Alastair Hignell

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Alastair James Hignell
Date of birth (1955-09-04) 4 September 1955 (age 63)
Place of birthEly, Cambridge
UniversityCambridge University
Notable relative(s)AF Hignell (father)
SpouseJeannie (married 1980)
ChildrenAdam, Dan
Occupation(s)Schoolmaster and Professional Cricketer
Rugby union career
Position(s) Fullback
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
Bristol ()
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1975 – 1979 England 14 48
Official website
Alastair Hignell
Personal information
Full nameAlastair James Hignell
Born (1955-09-04) 4 September 1955 (age 63)
Ely, Cambridge, England
BattingRight-handed batsman
BowlingRight-arm leg-break
RoleBatsman, often opener
RelationsAF Hignell (father),
SR Hignell (great-uncle)
Domestic team information
1975-78Cambridge University
First-class debut24 July 1974 Gloucestershire v Surrey
Last First-class30 August 1983 Gloucestershire v Nottinghamshire
List A debut11 August 1974 Gloucestershire v Northamptonshire
Last List A28 August 1983 Gloucestershire v Lancashire
Career statistics
Competition First-class List A
Matches 170 138
Runs scored 7459 2454
Batting average 29.48 23.37
100s/50s 11/41 0/9
Top score 149* 85*
Balls bowled 341 3
Wickets 3
Bowling average 76.66
5 wickets in innings
10 wickets in match
Best bowling 2/13 0/4
Catches/stumpings 150/– 56/–
Source: CricketArchive, 16 December 2008

Alastair James Hignell CBE (born 4 September 1955[1] in Cambridge) is an English former rugby union international and cricketer, and broadcaster.


Hignell was educated at Denstone College, a boarding independent school for boys (now co-educational), in the village of Denstone in Staffordshire in Central England, followed by Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge. Hignell won Blues at Cambridge in both cricket and rugby union, and when he graduated in 1977 he had already made several England appearances at full back.[2] He was the second man to captain Cambridge at both cricket and rugby union.[3]

Sporting career[edit]

Hignell made his England rugby union debut in 1975 in a brutal encounter with Australia in Brisbane - eight days later he was playing for Gloucestershire against Middlesex at Bristol and five weeks later he made 60 in the Varsity match.

After leaving university, he continued playing rugby for Bristol and England in the winter, while also working as a teacher (including at Bristol Cathedral School and Sherborne School), and cricket for Gloucestershire in the summer. As a right-handed batsman, he scored solidly rather than spectacularly, passing 1,000 runs in a season three times, including his final season in 1983, before his retirement. He won the last of his 14 England rugby caps in 1978-79.


Hignell continued to teach until he moved into journalism full-time and he became a respected reporter, as well as working extensively on BBC Radio. In 1999, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and has since been an active fundraiser.

His final commentary for BBC Radio Five Live was the 2007-08 Guinness Premiership Final at Twickenham, where Wasps beat Leicester Tigers 26–16. Retiring Wasps captain Lawrence Dallaglio dedicated the victory to Hignell.[4] Later in 2008 he provided weekly rugby podcasts on the This is Bristol website.[5]

Charity work[edit]

Alastair Hignell became Patron of Multiple Sclerosis UK (MS-UK) (formally Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre) in 2002 and has since been active in raising funds for the charity.[6][7]

In 2008, inspired by Alastair's heroic achievements on and off the pitch, Higgy's Heroes, a fundraising body linked to MS-UK was created. Initially a one-off idea by a group of ex-teammates and opponents who decided to run the London Marathon in tribute to Hignell, the name and the idea continued beyond this one event. Since then there have been a number of Higgy's Heroes fundraising events largely based on physical achievements or sports activities. These include participants at the London Marathon and a regular large turn out in Alastair's home town for the yearly Stroud Half Marathon.[8][9][10] Alastair moved to Brighton after living in Stroud for four years.


Hignell won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Helen Rollason Award in 2008 for his work in spreading awareness of multiple sclerosis.[7]

Hignell was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2009 Birthday Honours.[11]

He won the 'Best Rugby Book' category in the 2012 British Sports Book Awards for the book Higgy.[12]


  1. ^ The Daily Telegraph birthdays, 4 September 2010
  2. ^ Optima - The Fitzwilliam College Journal No 8, Autumn 2005, p6 Archived 14 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ John Griffiths (1 August 2012). "The Olympics, high-scoring draws and Cambridge dual-captains". ESPN.
  4. ^ "Dallaglio - It's not about me". Sky Sports. 31 May 2008. Archived from the original on 23 March 2009. Retrieved 31 May 2008.
  5. ^ "This is Bristol". Archived from the original on 8 January 2009. Retrieved 6 December 2008.
  6. ^ "MS-UK | Multiple Sclerosis Information, Helpline, support, MS news and research". Multiple Sclerosis-UK. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  7. ^ a b "Alastair Hignell: 'I've seen so much kindness. There's no point being negative'". The Independent. ESI Media. 12 January 2009. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  8. ^ Stroud News and Journal
  9. ^ "Higgy's Heroes". Archived from the original on 8 February 2011. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  10. ^ "Higgy's Heroes". Multiple Sclerosis Research Centre. Archived from the original on 16 December 2010. Retrieved 15 April 2011.
  11. ^ "No. 59090". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 June 2009. p. 7.
  12. ^ "Standard's rugby columnist Hignell is honoured". Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard. Newsquest Media (Southern). 23 May 2012. Retrieved 27 November 2012.

External links[edit]