David Duckham

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David Duckham
David Duckham c1974.jpg
Birth nameDavid John Duckham MBE
Date of birth (1946-06-28) 28 June 1946 (age 75)
Place of birthCoventry, Warwickshire, England
Height6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight14 st 9 lb (93 kg)
Rugby union career
Position(s) Wing
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
1967–1979 Coventry 188 (88)
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
British and Irish Lions

David John Duckham MBE (born 28 June 1946)[1] is a retired English rugby union player. He played 36 games for England from 1969 to 1976 and scored 10 tries. Duckham made his debut at centre, partnering John Spencer against Ireland in 1969.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Coventry, Warwickshire, and educated at Coundon Infant and Junior School and King Henry VIII Grammar School,[2]

Rugby playing career[edit]

For his club, Coventry, he played 12 seasons from 1967 to 1979.

Duckham made his international debut for England against Ireland in 1969, and quickly established himself as one of England's best centres, playing alongside John Spencer. His game was marked by pace, swerves, sidesteps and an ability to wrong-foot his opponents, although this came at a time when the English team were struggling, especially against rivals Wales.

In the late 1960s and thereafter he was played on the wing for his country and in 1971 was part of the successful British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.[3] Encouraged by coach Carwyn James, he found an attacking freedom that was lacking in the English game. He scored 11 tries in his 16 games on tour.[4]

He was the only English back in the 1973 Barbarians side that beat the All Blacks 23–11 at Cardiff Arms Park. In the first half he made a run that has become part of rugby lore, that brought gasps and cheers from a Welsh crowd more accustomed to regarding him with hostility. When he broke through the All Black defence, he appeared to confuse the commentator, Cliff Morgan, who did not know whether Duckham had sidestepped or dummied. He even sent the cameraman the wrong way; his change of direction was such that the camera went to the right and Duckham disappeared out of shot to the left.

After the match he was given the nickname 'Dai' by the Welsh fans because he played like one of their own.

Duckham was injured and unavailable for the 1974 British Lions tour to South Africa.

Arguably his best performances in later years were overseas or for Coventry.[citation needed] He made his last appearance against Scotland at Murrayfield in 1976.

After retirement from rugby[edit]

Duckham worked for building societies and banks, and as director of marketing for Bloxham School.[5]

He has written an autobiography called Dai for England.


For his services to rugby he was awarded the MBE.

Charitable work[edit]

He is an Honorary President of the rugby charity Wooden Spoon improving the lives of disadvantaged children and young people in Britain and Ireland.


  1. ^ Griffiths, John (1987). The Phoenix Book of International Rugby Records. London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd. pp. 12:5. ISBN 0-460-07003-7.
  2. ^ The UK's Longest Established Talent Agency & Speaker Bureau. Gordonpoole.com. Retrieved 2016-07-12.
  3. ^ David Duckham. lionsrugby.com
  4. ^ "11: David Duckham". BBC News. 13 January 2004. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  5. ^ "Where Are They Now?: David Duckham". The Independent. 22 October 2011. Retrieved 13 May 2021.