The Shortest International Careers Ever? 

Of the players who have appeared in more than a single international match two of the shortest, if not the shortest, international careers must be those of Moseley forward J.G. Cooper and Old Edwardian centre E.W. Assinder.


On 9th January 1909 England played the touring Australians at Rectory Field, Blackheath and Cooper and Assinder were two of an incredible ten new caps in the home side. Also among the debutants was the famous Northampton wing Edgar Mobbs.


These First Wallabies lacked some of the glamour of the pioneering tourists from New Zealand and South Africa and prior to this match they had already been defeated by four Welsh sides and by the Midland Counties.


This was the last international match to be staged at Blackheath and in an explosive start England scored a try after three minutes following a quick scrum feed and some good work by the three quarters. Less than five minutes into his international career Cooper was entrusted with the conversion attempt and not surprisingly perhaps his kick failed.


Before half time some careless defence by England allowed the Australians to score a try and the game was thus tied at the change of ends. The home defenders were again exposed in the second half when the Wallaby wing Russell kicked ahead and scored a simple try.


Five minutes from no side the England scrum half, R. Williamson, left the field after a blow to the head and while the home side were rearranging themselves Russell scored again. When time was called the final score was three tries (9 points) to one try (three points) in the Australians’ favour.


England’s next international match was one week later when they travelled to Cardiff Arms Park to play Wales. Cooper and Assinder were both retained in a side that showed seven changes and included four new caps in the forwards.


The visiting pack gave an impressive performance and prevented Wales from playing their usual game of holding the scrum and heeling the ball out to their backs. Cooper was particularly prominent in the role of wing-forward from where he helped to upset the rhythm of the Welsh halfbacks.


Because of the spoiling tactics of the England pack the Welsh backs were hindered but the visiting three quarters were unimaginative and predictable and their side was unable to take advantage of their forwards’ efforts. As a result the match was a disappointing spectacle.


Wales scored two first half tries and one in the second period to run out winners by one goal and one try (eight points) to nil. This win extended Wales’s run of success over the other Home Nations to 15 games.


Neither Assinder nor Cooper ever played for England again and so their international careers were over in the space of seven short days.