Roger Uttley is pictured above playing for Gosforth RUFC
Career Record: Played 23: Won 12, Drew 2, Lost 9. Test Points: 8, Tries: 2
| 1973 v Ireland (Dublin) L 18-9 (FN)
1973 v France (Twickenham) W 14-6 (FN)
1973 v Scotland (Murrayfield) W 20-13 (FN)
1973 v New Zealand (Auckland) W 16-10
1973 v Australia (Twickenham) W 20-3
1974 v Ireland (Twickenham) L 26-21 (FN)
1974 v France (Paris) D 12-12 (FN)
1974 v Wales (Twickenham) W 16-12 (FN)
1975 v France (Twickenham) L 27-20 (FN)
1975 v Wales (Cardiff) L 20-4 (FN)
1975 v Scotland (Twickenham) W 7-6 (FN)
1975 v Australia (Sydney) L 16-9
1975 v Australia (Brisbane) L 30-21
1977 v Scotland (Twickenham) W 26-6 (FN)
1977 v Ireland (Dublin) W 4-0 (FN)
1977 v France (Twickenham) L 4-3 (FN)
1977 v Wales (Cardiff) L 14-9 (FN)
1978 v New Zealand (Twickenham) L 16-6
1979 v Scotland (Twickenham) D 7-7 (FN)
1980 v Ireland (Twickenham) W 24-9 (FN)
1980 v France (Paris) W 17-13 (FN)
1980 v Wales (Twickenham) W 9-8 (FN)
1980 v Scotland (Murrayfield) W 30-18 (FN)
On 15/9/73 Roger was a member of the first
touring England team to beat New Zealand
(16-10 in Auckland).
Won 4 British Lions caps in 1974 v. S Africa
when the Lions won the test series 3-0.
Roger finished his international career on a high
note by playing in all 4 games of England's 1980
Grand Slam winning season..
Coach to 1989 Lions tour of Australia (won Test
Biography of his rugby union career for England.
(Part 1) 1973-1974.
Gosforth's Roger Uttley was an enormously versatile player who won eleven caps in the second row, seven at Number Eight and five on the blind side flank. Uttley was not particularly fast, but made up with strength, determination and sound ball handling skills. Roger's career began at the age of 23 in an 18-9 defeat by Ireland in the 1973 Five Nations, after which England then beat France and Scotland at Twickenham to earn a five way share of the Championship. Later in the year, Roger was also selected for both of England's impressive victories over New Zealand and Australia. In 1974 Uttley kept his place in the second row and played in three matches, including a 16-12 victory over Wales at Twickenham. Roger was then called up for the British Lions trip to South Africa in his normal position of lock, but early in the tour switched position to the flank with great effect and played in all four tests.
Uttley's addition on the blindside made for a near perfect backrow combination, with his strength complimenting the pace of Fergus Slattery and the ball handling skills of Mervyn Davies. Indeed, Roger's experience at lock meant that he could win balls at the tail end of a lineout and this removed some of the pressure from Davies. Fielding one of the strongest packs in rugby history, the Lions won the first three tests fairly comfortably to set up hopes of a 4-0 clean sweep. In the final test Roger and Andy Irvine both scored tries, but Fergus Slattery had an effort on the stroke of fulltime chalked off and the match ended 13-13. Slattery's try was widely regarded to have been good, but in some ways justice was done because photographs showed that Uttley's earlier try had actually been grounded first by the Springbok winger Chris Pope. (Jon Collins)
Roger Uttley in action for The Whites against The Reds at Twickenham. The annual trial game
to help select the England team for the forthcoming Five Nations Tournament.
Photo George Herringshaw. ©
(Part 2) 1975-1979.
In 1975 Roger played in three matches of the Five Nations Championship and both tests on England's tour of Australia. During the Australian series, Uttley and his fellow pack members were stunned by the increased power and determination of the Wallaby forwards and both matches were lost. In the first test in Sydney, England played well but did not recover from conceding a first half try by Mark Loane and losing skipper Tony Neary to injury, eventually losing 16-9. In the second test at Ballymore in Brisbane, England were reduced to 14 men early on when prop Mike Burton was sent off for a high tackle, but actually led at halftime by 15-9. However, in the second-half, the Wallaby onslaught proved to be too much and England lost by a record 30-21 scoreline. Both Roger and Peter Squires crossed the line for England, whilst one of Australia's five tries came from flanker Ray Price who would later form part of the Kangaroo Rugby League side who went unbeaten through the British Isles in 1982.
Roger did not play any test rugby in 1976, but returned as England captain in 1977. His tenure began well with two victories, but England were unable to sustain their Championship challenge and lost to France and Wales. In the next two seasons he made only a couple of appearances against New Zealand in 1978 and Scotland in 1979. However, in the autumn of 1979 Roger was part of the northern side that defeated New Zealand 21-9 by playing a traditional ten man game. He and Tony Neary totally outplayed the All Blacks in the loose and everyone expected their back row partnership to continue for England a week later against the same opponents. However, Roger was omitted in favour of Bristol's Mike Rafter and England slipped to a 10-9 defeat. Of this selection blunder, journalist Chris Laidlaw would comment in the Telegraph that "the selectors wanted Otley.....but not Uttley". (Jon Collins)
Roger Uttley pictured before England's Five Nations match against Wales on 15th. Febraury 1980.
England won 9-8. Photo George Herringshaw. ©
(Part 3) 1980.
England quickly put their disappointing display against New Zealand behind them and won their first two games of the 1980 Five Nations against Ireland and Wales to set up a Grand Slam attempt. First they had to play Wales at Twickenham, and Roger would later recall of the game: "It was a very cold, dank, horribly miserable day, and an atmosphere like something out of 'Lord Of The Rings'. Normally the reception beforehand in the West Car Park is quite genteel, but on this occasion there were people coming up clenching their fists and saying "Do this for us!", and Welshmen giving it two fingers." The match itself certainly lived up to its pre match hype and a fiery opening stanza saw the dismissal of Welsh flanker Paul Ringer for a late+high tackle on John Horton. Soon afterwards Roger felt the full power of Welsh vengeance when he went down on a loose ball near to the East Stand touchline: "As the boots came in I felt as if my head was going between the posts. The next thing I could feel the rough edge of flesh where my nose had split and there was blood everywhere. Tony Neary came over and said "Christ!" My face felt like a football." England were outscored by two tries to nil, but eventually won the game 9-8 thanks to Dusty Hare's brave last minute penalty.
Roger was carrying an injury in the final game against Scotland but stayed on the field to help England win the match 30-18, and with it the elusive Grand Slam. Having struggled with back trouble for some years, Roger called it a day after the game having won 23 caps dating back to 1973. In retirement, Uttley became Geoff Cooke's number two in the England set up and helped Will Carling's men to a Grand Slam in 1991. He was also part of the management team that orchestrated the Lions 2-1 series victory in Australia in 1989. Roger's coaching philosophy was generally along the lines of "Keep It Simple" and one of his pet hates was the spin pass, or at least the misuse of it. In one of his coaching manuals Uttley remarked "These days there's hardly an English player who steps on the field who doesn't try to throw a spin pass, even when it is totally unnecessary for the situation he's in." (Jon Collins)