Arthur Wilson (rugby union)

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Arthur Wilson
Full name Arthur James Wilson
Date of birth (1886-12-29)29 December 1886
Place of birth Newcastle upon Tyne, England, United Kingdom
Date of death 31 July 1917(1917-07-31) (aged 30)
Place of death Flanders, Belgium
Rugby union career
Position(s) Forward
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1909 England 1 (0)

Military career
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Rank Private
Unit 12 Royal Fusiliers
Olympic medal record
Men's Rugby union
Silver medal – second place 1908 London Team competition

Arthur James Wilson (29 December 1886 – 31 July 1917)[1] was a British rugby union player who competed in the 1908 Summer Olympics and represented the England national team. He was a member of the British rugby union team, which won the silver medal.

Early life[edit]

Arthur Wilson was born on 29 December 1886 in Newcastle upon Tyne, the son of Henry and Emily Wilson. He attended the Glenalmond School and then the Camborne School of Mines.[2]

Rugby career[edit]

Cornwall rugby olympics 1908

Wilson was selected to play for Cornwall on seventeen occasions. He was part of the Cornwall team that reached the County Championship final for the first time in 1908, against Durham. The match, contested on 28 March 1908 at Redruth, Cornwall, was won by Cornwall 17–3.[2]

In 1908, the Olympic Games were hosted in London, and it was decided to include rugby in the event. Although several international teams had initially entered the tournament,[3] the Home Nations were unable to decide amongst themselves who should represent the United Kingdom, and France, the previous winners, withdrew. The Wallabies were then on a tour of the Home Nations, and were the only team left. The RFU asked Cornwall, the day after Australia had beaten them 18–5, to represent the United Kingdom and to provide some opposition to Australia, rather than allow them to win by default. The match was held on 26 October. The previous day, the Cornwall team took the train to London, stopping off at Plymouth to have lunch and consume alcohol, then continued their festivities on reaching London. On the day of the match, the Cornish team took a tour of the city in the morning, followed by lunch at the Garden Club, at the invitation of the President of the Cornish Rugby Union. The match was played at White City alongside the outdoor swimming pool. Australia won the game 32–3. The Times reported "Cornwall completely failed to find their game, their forwards executed a few good rushes but their backs, without exception, were not only too slow but were continually failing in their fielding. One expected better football from the champion county side."[4] The Australian newspaper The Age remarked: "The Cornwall forwards were good, but their backs were outpaced and beaten by the cleverness of the Australians."[3] At 21 years of age, Wilson was the youngest player on the team,[5] but Australia's Dan Carroll was younger aged 16.[6]

International appearances[edit]

Opposition Score Result Date Venue Ref(s)
 Ireland 5–11 Won 13 February 1909 Lansdowne Road [7]

Military service[edit]

At the start of the First World War, Wilson enlisted in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and was killed.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Arthur Wilson at ESPNscrum
  2. ^ a b McCrery 2014, p. 75.
  3. ^ a b "Olympic Rugby Match". The Age. 28 October 1908. p. 7. Retrieved 16 July 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  4. ^ Gallagher, Brendan. "Olympic 'spirit' too much for Cornwall rugby team against Australia in 1908". Telegraph. 
  5. ^ "Great Britain Rugby at the 1908 London Summer Games". 
  6. ^ "Rugby at the 1908 London Summer Games". 
  7. ^ "Ireland v England". ESPN. 
  8. ^ McCrery 2014, p. 76.


  • McCrery, Nigel (2014). Into Touch: Rugby Internationals Killed in the Great War. Pen and Sword. ISBN 1473833213.