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A Tribute to


Eric Evans MBE


(1921 - 1991)


Eric EvansThe Early Years

Eric was born on 1st February 1921 at Edge Lane, Droylsden, being one of two children. The family later moved to Manchester Road, Droylsden, where he attended Audenshaw Grammar School. It was here that he received his first taste for sport and played football for Manchester School Boys until he was 11 years old.

Eric, a natural in sport, also started playing rugby. In 1936, at the age of 15 years, Eric now excelling in his new sport, joined Old Aldwinians Rugby Union Football Club, Audenshaw to further pursue his skills and regularly play matches.

As the Second World War broke out, Old Aldwinians RUFC closed down. Eric, who still wanted to train, moved to Sale RFC, before joining the Army with the Border Regiment.

After the War, Eric qualified as a sports teacher at Loughborough College. He went on to teach at Openshaw Technical College, Manchester, where he met fellow teacher Marion Rhodes. They married on 5th September 1962 and had one child, a daughter - Louise.

Other Information

England v Ireland. Eric is about to kick the ballEric was honoured to receive the Member of the British Empire from Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace, on 15th June 1982. This award was for his inspirational career in Rugby Union Football and charitable work for the disabled at Glengarth - a home for disabled children.

Eric died on the 13th January 1991, aged 69 years, and his ashes were appropriately scattered on the pitch at Twickenham. He is fittingly remembered at the home of England Rugby by the ERIC room - the base of the England Rugby Internationals Club that he was instrumental in founding.

Acknowledgements

  • Louise Knotman - Daughter of Eric Evans
  • Alan Fielding - Nephew of Eric Evans and Past President of Aldwinians RUFC
  • Rugby Football UnionDerek Morgan - President of RFU and former England International
  • England Commonwealth Games Rugby 7s Squad
  • John Elliott - Administrative Manager - England Squad
  • Joe Lydon - Coach to England Squad
  • Peter Hughes - Assistant Competition Manager (Volunteer) M2002 Rugby 7s
  • Irish Times - For their kind permission to reproduce the match photographs
  • Aldwinians Rugby Union Football Club and staff

One of England's Most Successful and Inspiring Rugby Union Captains

Blue Plaque - Eric EvansOne of Eric's sternest critics was his Father, who earlier in his career had scolded him for being unfit. As a qualified sports teacher, Eric knew more than most the importance of fitness. He trained at Manchester United, Old Trafford, alongside the football professionals - `The Busby Babes`. His aims were to raise his stamina levels and to improve his game. His inspirational dedication and knowledge of physical education earned him an invitation to lead some of the fitness sessions at Old Trafford.

Eric won his first cap for England as a loose-head prop on 3rd January 1948, against the Wallabies at Twickenham. Disappointingly, he made just one more international appearance during the following 3 years, being strangely overlooked by the selectors and also unfortunately twice breaking his arm.

In 1951, Eric became England's premier hooker. He represented England for the next four seasons and played in the 1954 Triple Crown Team. In December 1955, it was customary for the RFU to hold two trials prior to the Five Nations Tournament, before culminating in a match between England and The Rest. Eric was appointed captain of the junior side and wrote to his team to ask them to refrain from the approaching Christmas festivities, in view of the imminent Final Trial. Eric's team won 20-3 and he was rightly promoted to captain the England team at the start of the 1956 Championship..

Eric went on to captain England on 13 occasions during the following three seasons. He equalled the admirable captaincy record previously held by Lord Wavell Wakefield and Nim Hall. Dickie Jeeps and John Pullin later led England thirteen times. Their record was eventually exceeded in 1981 by another Lancastrian - Bill Beaumont. Now more ;matches are played with autumn internationals, regular summer tours and Rugby World Cups. As a result both Will Carling and Martin Johnson have captained England on over fifty occasions.

Eric's vigour and enthusiasm rubbed off on his fellow players, as well as setting them high standards of personal fitness. In 1957, Eric led his team to win their first Grand Slam since 1928 when, watched by a young Queen Elizabeth at Twickenham, they beat Scotland 16-3. In 1958, another outright championship was claimed when England won 14-0 against France in Paris. Eric's last game for England was in 1958 against Scotland. During his career he played for England on 30 occasions, over a span of eleven years and in two different
positions.

After his retirement from International Rugby he continued to play at Sale RFC up until 1963. He was also Chairman of Old Aldwinians RUFC from 1957 to 1959 and was president from 1960 to 1966. The Club is now known as `Aldwinians RUFC`. It is here that the Blue Plaque honouring Eric is located, as well as a corner which contains his photographs, jerseys and other rugby memorabilia.

Team Photograph

For a comprehensive listing of further Blue Plaques featured around Tameside, visit the Blue Plaques Homepage