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A rare slice of rugby history

John GriffithsApril 8, 2014
The 1924-25 Wisden Rugby Almanack © Wisden
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When did Wisden bring out a Rugby Almanack? Martin Smith, England

There were three editions produced in the 1920s along the same lines as the famous Cricketer's Almanack.

English rugby was sailing the crest of the wave between 1910 and 1924. They were unbeaten in the Five Nations at Twickenham during this period and won the Grand Slam five times. The game was growing in popularity and the autumn of 1923 saw the first ever weekly magazine (Rugby Football) devoted entirely to Rugby Union appear on the news-stands as well as the first edition of John Wisden's Rugby Football Almanack.

The handbook ran to 510 pages, appeared between blue paperback covers and cost the princely sum of five shillings (25 pence in today's money). It was edited by C Stewart Caine of Fleet Street's Football Reporting Agency.

The content was a mix of record and comment and their four featured Players of the Year were all English - wing Cyril "Kid" Lowe, the famous half-backs W J A "Dave" Davies & C A "K" Kershaw and forward Wavell Wakefield - with Leslie Gracie (Scotland), Ernie Crawford (Ireland), Rowe Harding (Wales) and France's René Lasserre singled out for special mention.

There were further editions in 1924-25 and 1925-6, by which time the pagination had increased to 718, but with interest in the game starting to wane the company felt unable to support further publication. It has never appeared since.

John Griffiths is a widely respected rugby historian and is the author of several sports books, a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and co-author of the IRB International Rugby Yearbook. He has provided insight for Scrum.com since 1999.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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Writer Bio

John Griffiths is a widely respected rugby historian and is the author of several sports books, a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and co-author of the IRB International Rugby Yearbook. He has provided insight for Scrum.com since 1999.

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