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It’s time to reminisce about my first test match, the time I saw Scotland v. England play in the Calcutta Cup of 1963 at Twickenham. I spotted rugby posters advertising the game in the London Underground, trained to the stadium on Saturday, and paid four-shillings ($.56) for a standing ticket.
Noticing a blue flag unknown to me, I asked what it represented. A nearby standee responded, “Scotland.” My naïve question revealed that I was an American who had only ever seen England’s Cross of St. George (on Crusaders) and the multi-colored Union Jack. (Remember, this was decades before national flags appeared on the IRB.com website for world rankings.)
In the second half, with Scotland leading 8-5, England’s fly-half sold three dummies for a 40-yard score that became known as “Sharp’s Wonder Try.” I saw none of it, the run of play heading to the far try line and out of my sight. England was victorious 10-8. A few years ago, I wrote Sharp, who responded:
“Orthodox attacking moves were difficult if not impossible following set scrums. One of the best strategies was to carry out a dummy scissor with one of the centers.”
I found online www/britishpathe.com, a repository of newsreels from the beginning of film in the U.K. I discovered that 1963 Calcutta Cup and witnessed the miraculous run. If a fan is interested in viewing old footage of Five Nation rugby games, access this site for a nostalgic trip back in time. The key search word is “Richard Sharp” for this film, and his other test matches in 1962 and 1963.
I retain two other memories from having seen that Calcutta Cup; the people around me were intrigued about the growth of rugby in America (About 25 teams in the Eastern Rugby Union in 1963.) Secondly, I was informed later that the selectors planned to drop Sharp if he failed to score, the film clearly reveals an overlap with two English backs on his outside.