World Rugby Hall of Fame – Induction No.102 – William Wavell Wakefield, also known as Baron Wakefield of Kendal (England, Harlequins, Cambridge University) 1898-1983
One of 25 legends inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame at Wembley Stadium, London, on 20 September, 2015.
Born: 10 March, 1898 in Beckenham, England
Died: 12 August, 1983 in Kendal
More than any other player, Wakefield exemplified the successful England team of the 1920s. One of the standout players of his generation, Wakefield made his England debut in 1920 and was awarded 31 caps over the next seven years. As captain, he led England to back-to-back Grand Slams in 1923 and 1924.
His impact on the game of rugby union was felt far further afield than Twickenham though. Wakefield’s athleticism and pace enabled him to reinvent the role of a back-row forward from a static player to one that harried the opposition in defence and acted as a link man in attack.
Wakefield also captained Cambridge University, served in the Royal Air Force towards the end of World War One, and was a stalwart of the Harlequins club until his retirement in 1930.
Following his playing career, Wakefield served as a Conservative MP and was active in rugby administration, becoming president of the Rugby Football Union in 1950-51. He held the same position with Harlequins from 1950 to 1980 and was also a long-serving member of the International Rugby Board. He was knighted in 1944 and later, in 1963, was elevated to the peerage as Baron Wakefield of Kendal.