B.C. Gadney

B.C. Gadney (1909-2000). Headmaster of Malsis 1938-1962. Educated at the Dragon School, Oxford and Stowe, where he shared a room with the actor David Niven.

He began the move that culminated in Obolensky's great try against the All Blacks in 1936.  He was an outstanding scrum half for England in the 1930's, winning 14 international caps and captaining the side eight times.  Under him, England won the Triple Crown in 1934 and beat New Zealand for the first time in 1936.  Much of Gadney's authority on the field came from his height of 6ft 2 inches.  He was a ferocious tackler and an early proponent of the reverse pass.

 He started teaching at Winchester House School, Brackley and played for Leicester Tigers from 1929.  He played 170 games for them, scoring 63 tries and 189 points when a try was worth only three points.  His debut for England was against Ireland in 1932.  He also captained the Barbarians and led a successful British Lions tour to Argentina when all ten games were won with Obolensky scoring 17 tries.

When he became the Malsis Headmaster he continued his playing career with Headingley, then based at Kirkstall.  It was due to leading Headingley players of the time that he took up the Headship, but of course the club did not benefit greatly as he volunteered as an able seaman in the Navy.  He was later commissioned and took a landing craft across the Channel shortly after D Day carrying over armaments and returning with German POW's. Before he left Yorkshire for war service he was courted by a number of rugby league clubs, but he preferred to remain an amateur.  Many international players, particularly the half back combination of Dennis Shuttleworth and Mike Hardy, came to  Malsis to  benefit from his coaching.  The boys learned that their headmaster was the only player who could "kill" with a reverse pass.

 In 1938 there were 12 boys at Malsis.  When BCG retired in 1963 there were over 150, all boarding.  In addition the magnificent new Chapel, Theatre, Gym and Swimming Pool were nearing completion.  In retirement in Aldeburgh he played golf.  He was the first name on the Museum of Rugby's"Wall of Fame" at Twickenham together with Nick Farr Jones.

In his last years, his elder son Reg took him to Twickenham-the RFU had sent a car-  because Johnny Wilkinson, Matt Dawson and other leading players had asked to meet him.  When meeting Wilkinson, BCG said he thought that he executed his drop kicks too fast.  He told him to count 1234. 1 you receive, 2 look at the goal posts, 3 drop the ball, 4 kick.  Bernard demonstrated this and kicked a goal in his light shoes.  Sadly he did not live to see that famous drop goal in 2003.

Two stories about him deserve repetition.  In 1946-47, he invited the German POW Hans Frieze, who was working on the school grounds, to sit with his family for Christmas lunch.  Some of the staff had not fraternised with him, so it was a most generous act.  Hans had survived the Siege of Leningrad and escaped the Russians by walking across Europe to surrender to the British.  He had lost three fingers on his right hand from frostbite.

The second concerns a visitor to Malsis in the summer of 1961.  The school was on half term, but one or two boys who lived abroad were practising in the cricket nets.  From the study BCG could see a tall man wearing a hat and a brown overcoat walking to the nets.  He followed him, saw him take off his hat and coat and ask one of the boys to bowl to him.  He was left-handed and played a stroke of quite exquisite grace.  Soon after this, he bowled a perfect left arm fast medium ball.

BCG approached the man and said " You seem to have done this before", to which the man replied "Yes; I saw the boys from the road so I parked my car and came over to take a look".  "Please  carry on" said BCG "may I ask what you are doing in these parts?"  "Playing in the Lancashire League" he said...

" I don't suppose you'd think of teaching  here?"

"Unfortunately my contract would not allow that".

 "Well, if you have second thoughts, here's my phone number, please keep in touch.  My name's Bernard Gadney.  What's yours?"

 "Garfield Sobers" (later knighted of course).

B.C. Gadney on Wikipedia