Wolverhampton school teacher Sam Doble may have only won three caps for his country, but he was one of the game's most popular characters and his tragically early death in 1977 at the age of 33 was mourned throughout English rugby. Sam first came to public attention when he scored an astonishing 581 points for Moseley (who he is pictured above playing for at their former ground) in the 1971/72 domestic season, an achievement that earned him an England call up. His debut was one to remember, an 18-9 victory over South Africa in Johannesburg, against a side that were considered to be the unofficial World Champions. England were on the back foot early on when they lost prop Brian "Stack" Stevens to injury and had to contest seven man scrums for twenty minutes. However, the visiting side's makeshift front row did not lose one strike against the head and England gradually took control of the game when Stevens returned.
With the forwards keeping the Springboks at bay, Doble scored four penalties and converted Alan Morley's second half try from the touchline to help England to a most unlikely victory. Despite his heroics in South Africa, Sam was destined to play in just two more matches, a 10-0 loss to New Zealand early in 1973 and a 25-9 loss to Wales in the following Five Nations campaign. England were outscored by five tries to nil, but Sam did manage to sign off his international account with two penalties to augment a drop goal by Dick Cowman.
Then, just four years later, at around 4.30pm when referees around the country were blowing their whistles, Sam died of a rare form of lymphatic cancer. His life was honoured with a special match between the Barbarians and Moseley later in the year, and he is still fondly remembered by all those who knew him. Thirty years on, the victorious England side of Ellis Park '72 met up at Twickenham to watch Clive Woodward's England beat South Africa 53-3. Only one player was sadly missing. (Jon Collins)