- Rutherford died at the weekend
- He won 14 England caps
- Also played for British & Irish Lions
The Rugby Football Union has paid tribute to their first-ever director of rugby, Donald Rutherford OBE, who gained 14 England caps from 1960-67 and played for the 1966 British & Irish Lions, before joining the RFU. Rutherford died at the weekend aged 79.
He scored 36 points during his England career, as well as five for the Lions, prior to becoming first the RFU’s technical director, and then director of rugby, a role he held from 1969 to1999. He was awarded the OBE in 2000 in recognition of his service to rugby union, and the Dyson Award for sports coaching in 1999.
Don was a PE teacher at St Luke’s College, Exeter, did his National Service in the RAF, played for the RAF and Combined Services and, while still in the RAF, had his first England trial in 1958. He played for St Luke's College, RAF, Combined Services, Percy Park, Wasps and Northumberland, but is particularly remembered for his playing days at Gloucester from 1964 to 1968."Don was very forward thinking and ahead of his time, the game owes him a great deal."
During his time at Percy Park until 1963, he won his first four England caps. He also played a stand out game for North East Counties against the All Blacks in January 1964.
He joined Gloucester at the end of the 1963–64 season and was an ever-present for England before being selected to tour Australia and New Zealand with the Lions. He played against Australia, but in New Zealand broke his arm playing against Manuwatu. He played once more for England, against New Zealand in 1967.
Don played for the Barbarians a number of times between 1960 and 1968, including one match as captain, but broke his arm again playing for them in 1968 and retired from the game.
In 30 years at the RFU, he created coaching and playing programmes, which were adopted by rugby playing countries across the world. He wrote a number of coaching and refereeing books and manuals and, as Director of Rugby he built up a nationwide structure, from mini and youth rugby through to the national team.
Said RFU Professional Rugby Director Nigel Melville: “Don was very forward thinking and ahead of his time. The game owes him a great deal, especially in terms of coach and player development. He was one of the early instigators of different types of rugby for children, set pathways, and brought in in Youth Development Officers.
“When I captained England for the first time, Don took me through videos of the Australia game, analysed how they were going to play. It was for me an early experience of video analysis.”