Sedbergh and Rugby remember two distinguished Old Boys who gave their lives in the early months of the Great War, Frederick Turner of Sedbergh and Ronald W Poulton of Rugby.
The pre-war Captains of England and Scotland met at Oxford University and went on to Captain their countries, leading them both in the final Home international at Inverleith, Edinburgh on 21 March 1914, which England won 16-15 to win the Triple Crown and Calcutta Cup. After the game, Turner invited Poulton to travel to Sedbergh the next day, where they ran the Ten mile course together, the day before the Race itself. Both had played rugby at each other’s schools, as well as appearing in the same Oxford sides together, Poulton succeeding Turner as Captain in his final year. More detailed information of these two distinguished friends and sportsmen is available on the Pilgrimage website and in the club obituaries.
Rugby school hosted a special weekend at Rugby for their guests from Sedbergh who included the Headmaster, Chairman of Governors, Bursar, OS Club President, Chairman and Officers, Sports Staff, President of SSFC, the Sedbergh FC XV and other Old Sedberghians. This coincided exactly with the centenary of FH Turner’s death to a sniper’s bullet at Ypres on 10 January 1915. Poulton’s death followed a few months later on 5 May, also to a sniper at Ploegsteert, near Ypres.
On the eve of the match, a Commemorative Dinner was held for both Schools and their players. The Headmaster of Rugby welcomed the Guests from Sedbergh, and Michel Raw spoke eloquently to the Memory of both Turner and Poulton. A transcript of this speech can be downloaded here.
Finlay Calder, former Captain of Scotland and British Lions, then spoke of the Spirit of Rugby, and the Headmaster of Sedbergh, Andrew Fleck, brought formalities to an end with a vote of thanks which concluded with a special message to the players of both teams from AAS ‘Archie’ Scott (OS), the nephew of FH Turner.
The next day the Sedbergh contingent attended morning Chapel Service, during which the visitors made a conspicuous contribution to the quality of congregational singing.
An early Kick Off was preceded by a Minute’s Silence by both sides and a considerable spectator presence, including many OSs. The game was played in dry but cold conditions with a strong wind favouring the side playing towards the Chapel end of The Close. In a fast flowing match, with the game ranging from end to end, Rugby ran out eventual winners 20-19 in an entertaining encounter, in which Sedbergh ran the ball at every opportunity, but came up short in finishing pace and power.
After the game, Simon Brown, Director of Sport at Rugby thanked both sides for their contribution to a memorable game, and Freddie Renwick (P) Captain of Sedbergh then spoke and congratulated Rugby, to which Rugby’s Captain responded, and mementos were exchanged.
Formal proceedings then concluded with the unveiling of a Memorial Bench overlooking The Close by Simon Penniston, President of the Rugbeian Society. The inscription on this reads as follows:-
” Ronald Poulton-Palmer (Rugby 1903-08) Frederick Turner (Sedbergh 1902-07)
Two outstanding players, National Captains, and Friends, killed in WW1 1915.
Presented in the centenary year of their sacrifice on the Western Front. ”
We are most grateful to Rugby School for their gracious hospitality and reception, and for their assistance in facilitating a dignified and memorable occasion to remember two distinguished Old Boys of their Schools. On the day, it was the spirit of the game of Rugby which carried off the honours, reflected uniquely and poignantly in the memory of two of its finest exponents.
Neil McKerrow – President OS Club – Feb. 2015