Peter Kininmonth

Former Scottish rugby captain
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The Independent Online

Peter Wyatt Kininmonth, rugby player and businessman: born Bebington, Cheshire 23 June 1924; married 1951 Priscilla Sturge (two sons, two daughters); died Ashmore, Dorset 5 October 2007.

Peter Kininmonth went from being a non-tackling, third XV rugby player at Sedbergh School to captain of Scotland and a British Lions Test player. Such a startling transformation was testament to the determination and drive he displayed throughout his life and which made him such a success on the sporting field and in his business life.

Born in Bebington, Cheshire, to Scottish parents, in 1924, he joined the Indian Army immediately after leaving school in 1942 and was posted to Bangalore where he joined the 3rd Gurkha Rifles in Dehra Dun. In 1944, he was posted to the 2nd Battalion in Italy, where he fought against the Germans at Assisi, Arno Valley and near San Marino.

In the spring of 1947 he was in the North-West Frontier in action against the Afghan tribesmen before returning to England to read History at Brasenose College, Oxford. His mother, one of the first female graduates of Liverpool University, did not want the war to ruin his education and had badgered the authorities at Oxford University to accept her son on his return from active service.

He was 23 when he went up to Oxford and was quickly encouraged to take up rugby again. By this time he had learned how to tackle and he turned into a brave and intelligent back-row forward who was good enough to win two Blues and tour Argentina with them, where he met Eva Peron.

He joined Richmond Football Club after leaving university, a club which at the time were considered to be everyone's whipping boys. His reason for choosing Richmond was that he believed he would get recognised more easily in a poor side. How right he was, although Richmond improved considerably during his time with them.

By 1949 he had forced his way into the Scottish side and celebrated by scoring a try in the 8-0 victory over the French at Stade Colombes in Paris on 15 January – Scotland's first win in the French capital in 21 years. He joined the Australian-born Doug Keller and Doug Elliott in the back row, forming a 20-cap partnership with Elliott during his 21-Test career.

He also tasted victory on his first outing at Murrayfield, as Wales were beaten 6-5 three weeks later, but the remaining games in the championship were lost. The following season he captained Scotland for the first of eight occasions and led his team to a notable Calcutta Cup victory over England in Edinburgh.

That 13-11 triumph was the catalyst for him to become one of only five Scots selected to tour New Zealand and Australia with the 1950 British Lions. He played in 16 of the 30 tour matches and won three Test caps in the four internationals in New Zealand.

"Peter was a great tourist who really made his mark on all of us," recalled the Test skipper Bleddyn Williams. The next time Williams and his fellow Welsh tourists met up with Kininmonth was at Murrayfield in the 1951 Five Nations' Championship. The Welsh were Grand Slam champions from 1950, had run in five tries in a 23-5 hammering of England in their opening game and looked set to sweep aside Kininmonth's men.

But, in front of 80,000 fans, the Scots harassed and harried a Welsh side containing 11 of the 1950 Lions tour party to complete distraction. The home side led 3-0 at the break before Kininmonth struck with one of the most famous drop goals in the history of the Five Nations.

Gathering a clearance kick in front of the grandstand beyond the Wales 25, he struck his kick perfectly to double his side's lead. In so doing, he became only the fourth Scottish forward to drop a goal in 209 internationals, and the first since J.D. Boswell against England in 1893.

Scotland won 19-0 in the end, running in three late tries, to inflict the heaviest defeat on a Welsh team in 26 years, 19-0. It was a victory described as the most famous "David and Goliath" act in the history of the game.

That was to be his last victory in a Scottish jersey as his next 11 appearances all ended in defeat, as Scottish fortunes took a downturn, and they lost 17 games in a row between 1951-55. Kininmonth's last appearance was against Wales in Swansea on 10 April 1954.

The return boat journey from the Lions tour in 1950 had provided an unexpected bonus for Kininmonth when he met Priscilla Sturge on board. They were married the following year.

He launched his business career in the City with the Lloyd's insurance brokers Thom Stephens, Pool in 1951. In 1971, he established the subsidiary of Keith Shipton, Kininmonth. When Shiptons was sold to Bowrings he set up on his own – P.W. Kininmonth Ltd – which he sold to Lowndes Lambert in 1985 and became Deputy Chairman until retirement in 1995.

Kininmonth was High Sheriff of Greater London in 1979/80, chairman of the Richmond Fellowship, one of the biggest providers of mental health care in Britain, a patron of the Glyndebourne Opera Festival and chairman of the highly successful Lloyd's 1992 British Olympic Appeal.

Rob Cole