R.I.P. David Duckham (1946-2023)

I seem to be devoting a lot of this blog to R.I.P. posts these days but sadly I have to do it again because former England rugby union international David Duckham has passed away at the age of 76. With great poise and balance as well as a blistering turn of pace, Duckham was an oustanding player on the wing and his international career would have been even more memorable had he had better players around; the England team of the early 70s was rather weak, actually finishing bottom of the Five Nations in four of the seven years he played.

David Duckham was one of only three England players who made it into the Barbarians side that played New Zealand in Cardiff on 27th January 1973, a match many regard as the greatest game of rugby ever played. Can that really have been 50 years ago?

The Barbarians’ side on that day was packed with Welsh legends and the Welsh supporters after the game changed Duckham’s name from “David” to “Dai” because he was “good enough to be Welsh”. I regarded that great Welsh rugby team of the 70s in exactly the same light as the great Brazilian football team of the same period.

I remember commentator Cliff Morgan during that game describing Duckham as “a man who can really motor” and indeed he could. Here’s a short clip* of him in action:


I’m not sure why New Zealand scrum-half Sid Going decided to kick after controlling the scrum so well with all the Barbarians pack committed and knowing that the ball would probably end up in the hands of JPR Williams, a man who could very quickly turn defence into attack. On this occasion, however, Duckham was already coming in off his wing, so JPR just slipped him the ball and off he went in thrilling fashion. That amazing dummy even fooled the cameraman who nearly let Duckham go out of shot as he scythed through the All Blacks until stopped by Sid Going. Brilliant stuff.

R.I.P. David Duckham (1946-2023)

*Not sure why it won’t embed properly but you’ll just have to click on the link!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: