Scottish rugby international
Saturday 23 December 2006
John Adrian Tremayne Rodd, rugby player: born 28 June 1935; capped 14 times for Scotland 1958-65; succeeded 1978 as third Baron Rennell; married 1977 Phyllis Neill (one son, three daughters); died London 9 December 2006.
The strong competitive streak that ran through Tremayne Rodd was not confined to the rugby field, on which he won 14 caps for Scotland and played for the Barbarians. The future Lord Rennell was equally combative around the backgammon table and on the golf course.
First capped for Scotland in the 11-9 win over France at Murrayfield in 1958, he had an international career that stretched over seven years as he kept battling his way back into the side. An ever-present in the five Tests played in 1958 - he was on the winning side against Australia and in the team that drew with England in the Calcutta Cup match in Edinburgh - he missed the 1959 campaign and played in the opening two defeats in the 1960 championship.
He was missing for the 1960/61 season and played in the opening game of the 1962 championship against France. Stan Coughtrie overtook him again in 1963 before he returned triumphantly the next season. After playing in the opening success over the French at Murrayfield he helped Scotland draw 0-0 with the touring All Blacks. He then lost his place again, this time to Alex Hastie, after a narrow defeat in Cardiff to Wales. There were three more appearances in 1965, all of which were on losing sides, before his Test career came to an end. By then he was 30, but a long way off from hanging up his boots.
In fact, his last-known appearance on a rugby field was in 1993, at the ripe old age of 58, when he appeared for a House of Lords and Commonwealth Officers XV against a South African President's XV in Cape Town.
"Tremayne was fiercely competitive and always liked to keep himself in shape. He was a very good scrum half when I played with him for London Scottish and Scotland who had a quick pass and a lightning break," recalled Iain Laughland, the former Scottish Rugby Union President:
He was a great character to have in your side and always raised a smile. I remember going to see him play for a House of Lords team against a Scottish Bankers XV on the morning of an international in Edinburgh. He was well into his fifties at the time and came over to me just before kick-off and asked me to look after his false teeth. I eventually put them in a plastic bag and left them at the corner flag.
Rodd learned his rugby at Downside and Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, before following his father, Commander Gustaf Rodd, into the Navy. He played for the Navy and United Services while serving and was in the Combined Services XV that met the Wallabies in 1957 and the Springboks in 1961. In 1958 he was home fleet boxing champion.
"When he left the Navy he went into investment banking at Morgan Grenfell, but simply hated it. His uncle was the chairman and I told him to stick with it, but he quit after nine months," Laughland said. "In the end he became the director of a sports trophies company in King's Cross."
A strong golfer who used to play against Sam Torrance at Sunningdale, Rodd was an expert backgammon player who competed at the world championships. One Christmas, before he succeeded his uncle as third Baron Rennell in 1978, he set up a table in a window at Selfridges in London where he challenged all-comers to play him.
He met his wife, Phyllis Neill, in a queue at an airport as he was returning from Italy after his father's funeral. He allegedly asked her to hold a bag for him while he went to the lavatory. The bag contained the urn in which his late father's ashes had been placed.
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