Peter Robbins, who later played for both Coventry and Moseley, made his international debut, while still a student at Oxford University, on 21st January 1956 against Wales at Twickenham. Robbins was one of ten England debutants and alongside him were Warwickshire and England cricketer M.J.K. Smith, who was winning his only cap, and Coventry players D.F. Allison at fullback and Peter Jackson on the wing.
Spread between the two teams were ten members of the 1955 British Isles side that had shared the Test series with South Africa. The competing halfback combinations were interesting in that Cliff Morgan and Dickie Jeeps who had played together for the Lions were now in opposition as were the Oxford University halfbacks M.J.K. Smith and Onllwyn Brace.
Cliff Morgan had some interesting observations of the new England wing-forward saying ‘I’ll swear, if asked in private, that Peter Robbins was born offside’ and ‘In a more generous mood I would simply say that he crossed on amber!’ Morgan also observed that ‘Robbins had few peers and as someone once said, playing against Robbins was as uncomfortable as drinking a Dry Martini in front of Billy Graham.’
The England pack, including Robbins in the back row, held a distinct advantage over the Welsh in both the tight and the loose while the Welsh backs were often forced into error by the slippery nature of the field. Unfortunately for England the play of their midfield was inept which prevented them from taking advantage of this situation.
England had the better of the early exchanges but against the run of play Welsh forward R.J. Robins scored a breakaway try in the tenth minute that was converted by full back G.D. Owen.
The home side stormed back into the match and Wales were lucky, on several occasions not to concede a score. One of these opportunities was a good run from Coventry and Old Edwardian wing Peter Jackson that ended in a penalty to Wales following an infringement at the tackle.
In the second half Coventry fullback D.F. Allison kicked a penalty goal and with the English forwards winning the majority of possession in both the tight and the loose it seemed only a matter of time before the backs would create a scoring opportunity.
However, fate had other ideas and following a charge down of a drop goal attempt by M.J.K. Smith Wales wing C.L. Davies scored another try for Wales. England had further chances as the match neared no side but more mistakes in midfield and missed penalty attempts by Allison resulted in Wales winning the match by eight points to three.
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