March 1938.  The match broadcast that day was the final round of what is now known as the Six Nations Championship but which was then played between the four Home Nations.

That year, England and Scotland were competing for the Calcutta Cup, but for Scotland there was also the tantalising prospect of winning not only the championship but also the Triple Crown for the first time since 1933.   However, the odds were not in Scotland’s favour, having in their previous eleven visits to Twickenham won only twice and drawn once.

However, on that day in March 1938, not only were two determined nations facing each other across the pitch but also two Shirburnians and Cambridge Blues, Charles Dick and Peter Candler.

Bernard Gadney (England captain), Peter Candler & Prince Obolensky chatting prior to the 1936 Calcutta Cup match.

Charles Dick had made his debut for Scotland in 1934 and to this day holds the title of ‘Most capped Shirburnian’, having been capped fourteen times.  The son of a Scottish doctor, but born in Kent, Dick could equally have played for England or Scotland, but Scotland were the first to offer him a trial and the rest, as they say, is history.

Peter Candler made his debut for England in 1935 and was capped ten times.  He appeared for England in January 1936 when they beat the All Blacks for the first time.  It was during this match that Candler was instrumental in the move that resulted in what many consider to be the greatest try ever scored when he made an inside pass to Prince Alexander Obolensky (‘the Flying Prince’) who then sprinted 70 yards diagonally across the pitch to score in the left corner.

What Peter Candler and Charles Dick said to each other before the match at Twickenham we will never know, but at Sherborne they knew each other well, having played alongside each other in the 1930 1st XV.

Charles Dick was six months older than Peter Candler and a member of School House.  Peter Candler had joined Abbey House in the final year of the housemastership of former England rugby international, Godfrey Mohun Carey (1872-1927).  Carey’s legacy can be seen in the fact that over half of the 1st XV team in 1930 were Abbey House boys (J.H. Bowman, C.S. Blundell, P.L. Candler, J.F.M. Moyle, W.E.H. Grayburn, G.D. Lean, D.L. Ridout, and C.W. Lyle).

Sherborne School 1st XV, 1930.

Charles Dick can be seen standing behind Peter Candler in the 1930 1st XV team photograph.  The season had gone well and they had won all their School matches, credited in part to ‘Candler’s ability to get his three-quarters moving and Dick’s increased power and speed’.  The ‘Characters of the XV’ for that season describe Candler as ‘a very promising fly-half with good hands, quick acceleration and a good head.  Needs to develop more variety’, and Dick as ‘a greatly improved centre three-quarter with power, pace, and a useful dummy.  Defence sound.’

After leaving Sherborne, both Charles Dick and Peter Candler went on to Cambridge to study medicine:  Charles Dick to Clare College and Peter Candler, a year later, to Pembroke College. Charles Dick evidently applied himself to his studies for it was his ‘too lively an interest in corpses’ that was given as the reason in The Shirburnian of December 1932 for his not yet having played for Cambridge.  However, both Charles Dick and Peter Candler went on to win Cambridge Blues.

Saturday 19 March 1938, was a warm and sunny day at Twickenham.  The match had attracted a capacity crowd of over 70,000, with some 2,500 spectators arriving at Paddington station.  The roads outside the stadium were blocked with traffic jams two miles long, forcing many ticket-holders to abandon their cars in order to get to the stadium in time.  The King and Queen attended the match which was the first occasion on which the consort of a reigning King had seen an international, and also the first at which George VI had been present since his accession to the throne in December 1936.

The match that followed was described as one of the most breath-taking battles ever seen at Twickenham, with the heaviest scoring in an England v Scotland match since 1931.  The teams were evenly matched and the game was hard fought.  Peter Candler and Charles Dick opposed each other at centre and Charles Dick scored Scotland’s third try in the first half, but the kick was unsuccessful.

Dick touching down to score Scotland’s third try of the match on 19 March 1938.

The match ended with Scotland defeating England by 21 points to 16.  The man of the match was undoubtedly Scotland’s captain, Robert Wilson Shaw, who was carried off the pitch shoulder-high by his teammates.

This match was to be for both Peter Candler and Charles Dick their last international appearance for their home nation.  But it was also the only time (so far) that two Shirburnians have played against each other in an international at Twickenham.

Find out more about the history of rugby football at Sherborne School.

Posted 24 January 2018 by Sherborne School Archives.

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