Peter Jackson

Swift and adventurous try-scorer for England
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The Independent Online

Whenever people ask what was the most famous try scored at Twickenham there are usually two main candidates - Prince Alexander Obolensky for his cross-field run against New Zealand in 1936 and Peter Jackson's sensational last-minute match winner in the fog against Australia in 1958.



Peter Barrie Jackson, rugby player: born Birmingham 22 September 1929; married (two sons); died Solihull, West Midlands 22 March 2004.



Whenever people ask what was the most famous try scored at Twickenham there are usually two main candidates - Prince Alexander Obolensky for his cross-field run against New Zealand in 1936 and Peter Jackson's sensational last-minute match winner in the fog against Australia in 1958.

Jackson, a product of King Edward VI School, Birmingham, ranks among the greatest rugby wings ever produced by England, although he was moved out to the extremes of the three-quarter line because of his adventurous spirit. By his own admission, his feet used to move faster than his brain.

"I started as an outside-half, but I was too selfish and wanted to run through the whole side," Jackson said:

They put me out on to the wing, and I still had the same idea when put in possession - that I must get to the line and beat the opposition on the way. My feeling towards the game at all times has been to keep the ball in play and run with it rather than kick it out of play.

That philosophy made him one of the most potent attacking forces in the world game and led him to score six tries in 20 Tests for his country and a remarkable 19 tries for the British and Irish Lions on their tour to Australia and New Zealand in 1959.

In the first game of the New Zealand leg of that 1959 trip, against Hawke's Bay in Napier, he became an instant hit with the rugby-loving public when he scored a try with an amazing zigzag run that forced almost every player in each team to stand still as he crossed from one side of the field to the other.

He immediately became a marked man by the All Blacks, although he was still able to skip away from even their blanket-like defence to score tries in the first and fourth Tests against them. Twice he scored four tries in a match against New Zealand provincial sides.

If it was hard for the opposition to keep him in check, he bemused his own players with his meandering forays into uncharted territory, often ending up in the thick of the forwards and suffering as a result. If you got hold of Jackson, you had to make the most of the moment and many times he suffered nasty knocks. When hurt, he would often cross his arms as he lay prostrate on the ground, urging his Lions wing partner Tony O'Reilly to describe the posture as the embodiment of Lenin's tomb. When O'Reilly discovered Jackson sleeping with his eyes open early on the tour, he nicknamed him "Nicolai the Russian Spy".

Peter Jackson was born in Birmingham in 1929 and, having learned to play rugby at school, he joined the Five Ways Old Edwardians club. He moved to Coventry when he was 24 and didn't win his first cap until he was 27. He soon made up for lost time, though, scoring a try against the Irish at Twickenham in his second game for England in 1956 before scoring three of his side's seven tries in the Grand Slam season of 1957.

Having won 15 of his 20 Test caps between 1956-59, he played in only one of the next 13 internationals in the next three seasons before returning at the age of 34 to play in all four championship matches in the unbeaten season of 1963. As well as playing for Coventry, and captaining them between 1960-62, Jackson also played for the Army and for Aldershot Services during his National Service. He was also one of the mainstays of the Warwickshire XV that won the County Championship seven times in eight seasons between 1958-65, skippering them on three occasions and scoring in three finals, and he also played for the North Midlands.

His links with rugby lasted long after he hung up his boots, as he became fixture secretary, secretary and finally president of Coventry, president of Warwickshire and secretary of the National Clubs Association.

Yet, for all he achieved in rugby, and there was only one glaring omission in that he was scandalously overlooked by the Barbarians, he will for ever be remembered for his try that beat the Wallabies at Twickenham in 1958. England, reduced to 14 men through injury to the fly-half Phil Horrocks-Taylor, had fought back to level the scores at 6-6. The home side won a line-out on the Wallabies 25 and spread the ball down the back line in Jackson's direction, hoping for one last-gasp moment of inspiration.

By the time the ball reached Jackson, he was hemmed in on the right-hand touchline and had two defenders ahead of him. "I threw wing Rod Phelps off balance then straightened up as I came to full-back Terry Curley," recalled Jackson:

My natural instinct was to side-step inside him, but he broadcast his intention of anticipating it and consequently I went the other way. I didn't realise that Phelps had recovered but, with Curley evaded and the line so close, I had to dive as Phelps tackled me. I had one vivid recollection of losing every vestige of breath in my lungs with a terrific whoosh as I dived over.

I did not look too happy and indeed, one spectator told me that, if he had scored, he would have jumped for joy. I had not the heart to tell him that I felt like death warmed up!

Having started life as a trainee in a chocolate company, Jackson went on to become managing director of an export packing company.

Robert Cole

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