Henry Toft

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H B Toft
Full name Herbert Toft
Date of birth 2 October 1909
Place of birth Salford
Date of death 7 July 1987
Place of death (registered in) Chichester (aged 77 years 278 days)
School Manchester Grammar School
University Manchester University[1]
Occupation(s) [Headmaster and Captain of England's Rugby Team]
Rugby union career
Position(s) Hooker
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1936-1939  England 10 Pts:0;

Herbert Toft, (1909–1987) known as H B Toft, Henry Toft or Bert Toft, was a rugby union international who represented England from 1936 to 1939.[2] He also captained his country.[2]

Early life[edit]

Hebert Toft was born on 2 October 1909 in Salford.[2] He attended Manchester Grammar School and then Manchester University,[1] returning to his school to become a teacher and later headmaster.[1] Born Herbert Toft, he was known by a number of variations on this. Although named Herbert, by the time he was at university he was known as Henry. One explanation of why he then became known as H B Toft was that when it became apparent that of the founders of the Manchester XXI Club he was the only one with one forename, they rechristened him Henry "Bloody" Toft.[3] However, he had also been known as Bert due to a foreshortening of his birth name. This was combined with his nickname Henry such that he became known as Henry Bert Toft, and thence H B Toft. So ubiquitous was the use of Henry Bert Toft as his name that some commentators on the sport cite Henry Bert as his forenames.[4]

Rugby union career[edit]

Toft played for Sale Rugby Club and made his international debut on 21 March 1936 at Twickenham in the England vs Scotland match.[2] Of the 10 matches he played for his national side he was on the winning side on 7 occasions.[2] He played his final match for England on 18 March 1939 at Murrayfield in the Scotland vs England match.[2] His rugby career was interrupted by World War II when he left to serve in the Royal Air Force.


  1. ^ a b c Steve Lewis, One Among Equals, pages 141, 2008 (Vertical Editions:London)
  2. ^ a b c d e f Herbert Toft Profile on scrum.com
  3. ^ University of Manchester XXI Club - Club History: The First 25 Years - written by Allister Cranna (Cross Country 1944)
  4. ^ Steve Lewis, One Among Equals, pages 278, 2008 (Vertical Editions:London)
  • [1] RAF V Paris at Parc Des Princes 11 November 1944
  • [2] The RAF team who played in the last wartime fixture at Swansea with South Wales whom they beat 22-3 on 7 October 1944.