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| 18/07/2022



Bridgwater & Albion RFC players and members from the mid-1950’s onwards will remember the considerable contribution to the club’s fortunes on the rugby football field when Bobby Collard first paraded his silky skills in the 1953/4 season at the age of 17 – almost immediately making his Somerset debut against British Police at the age of 17½.  Bobby Collard was locally born and attended Dr Morgan’s School where his absolute contemporary was another of Albion’s favoured, highly skilled entertainers – Colin (CF) Ball.  Both made their debuts in the same season and went on to play for Somerset County RFU.  They were also very talented cricketers and were both offered contracts with Somerset County Cricket Club along with Brian Langford (also from Dr Morgan’s) but only the latter took up the offer and excelled for a long period with the County Cricket side.

Bobby paraded his skills from stand-off and in the centre.  His hallmark was his handling ability and timing of the pass which released his fellow team mates to some advantage.

National Service with the RAF beckoned in 1955/56 which restricted Bobby’s appearances for Bridgwater & Albion.  On completing his National Service he enrolled at St Luke’s College, Exeter where he played in the 1st XV for the three seasons 1957/8 to 1959/60 – being captain in his last year.  He played for Bridgwater during vacation periods.  Also in 1959/60 he made an appearance for London Welsh 1st XV.  In pursuit of a teaching career, then Bobby moved to the Wirral where he assisted Old Birkonians RFC but he was back with his local club for the 1960/61 season during which he represented Western Counties against South Africa at Kingsholm in December 1960 in company with team mate Dave Hodge.  Bobby was also appearing regularly for the Somerset County side and in all made 21 appearances between 1953/4 and 1965/6.  In 1963/4 he again represented Western Counties against New Zealand at Bristol and this time in company with team mate John Lewis who secured a sensational try after 40 seconds in a 14-22 defeat against the All Blacks – a game attended by many local fans and some very excited schoolboys from Dr Morgan’s watching their local heroes.

Bobby’s return to teaching locally at Sydenham Junior School coincided with his appointment as captain of Bridgwater & Albion for the 1967/8 season.  Albion endured a season of 50 games which remarkably included 23 wins and 23 defeats and 4 draws.  This season also saw Bob retire from the game at the age of 32 after 14 seasons playing 1st team rugby football.  He finished the season early to take up an intensive French course in Paris.

Bobby continued his teaching career in the Bridgwater area and was latterly long-time Headmaster at North Petherton Primary School.  Throughout his career he introduced many youngsters to rugby football, cricket and other recreations to their considerable enjoyment and benefit.

Albion’s current President Mike Berry was also a part-contemporary during Bobby’s career and comments – “it was a pleasure playing with Bobby at half-back as he was a real tactician with great hands and good feet.  He liked a long ball from the set pieces which certainly stretched my service but the benefits were used well by the players outside of us at half-back.  Two appearances for Western Counties show his pedigree.  I recall watching the New Zealand game at Bristol during which Bob was subjected to some considerably robust play from the first of the crash ball centres which tended to dominate the game thereafter.  He stood the test manfully and put the experience to good use later.  He was an excellent team mate and a great stalwart of the club and looked in on us for many years after his retirement”.

Bridgwater & Albion sends its sincere condolences to Carol and her family with thanks for a considerably blessed rugby football career and life in general.


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