John Spencer (rugby union)

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John Spencer
Birth nameJohn Southern Spencer
Date of birth (1947-08-10) 10 August 1947 (age 71)
Place of birthGrassington, Yorkshire, England
UniversityCambridge University
Rugby union career
Position(s) Centre
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
Cambridge University
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1969-1971 England 14 (6)

John Southern Spencer (born 10 August 1947)[1] is a former England international rugby union player.

Early life[edit]

Spencer was born in Grassington, Yorkshire, in 1947 and educated at Cressbrook, Sedbergh School, and Queens' College, Cambridge.

Playing Career[edit]

Spencer played for Cambridge in the Varsity Matches of 1967, 1968 and 1969. He played club rugby for Headingley as a centre and made his England debut at the age of 21 against Ireland at Lansdowne Road, Dublin, in February 1969. He went on to play 14 times for England, scoring 2 tries. His last game was against the President's Overseas XV in a Rugby Football Union centenary match at Twickenham in April 1971. He captained England in four internationals.

Spencer was selected for the 1971 British Lions tour to New Zealand and played in ten matches on the tour but failed to make the grade for any of the four test matches against the All Blacks. He also represented the Barbarians.

Administrative Roles[edit]

He is now President of the RFU as well as President of the Wharfedale R.U.F.C. in Grassington.

Spencer was the tour manager for the British and Irish Lions on their 2017 tour to New Zealand.[2]

False allegations and inferences ref. Mike Gibson[edit]

The first edition of book When Lions Roared, concerning the 1971 Lions, included a quote from Spencer implying that Mike Gibson manipulated team selection to guarantee his own position as a test centre, which had caused John Spencer and other centres to miss out on test selection. Gibson was on the team selection panel.[3] A High Court ruling in June 2018 found that these allegations and inferences had no basis.[4] After the publisher and authors of the book found no truth in Spencer's allegations, they removed the quote from the second edition of the book and apologised unreservedly to Mike Gibson for any offence caused. Spencer has yet to apologise for his statements.

Personal life[edit]

Spencer has three children, David, Hazel and Emily.


Sporting positions
Preceded by
Tony Bucknall
English National Rugby Union Captain
Succeeded by
Bob Hiller
Preceded by
Bob Hiller
English National Rugby Union Captain
Succeeded by
Bob Hiller