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News > Archives & History > A call from the Webb Ellis Rugby Football Museum

A call from the Webb Ellis Rugby Football Museum

Bishops gets approached to send some memorabilia to the UK.
9 Jun 2023
United Kingdom
Archives & History

In the town of Rugby in the UK, is the Webb Ellis Rugby Football Museum, located less than 100 yards where the game of rugby football began.  One of the features of the site is that rugby balls have bee hand-stitched on the site for over 180 years.  On view, is a wealth of rugby memorabilia for the rugby enthusiast. 

The Museum recently approached Bishops as one of the game’s most historic schools, to send some memorabilia, which reached the Museum this week.

The school archivist in consultation with the Principal’s office, sent two items on loan as well as two books as gifts from the school. 

The first item on loan is the First XV jersey and cap of MICHAEL JOHN SCHONEGEVEL (1935 – 1984):

Michael ‘Mike’ Schonegevel was at Bishops Diocesan College from 1943 and matriculated in 1953, where he was the Second Prefect in that year.  He was a Student Officer in the College Cadet Corps.

He subsequently went to Gonville & Caius aka ‘Keys’ in Cambridge where he studied for a degree in Law.  After returning from Cambridge, he was a judge’s registrar in Johannesburg, before joining the oil industry in 1958.  His career was with BP Southern Africa filling senior positions. 

During his rugby career at Bishops, Mike played rugby in the scrum-half position, and was awarded full colours and capped in 1953. 

The jersey to be displayed is his First XV jersey, sporting the colours of Bishops Diocesan College (est. 1849) and the cap he was capped with will also feature in the display. 

The second is the Springbok cap of THOMAS ALEXANDER GENTLES (1934 – 2011).

Thomas ‘Tommy’ Gentles was at Bishops from 1945 until 1951, the year he matriculated in the first class.  He was a House Prefect in Gray House as well as a corporal in the College Cadet Corps. 

Early on in his sport career, he was identified as ‘the greatest promise’ by Frank Reid, OD Secretary and the inaugural recipient of the Rhodes scholarship in the world.  Tommy won the Jamison Prize in 1951 for the best all-round sportsman. 

When still a junior, he was selected for the Western Province and South African Schools Sides, in 1950 and 1951.  Tommy played for Western Province and for South Africa, between 1955 and 1958.  

Gentles is one of the players that initiated the dive pass much to the dismay of classical players who propagated the style of staying on your feet.  He subsequently went to play rugby league for Wigam in 1959 where his career was short-lived before returning to South Africa in 1961. 

The cap that will be on display is for representing South Africa (Springboks) in 1956/7 against New Zealand, away.  His test debut was South Africa versus the British Lions at Johannesburg on 6 August 1955; his last test was against France at Johannesburg on 16 August 1958. 

In addition, two books were sent as gifts:

1) 'Bishops Rugby – A History' by former Bishops teacher, Paul Dobson, one of the most knowledgeable people on the game of rugby football, and father of Stormer’s Coach, OD, John Dobson; as well as

2) ‘25 Great South African Rugby Schools’ published by OD Don Nelson OD. 

ODs in the area wanting to visit the Museum, can CLICK ON THIS LINK to find out exactly where they are located and what their openinig hours are.


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