- Born 19 October 1880
- Died 6 August 1916
- Won seven England caps
Leonard Haigh was born in Prestwich, Manchester, one of two sons of Charles Henry Haigh, a yarn merchant, and his wife Alice Clara.
His only known education was at Sandringham House School in Southport, where his sporting activity was association football and cricket. Little is known of the school, which closed in the mid-1930s when it became a hotel.
Working in and around Manchester during the early 1900s in the cotton spinning trade, Leonard Haigh started playing rugby with the Manchester club, for whom he was captain in 1910.
Having played for Lancashire, the Barbarians and North of England, his first England cap came against Ireland in 1910. He played a total of seven times for England in that and the following season, including in the inaugural international at Twickenham v Wales (15 January 1910) famously won by England and leading to the team being unbeaten at HQ for some 18 years.
In 1912, at the age of 31, he married Eudora Mason in Timperley, Cheshire, and they had one son, John Guy Leonard Haigh.
Haigh was a keen motorist who had developed a strong interest in workings of these rapidly developing vehicles. He was therefore assigned to the Army Service Corps as an Officer Cadet.
The Army Service Corps was huge, with some ten thousand officers and three hundred thousand men at its peak. As motorized transport gradually took over from horses, men such as Haigh with good mechanical knowledge were kept away from front line duties.
Whilst still in officer training at Woolwich, Haigh developed double pneumonia during exercises, succumbing to the illness on 6 August 1916. He was thus never commissioned and never able to turn his mechanical knowledge to the benefit of his country.
The Haigh Cup
Private Leonard Haigh is buried in Pott Shrigley (St. Christopher) Churchyard, Cheshire – New part, Grave 99.
His son, John Guy Leonard Haigh, is buried with him in Grave 99, and a single Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone records both names. John was a Pilot Officer in the RAF in WW2 and died on 20 October 1939.
Leonard Haigh is also remembered on Bollington War Memorial, Cheshire, and in St Oswald’s Church, Bollington.
Every season Manchester RFC awards the Haigh Cup to the player making most 1st XV appearances. The cup itself had been won by Haigh at his other main sport – golf. His wife Eudora did not re-marry, dying in 1981 aged 95.
For more information on the Rugby Football Union’s First World War commemorations, click here
For details of the other 26 fallen England players, click here.