The long and rich history of Featherstone Rovers Rugby League Football Club

Monday, 17 June 2013

Featherstone’s Most Capped Player

Jimmy Thompson holds the record for most caps gained whilst a Featherstone player. He won 20 caps between 1970 and 1977. After leaving Featherstone for Bradford he won one further cap, making a total of 21. However, the Rovers player who won most caps in his career was another player from that same era. Steve Nash signed for Featherstone as a diminutive scrum-half in 1967, and our half-backs at that time were Mick Smith and Carl Dooler. Steve actually made his debut at stand-off, filling in for few games when Rovers had made it to Wembley and were resting players before the final. Just over a year later Carl Dooler had been sold to Hull KR and the number seven shirt was Nash’s for the next seven years.

Within four seasons Nash’s club form had been sufficiently impressive to warrant an international call up. He won his first Great Britain cap in 1971 against France at St.Helens. Britain won 24-2, Steve Nash’s half-back partner Roger Millward got two tries and there was a rare try from dashing second-rower Jimmy Thompson. Nash did enough to keep his place in the GB squad, and he faced both France and New Zealand the following season. In November 1972 the Rugby League World Cup was held in France. An impressive British side won all their games with Steve Nash at scrum–half, including a 53-19 thrashing of New Zealand. Nash scored his first international try that day and half-back partner John Holmes had a field day. In the World Cup final Britain drew 10 all with Australia, a game which included a sensational length of the field try from Clive Sullivan. Extra time was played, but as the scores remained level, the World Cup was awarded to Britain, as they had won the group. Nash became the first and only Featherstone player to get a World Cup winner’s medal. Ex-Rover Terry Clawson was also in the line up.

Nash’s international career continued with six caps on the 1974 tour. This was a golden age for Featherstone rugby, as both Jimmy Thompson and Keith Bridges also figured prominently on that tour. The same trio were selected to represent England at the 1975 World Championship. Steve Nash then left Rovers for Salford after a record domestic transfer fee of £15,000. He had won sixteen GB caps in his career so far. At Salford he went on to win eight more caps. In 1977 alongside Peter Smith and Jimmy Thompson he was once again in Britain’s World Cup squad, and all three players appeared in the 1977 World Cup final which Great Britain lost 13-12. It was Thompson’s second final after 1970, and also of course Nash’s second final too.

After playing all three tests against the 1978 Kangaroos Nash was selected for his second tour in 1979 but didn’t play any test rugby. He might have thought his international career was over, but he was (unwisely in the event) recalled to face the might of the 1982 Kangaroos in the twilight of his career. He was the GB captain for the first test at Hull when Great Britain were slaughtered and the gulf between the British and Australian games was finally fully exposed. It was a disappointing end to a very respectable international career. He was replaced as captain for the second test by Jeff Grayshon, then of Bradford, another member of a select band of players who have had the privilege of both captaining Great Britain and playing for Featherstone Rovers in their career.

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