Twenty Old Shirburnians have represented their country on the rugby field, twelve played for England, four for Wales, three for Scotland and one for Ireland. Seven of these international rugby players were in Abbey House. The first international cap was Henry Twynam (1852-1899), who attended Sherborne School from 1865 to 1870, and went on to win eight caps for England between 1879 and 1884. The most recent, Nick Greenstock, a boy in The Green from 1987 to 1992, played four times for England in 1997.

Shirburnians who have represented their country in sport.

Other Honours

Fourteen Sherborne School students have represented The Barbarians and five of these were born during the nineteenth century. The most recent was David Barry, who was in Abbeylands from 1962 to 1967. In addition to full internationals, nine Shirburnians have represented England at Under-18 level, the first being Tom Leveritt, who was in Lyon House from 1960 to 1965 and won two caps during his Upper Sixth year. Aadel Kardooni and Grant Bulstrode both represented England at Under-16 and Under-18 level during the 1980s.

John Tallent (1911-2004) attended Sherborne School (The Green) from 1924 to 1929 and went on to play for England in the early 1930s. A Blackheath centre and club captain, he scored three tries in five games for his country before becoming President of the Rugby Football Union in 1959-60. He also served as Chairman of the Four Home Unions Tours Committee, sending teams across to New Zealand and South Africa in 1971 and 1974 and winning both series.

The First Shirburnian International

Henry Thomas Twynam was born on 8 December 1852, the son of Thomas Twynam and Eliza Barney of Hampshire. His time at Sherborne, from January 1865 to July 1870, was noteworthy in that he was a member of the first-ever Sherborne XV. ‘Twynam worked hard to avert defeat’, purred The Shirburnian in March 1868. The Shirburnian of March 1869 reports that he was ‘a most useful man in any game, most especially against small numbers, playing in a plucky and scientific manner’. That year he was commended for his play during the match against the Old Boys in December 1869, when he kicked a goal.  He went on to play for Richmond and was captain of the Cambridge University XV.

A solicitor by trade, Twynam won eight England caps between 1879 and 1884, scoring four tries for his country; England won seven of these eight games.  His final try came in January 1884 during the large victory over Wales at Leeds, which helped England secure that year’s Home Nations Championship. As a player, he was known for his attacking, rather than defensive play and he was described as a brilliant half-back, ‘a fine runner with a very difficult dodge, but was a trifle uncertain, and had no powers of dropping.’ On his death, the causes of which are a little unclear, the Old Shirburnian Society reported rather enigmatically that ‘it is sad to think also that it was at football he got the injury of which, after a painful illness, he died’. Henry Twynam died on 19 May 1899, aged just 46 and is commemorated on a memorial brass in Sherborne School Chapel.

The Most-capped Old Shirburnian

Born in Sevenoaks on 26 July 1913, Robert Charles Stewart Dick was the elder son of Dr Robert Dick and Hilda Groom. He arrived at Sherborne School (School House) on a scholarship in January 1927 and left the school in 1931, serving as a School Prefect and Head of House, he also represented the English Public Schools whilst at Sherborne. His younger brother Anthony Dick was in School House from 1933 to 1938 and was also Head of House, but was killed in action in Italy in 1944 and is commemorated on the School’s War Memorial Staircase leading to the Chapel.

A centre, Robert Dick was praised in The Shirburnian of 1930 as ‘a greatly improved three-quarter with power, pace and a useful dummy’. Within a decade, he was being described by The Times as ‘one of the finest centres in his day’. A medical doctor, he won fourteen caps for Scotland between 1935 and 1938 and his six international tries included one against the touring All Blacks in November 1935, a match which New Zealand won 18-8 at Murrayfield. He died on 10th May 2004, aged ninety.

Stephen Byrne.

Further reading:
Shirburnians who have represented their country in sport
The early days of rugby at Sherborne School
Playing Fields & Pavilions
A.B. Gourlay, A History of Sherborne School (Sherborne, 1971)
D.F. Gibbs, A History of Football at Sherborne School (Sherborne, 1983)
Robert Hands, Rugby Football at Sherborne School  (Sherborne, 1991)

For further information about the Sherborne School Archives please contact the School Archivist.

Return to the School Archives homepage.