Coventry & Warwickshire

Former England and Coventry rugby player dies aged 103

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Media captionMeet England's oldest rugby player

Harry Walker, who was the oldest living former England rugby player, has died at the age of 103.

He made his England debut at Twickenham in 1947, at the age of 32, and earned nine England caps in 1947-8, playing in Five Nations encounters and against Australia.

He played as a prop for Coventry for about 20 years, either side of World War Two.

The club said "the game is all the poorer for his loss".

The Rugby Football Union also paid tribute to the player, known as H, and said he "epitomised post-war England rugby players".

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Image caption Harry Walker played as a prop with the England team between 1947 and 1948

Mr Walker started playing rugby for the West Midlands side at the age of 11 and had continued to be welcomed to regular home games.

He was often at Butts Park Arena where he recalled training in the dark, mud and rain and using fitness equipment consisting of a couple of skipping ropes.

A party was held for him by the club to mark his 103rd birthday in February.

He said at the time: "Coventry has always been me."

Image caption A party was held to mark Mr Walker's birthday in February

Leaving school at 14, he started with John Gulson Old Boys team and earned his living as a machine tool fitter while playing for Coventry RFC.

The club said: "His name was synonymous with Coventry and Warwickshire rugby for his outstanding contribution to the game, both on and off the pitch, over many decades."

Mr Walker had to take time off work to play for England, and buy his own white shorts as Coventry played in blue.

He said the "best" win of his career was playing for the Barbarians in 1948, when they won against an unbeaten Australia team.

Image caption Mr Walker was still a regular at Coventry RFC matches

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