In order to combat the perceived sluggishness of Sherborne players, an adult was sent out in 1886 to help out with coaching the team. This first coach was William Campbell Penney (1861-1945), an Old Shirburnian. He had been in Price’s House from 1870 to 1881, where he was Head of House, before taking a First Class degree in Classics at Oxford. He later worked at Queen Elizabeth’s, Guernsey from 1889 to 1924 when, having been ordained, he became vicar of North Bavant, Wiltshire.
At the tail end of the nineteenth century, Godfrey Mohun Carey (1872-1927) returned to teach at his old school after a career which had seen him win five full caps for England. A forward, his first game for England had come in Swansea in January 1895, in which he had scored the first of England’s four tries as Wales were defeated 14-6. After helping out with rugby in 1896, he joined the staff the following year, made rugby compulsory and set high standards of training.
Fly-half Harold James Kittermaster (1902-67) of Harlequins played seven times for England in 1925 and 1926, one of his three tries coming on his international début, as the national side lost 17-11 to the All Blacks at Twickenham in January 1925. In 1926 he arrived to teach at Sherborne, although he only lasted a year before returning to his alma mater, Rugby.
Cricketer and rugby player Micky Walford (1915-2002) had enjoyed his sport at Rugby and for Oxford University, scored a double century for Oxford against the MCC and was offered England rugby trials. However, he joined Sherborne in 1938 to teach History and was Housemaster of Abbey House from 1955 until 1971. Meanwhile, he enjoyed regular county cricket with Somerset, won a silver medal with the Great Britain hockey side at the 1948 London Olympics and won seventeen caps for England at hockey. He coached the 1st XV for many years and retired from teaching in 1978.
A Cornishman born in India, Richard Sharp taught at Sherborne School from 1962 to 1968 and coached the 1st XV. A fly-half himself, he was at Blundell’s as a boy and won fourteen England caps, primarily playing as captain. Sharp led England to the Five Nations title in 1963. In the final game, England had to defeat Scotland to secure the title; at half-time England trailed 8-5, before Sharp, scything through the defence in a mazy forty-yard run, sold three dummies and dived over for a famous try which secured a 10-8 win and the championship. He received an OBE in 1986.
The holder of sixteen England caps, Mike Davis taught at Sherborne School from 1974, serving as Housemaster of The Digby (1987-1992) and remaining as a rugby coach until 2002. A forward, he had played alongside Richard Sharp in the England side, representing Devon before winning his first cap in 1963. Under his tutelage, the 1st XV enjoyed a 75% win rate over a nine year period. On the strength of his achievements in schoolboy rugby, he was appointed England coach in November 1979 and won the Five Nations in the spring of 1980. Retiring from coaching the national side in March 1982, he returned to coach schoolboy and club sides in Sherborne.
The Wasps and Gloucester full-back Don Rutherford worked as Director of Rugby at Sherborne School under David Scott between 2003 and 2006. Rutherford had won fourteen caps for England, the first coming alongside Richard Sharp in a 14-6 victory over Wales at Twickenham in 1960, and he played against South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand during an illustrious career with England, the British Lions and the Barbarians. Appointed in September 1969 as the first-ever Director of Rugby for the Rugby Football Union, he served until 1999 and was awarded the OBE in 2000 for Services to Rugby.
Other England internationals have helped coach at Sherborne. Charlie Hannaford (England number eight, who won the first of his three caps in the 22-6 defeat against Wales in Cardiff in February 1971) taught Biology here from 1968 to 1970. Peter Knight (whose three caps as England’s full-back came in 1972, starting with a 37-12 defeat against the French in Paris) taught PE and History here from 1971 to 1973. David Rosser (a centre, who won five England caps in 1965-66, the first in a 14-3 defeat against the Welsh in Cardiff) taught English here from 1969 to 1972. Danny Grewcock MBE (whose 69 caps for England between 1997 and 2007 included being part of England’s victorious 2003 World Cup squad) has coached at Sherborne under the umbrella of Bath Academy. Will Green (whose four England caps as a prop between 1997 and 2003 started with a 15-15 draw at Twickenham against Australia) has been coaching rugby here since 2014.
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.
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