My first chance of driving a bus came on the Easter tour of 1961 Baa Baas V Cardiff. After the match we were all in the bus waiting for the driver to drive back to Penarth. I was the last one in. Having an inquisitive mind, I got up into the driver's seat "fiddled about" with the controls - started it up - shouts came from the back - "Lets go for a drive Dave" so off we went, up the main street, luckily there was a big round about at the top - and back to where we started.
My next chance came in South Africa on the 1962 Lions tour. I had one or two supervised lessons with the official coach driver. My last chance before being caught out was the 1964 Baa Baas v Canada, County Ground Gosforth Saturday 17th Nov. After the game, filthy cold wet day 3-3, we had all gone back to the Hotel at Whitley Bay to change for the dinner - Gosforth.
The team and officials (Hughie, Herbert and Luckie) KJF Scotland, AR Smith, MS Phillips, MP Weston, JM Dee, RAW Sharp, JAY Rodd, DWD Rollo, Sam Hodgeson, CR Jacobs (Capt), MJ Campbell-Lammerton, B Price, DC Manly, D Colley, PGD Robbins. We all got into the bus, ready to take off, no driver - "Prince" you drive. Off we went - at roundabout had to stop and ask which road to take.
Given right directions by a Policeman we headed towards Gosforth - next thing a flashing blue light appears - "Police Car" - stop bus quickly get out of driver's seat and into passenger's seat. Police come onto bus, there was no driver - "Who was driving?", no answer. The bus had been reported stolen. No-one spoke. You will all have to come down with me to the Police station. At this point I got up and admitted I was the driver. Micky (Hon Sec) and I were taken to the Police Station (missed dinner) I was charged with taking the bus without consent. By this time Baa Baas officials Hughie and Herbert had set the ball rolling, trying to get the offence squashed.
Lawrie Edwards, chairman of Gosforth and top advocate reckoned that if I made a personal appearance in court (which was a few weeks later), He would be able to get me off lightly. He didn't. To cut a long story short. I was fined £65 and disqualified for 6 months. PS - When leaving the bus with Police, Ron 'Badger' Jacobs and other Baa Baas shouted "Dave we will help pay the fine" never heard anymore!!! With inflation 28 years - I reckon £850 to be collected for Baa Baa's funds.
I played my first game for the Barbarian football club at Leicester some thirty years ago, against a Leicester team which included Tony O'ReiIIy, Phil Horrocks-Taylor and those stalwarts David Matthews and Chalky White .It was a great thrill for me as an Oxford Freshman to be selected and I remember well the excitement of the long journey from my home in Redruth, Cornwall just after Christmas. It was the beginning of a happy association with the Baa-Baas for which I shall always be gratefuI. Apart from the traditional Easter tour of South Wales, there were also memorable matches against the 1961 Springboks, the 1962 Canadians and the 1964 All Blacks.
The memory I would like to share on this occasion is of the Easter tour of South Wales in 1962, just before the Lions tour. As a young rugby fanatic, I had always believed that rugby was a religion in Wales but I learnt something different that Easter. On the Good Friday we played against Penarth in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd.
On Easter Sunday my wife Esther and I went to the morning service in the magnificent Liandaff Cathedral. The Bishop himself gave the sermon and, to our dismay, launched an attack on sportsmen who played matches on Good Friday! He finished his tirade with the following words which we shall never forget: "Barbarians by name, barbarians by nature!" Suitably chastened we went to Swansea on Easter Monday and had the last laugh, beating them by 13 points to 9. It is impossible to please all of the people all of the time!