William Leake (rugby union)

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William Martin-Leake
Full name William Ralph Martin-Leake
Date of birth (1865-12-21)21 December 1865
Place of birth Ceylon
Date of death 14 November 1942(1942-11-14) (aged 76)
Place of death Godalming, England
School Clifton College
Dulwich College
University Selwyn College, Cambridge
Rugby union career
Position(s) Halfback
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
Cambridge University R.U.F.C.
Harlequin F.C.
Barbarian F.C.
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1891  England 3 (0)

William Ralph Martin-Leake (21 December 1865 – 14 November 1942)[1] was an English rugby union forward who played club rugby for Cambridge University and the Harlequins and international rugby for England. In 1890 Leake became one of the original members of the Barbarians Football Club.

Leake also played cricket as a youth, representing Dulwich College.[2] Despite his father winning four sporting 'Blues' for Cambridge at cricket, Leake instead focused on rugby, winning three 'Blues' at rugby football.

Personal history[edit]

Leake was born in Ceylon in 1865 to William Martin-Leake and Louisa Harriet Tennant. William was a civil engineer who was employed in Ceylon, but later became a coffeeplanter. Louisa was the daughter of Col. Sir James Tennant of the Bengal Artillery. Leake was educated in Britain, at Clifton and Dulwich College, before matriculating to Selwyn College, Cambridge in 1885.[3] He received his BA in 1888 and from 1889 to 1909 he was Assistant Master at his old school, Dulwich College. In 1909 he was ordained as a deacon, and then ordained as a priest in 1910 at Southwark Cathedral. From 1909 he held two positions at Dulwich, Assistant Chaplain of the College and Head of Dulwich Preparatory School.[3] Leake held both posts until his retirement in 1937, but after portions of the school were unable to be evacuated owing to the air-raids of World War II, he returned to take charge of part of the school.[3] His son Major Stephen Philip Martin-Leake died in Albania in WW2.[4]

Leake was also a published writer, compiling a history of Arthur Herman Gilkes, a headmaster of Dulwich College; the book is titled Gilkes and Dulwich, 1885–1914: A Study of a Great Headmaster (1928).

Rugby career[edit]

Leake first came to note as a rugby player when he captained Dulwich College rugby football team in 1883–1884; he was also captain of the college cricket team in 1884.[5] When Leake matriculated to Selwyn College he then represented Cambridge University. Leake won three sporting 'Blues' at University in 1885, 1886 and 1887, all awarded for rugby football for playing in the Varsity Match. Cambridge won all three matches during this period, and although Leake did not score in any of the games he played well, especially in 1886 and 1887, setting up a late try in the 1887 game.[6]

On leaving Cambridge, Leake continued to play rugby and joined English team Harlequins. In 1890 while representing Harlequins, Leake was approached by William Percy Carpmael to join his newly formed invitational touring team, the Barbarians. Leake accepted and became a founding member of the club.[7]

Leake gained his first international cap during the 1891 Home Nations Championship, an away game to Wales at Rodney Parade. Leake had an excellent debut, setting up Christopherson's first try after eluding his Welsh counterpart Hugh Ingledew.[8] England won 7–3, and Leake was rewarded for his confident start with reselection for the next two games of the tournament. Leake, partnered at half back with John Berry, was part of a winning England team in the second game, against Ireland, but England lost to Scotland in the Championship decider. The next season, the English selectors chosse the Bradford pairing of Emmott and Briggs at half back, and Leake never represented his county again.

Leake is mentioned briefly in Hugh de Selincourt's fictional book Relams of Day; Selincourt would have been familiar with Leake as a past pupil of Dulwich College, a few years behind Leake.

Further reading[edit]

  • Smith, Neil (2008), Dulwich and Beyond


  • Griffiths, John (1987). The Phoenix Book of International Rugby Records. London: Phoenix House. ISBN 0-460-07003-7. 
  • Jenkins, Vivian (1981). Rothmans Rugby Yearbook 1981–82. Aylesbury: Rothmans Publications Ltd. ISBN 0-907574-05-X. 


  1. ^ William Leake player profile Scrum.com
  2. ^ William Leake cricket profile rammycricket.co.uk
  3. ^ a b c "Leake, William (LK885WR)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  4. ^ CWGC: Stephen Philip Martin-Leake
  5. ^ Dulwich College, Sport dulwich.org.uk
  6. ^ Marshall, Howard; Jordon, J.P. (1951). Oxford v Cambridge, The Story of the University Rugby Match. London: Clerke & Cockeran. pp. 63–70. 
  7. ^ Starmer-Smith, Nigel (1977). The Barbarians. Macdonald & Jane's Publishers. p. 225. ISBN 0-86007-552-4. 
  8. ^ Griffiths, John (1982). The Book of English International Rugby 1872–1982. London: Willow Books. p. 55. ISBN 0002180065.