From The Vaults

22 November 2021
RFU at 150: A Royal Centenary

As the Rugby Football Union celebrates its 150th year, we wind the clock back to 1971 when it celebrated its Centenary…

In 1971, the RFU celebrated its 100th year. Victorian in spirit, it had retained much of the imperial splendour that typified that earlier age. This was reflected in the elaborate and often lavish programme of events that accompanied the marking of its centenary.

A Centenary Congress took place at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, followed by a cocktail party to which 3000 people from all corners of the globe were invited. A government reception at Westminster Banqueting Hall followed with former players, fourteen union Presidents, the Prince of Wales and the then Prime Minister, Ted Heath, in attendance. A combined England & Wales had taken on a combined Scotland & Ireland in October 1970. A second international fixture against Scotland took place in March 1971 at Murrayfield. Finally, in April, an all-star squad featuring the very best players from around the world played three matches against the English divisions before finishing their tour with an international against the full England side at Twickenham.

RFU Patron Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II welcomed the teams to Twickenham on 17th April 1971 and the RFU looked to its next half century with promise.

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This article is an extract from RFU at 150, a special exhibition produced to celebrate the sesquicentenary of the Rugby Football Union, on display until the end of 2021.