William Cross (rugby union)

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William Cross
Birth nameWilliam Cross
Date of birthcirca 1851[1]
Place of birthBridgend, Wales
Date of death16 October 1890[1]
Place of deathBournemouth, England[1]
Notable relative(s)Malcolm Cross, brother
Rugby union career
Position(s) Halfback
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
Glasgow Academicals
Provincial / State sides
Years Team Apps (Points)
Glasgow District ()
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1871-1872 Scotland 2 Goals:1;

William Cross (circa 1851 - 16 October 1890)[1] was a Scottish rugby internationalist. He is notable for scoring the first conversion in international rugby in 1871 in the match between Scotland and England, after Angus Buchanan scored a pushover try, and he also Scotland's second ever try later in the match.

Rugby career[edit]

Cross represented Scotland in 1871 in the first international match. Of the Scottish score, one of the English players wrote:

Scotland's First National Rugby Team, 1871, for the 1st international, v England in Edinburgh, Scotland won by 1 goal & 1 try to 1 try
"after a maul, just outside the English goal-line the umpires ordered the ball to be put down in the scrummage five yards outside the line. It was taken was out accordingly, but, instead of putting it down, the Scottish forwards drove the entire scrummage into goal, and then grounded the ball and claimed a try. This, though illegal according to English laws, was allowed by the umpires and the goal was kicked by Cross."[2]

At the time, conversions and goals, not tries produced a score, so in fact Cross, not Buchanan was the first to put points on the board.[3] In fact, this was the only score in the match.[4]

Cross rounded off the game with a second try, ninety seconds before the final whistle, when with their forwards running riot, J.W. Arthur knocked on from a line-out and the ball looped over the English defenders, with the quick thinking Cross picking it up for Scotland's second try.[3]

Cross played for Glasgow Academicals, and Merchistonians before that, and was one of the first international half-backs, along with J.W. Arthur and their English counterparts.[3][5] He played one more international in 1872.[6] His brother Malcolm Cross gained nine caps.[6]

After his international playing career was over, Cross took up a role within the Scottish Rugby Union, and by 1877 became Scotland's second international rugby referee when he officiated an early encounter between Scotland and England. This was his only international game as a referee, but he continued promoting Scottish rugby, becoming President of the Scottish Rugby Union for the 1882-83 season.[7]


  • Bath, Richard (ed.) The Scotland Rugby Miscellany (Vision Sports Publishing Ltd, 2007 ISBN 1-905326-24-6)
  • Massie, Allan A Portrait of Scottish Rugby (Polygon, Edinburgh; ISBN 0-904919-84-6)
  1. ^ a b c d William Cross international rugby profile Scrum.com
  2. ^ Massie, p6
  3. ^ a b c Bath, pp 4,5
  4. ^ Bath, p37
  5. ^ Massie, p5
  6. ^ a b Bath, p136
  7. ^ Thorburn, A.M.C. (1985). The Scottish Rugby Union, Official History. Scottish Rugby Union and Collins Publishers. p. 100. ISBN 0-00-435697-7.