Emotional day for the family of rugby star

ARU Chairman Michael Hawker, James Garnett and World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset. Photo by Matt Lewis - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images. NNL-150922-165711001
ARU Chairman Michael Hawker, James Garnett and World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset. Photo by Matt Lewis - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images. NNL-150922-165711001

A relation of a former England captain who has been inducted into the Rugby Hall of Fame collected the award on his behalf on Sunday.

James Garnett is the great nephew of Ronald Poulton-Palmer, who is regarded as one of the best rugby players to have graced the sport in the early 20th Century.

Mr Poulton-Palmer played centre from 1909-14 and captained England to the 1914 Grand Slam where he scored four tries against France - a record that still stands in international rugby. But tragedy was to follow a year after the team’s success when he was killed by a German sniper while serving his country during the First World War.

Mr Garnett lives in Sulgrave and along with his wife Sarah they attended the ceremony at Wembley which inducted 25 players from seven countries and across three centuries before New Zealand’s World Cup clash with Argentina.

Mr Garnett said: “It was an emotional privilege to be able to collect the award on my great uncle’s behalf with 24 legendary players over time. To be in the company of such legends as World Cup winners Tim Horan and Joost van de Westhuizen was very emotional.”

Born in Oxford to a wealthy family in 1889, Mr Poulton-Palmer was educated at Oxford and excelled in most sports before opting to concentrate entirely on rugby.

A fine all-round sportsman in his school days, he quickly developed into one of the finest rugby players of his generation.

Easy on the eye both in terms of his good looks and playing style, the centre three-quarter is widely referred to as rugby’s first real superstar. Always self-effacing, Poulton-Palmer took the hype surrounding him from an early age in his long stride.

In just six seasons of senior rugby, as an international and with Oxford University, Harlequins, Liverpool and representative sides East Midlands and London, Poulton-Palmer broke countless individual records – some that survive to this day – and left a lasting impression on everyone who saw him play.

Players from a wide array of backgrounds were honoured at the special presentation in the Spirit of Rugby lounge at Wembley, with eighteen captains of their country included.

South Africa have five representatives. England, Ireland and Scotland have three and two from France and Australia.

Notable inclusions are Irishman Fergus Slattery, Welsh legends and Lions Mervyn Davies and Phil Bennett, former Scottish fullback Andy Irvine and coaching guru Carywn James.