Peter Robbins (rugby player)

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Peter Robbins
Full name Peter George Derek Robbins
Date of birth (1933-09-21)21 September 1933
Place of birth Coventry, England
Date of death 25 March 1987(1987-03-25) (aged 53)
Place of death Birmingham
School Bishop Vesey's Grammar School
University Oxford
Occupation(s) Schoolteacher
Business person
Rugby union career
Position(s) Flanker
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1956–1962 England 19 ()

Peter George Derek Robbins (21 September 1933 – 25 March 1987), also known as P. G. D. Robbins, was an international rugby union player who earned 19 caps playing for England.


Robbins was born in Coventry on 21 September 1933, with his twin David, the eighth and ninth children of twelve by Charles and Jessamine Robbins.[1] He was educated at Bishop Vesey's Grammar School and St Edmund Hall, Oxford,[1][2] with National Service in the Royal Air Force Regiment in between.[1] After university, he took a position as a French and Latin teacher at King Edward's School, Birmingham from 1958[3] to 1968, before going into commerce.[1][4] After several employments he eventually set up his own company, West Midlands Cleaning Services in 1979.[1] He was also a public speaker and a writer, being Rugby correspondent for the Financial Times.[2][4]

He married Eileen Lemon, whom he met while she was still at school, in September 1958[3] and they had two children, Richard and Helen.[1]

Along with many other rugby players he was a keen golfer, and it became his main sporting activity after he finished playing rugby.[1] He liked jazz music and played the double bass.[1][4]

He died 25 March 1987 in the Priory Hospital, Edgbaston, Birmingham of a cerebral haemorrhage.[1][5]

Sporting career[edit]

Robbins played the position then known as wing forward in the back row, firstly for Coventry and Oxford University where he earned 4 “blues” and was captain of his final match. He played in the combined Oxford and Cambridge teams international tours in 1955, 1956 and 1957. It was while still a student that he played for England the first time on 21 January 1956, against Wales. He went on to play for England a total of 19 times, the last being 17 March 1962 against Scotland.[2] After leaving university he joined Moseley Rugby Football Club, which he captained, then later went back to Coventry, which he also captained. He also played 12 games for the Barbarians rugby team, including captain in 1959,[6] and was player-manager for the 1963 Oxford and Cambridge rugby tour of East and South Africa.[2] He was selected for the British Lions tour of New Zealand in 1959, but broke his leg in a Barbarians match, and thus never had this sporting honour.[1][7]

On the field, he was known for his speed, and according to fellow team player M. J. K. Smith "I never saw him commit a foul in his life."[1]

The Rugby Football Union barred Robbins from any activity associated with the national amateur game (playing, coaching etc.), when he started contributing to the Financial Times on rugby matters, counting him as a professional.[1]


“What is rugby? It is a strong drink to be sipped slowly and in the company of true friends”[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Michael Blair "Life at One Hundred miles an hour – A biography of P.G.D. Robbins (G & A Publishing, Ludlow)
  2. ^ a b c d Moseley Rugby Club Internationals
  3. ^ a b Chronicle( King Edward's School, Birmingham) March 1959 pp 2-3
  4. ^ a b c Chronicle( King Edward's School, Birmingham) May 1968 page 10
  5. ^ ESPN Scrum England Players and Officials: Peter Robbins
  6. ^ Barbarian FC Archive P G D Robbins
  7. ^ Daily Mirror 1 April 1959 p 23 "Rugby Lion Breaks Leg"
  8. ^ John Griffiths (2007) ‘What is a Loose Head? – the mysteries of rugby explained’ (Robson Books) ISBN 1861059817 page 111

Further reading[edit]

  • Michael Blair (1988) Life at One Hundred Miles an Hour – a biography of P. G. D. Robbins (G&A Publishing) ASIN: B0015KL2BK
  • John Griffiths (2009) Rugby's Greatest Characters (JR Books) ISBN 1906779155

External links[edit]