Celebrating Ex-Wellington School Headmaster John Kendall-Carpenter – Mastermind of the Rugby World Cup

13 Oct 2015

At this exciting time in the Rugby World Cup, we can recall a former Headmaster of Wellington School who masterminded the contest. It is also the 90th anniversary of the birth of Former England Captain, John Kendall-Carpenter.

John MacGregor Kendall-Carpenter Headmaster 1973 – 1990 was an England Rugby Union International who won 23 caps between 1949 and 1954.

He subsequently served as President of the Rugby Football Union (1980–1981), the England Schools Rugby Football Union (1985–90) and Cornwall (1984–87). He was also Chairman of the committee that organised the first Rugby World Cup in 1987.

He was one of only five Cornishmen to captain the England Rugby team. On 24 October 2011, at the IRB Awards ceremony in Auckland, Kendall-Carpenter was posthumously recognised for his role in the creation of the Rugby World Cup with induction into the IRB Hall of Fame.

Just before the start of the tournament, John Kendall-Carpenter, rang one of the initial instigators of the World Cup, Nick Shehadie, President of the Australian Rugby Union to say, ”We haven’t got a trophy”. Kendall-Carpenter paid the Royal jewellers Garrards £6,000 for a silver gilt trophy – named The Webb Ellis Cup after the Rugby School pupil who is credited with creating the game of Rugby.

A charitable fund established in his name makes grants to young sports people in Cornwall, but his true memorial will be on show at Twickenham on 31st October when the final of the tournament he helped create is played for the trophy he purchased and named.

He also headed the organisation of the second World Cup, hosted by England but spread across all Five Nations in 1991, but did not live to see it happen, dying suddenly in May 1990.


Photo:  Kendall-Carpenter was instrumental in the organisation of the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987 but died three years later