Coates Vincent MC

by Geoff Pillinger/Mike Curling
Player Vincent Coates

Vincent H S Middleton Coates

Position: Wing

Born: Bridgwater

Height:  5ft. 10ins

Weight: 13st. 7lb

Education: Monkton Combe School Bath, Caius College, Cambridge.


Honours:  Cambridge Blue, England (5 caps) , Captain of Somerset County XV from 1911 to 1913 making 20 appearances. Barbarian 1909-10 season.

Debut game: 14th January 1911 v Neath

Final game: 26th December 1919 v Glasgow University

Number of Appearances: 54

Career details: Also played for Bridgwater & Albion RFC.

There was widespread satisfaction at the selection of Vincent Coates for England v South Africa, at Twickenham on January 4th 1913 which South Africa won 9pts to 3 pts.

England Team:-

W R Johnston             Bristol

C N Lowe                    Cambridge University


F M Stoop                  Harlequins

R W Poulton              Harlequins

V H M Coates            Bath

W I Cheesman          Old Merchant Taylors

W J A Davies             Royal Naval College

Lieut. N A Wodehouse     United Services

J A King                    Headingley

C H Pillman            Blackheath

J E Greenwood      Cambridge University

L G Brown             Oxford University

A L Kewney           Rockliff

S Smart                Gloucester

J A S Ritson           Northern

A London paper reported, that the South Africans rated Coates as the best wing three-quarter of the many who had played against them.

On the 18th January 1913 V H M Coates played on the wing, in the first England team to beat Wales in Cardiff. (12-0)

One of the sons of Dr Coates who moved to Bath from Bridgwater in 1910. First educated at Monkton Combe School, Bath, he had the singular distinction of playing for the Senior School XV whist still a Junior, and was awarded his School Cap in 1904, at age15. He then moved on to captain Haileybury, entered Caius College,Cambridge and gained his Light Blue as a Fresher, when 18. He first played for Bridgwater when on vacation, and was selected for Somerset County XV at 17 years of age. He and brother Norman finally joined Bath, when his father, Dr. Coates, moved into Hopecote in Church Road, Combe Down.

In his prime, Vincent weighed 13st. 7lb., and his height was 5ft. 10ins.

With his brother Norman at Centre they formed perhaps the finest threequarter combination the Bath Club has known. The brothers had a perfect understanding. Norman creating the openings so that very often Vincent had only the fullback to beat, and his terrific hand-off made him the bugbear of his opponents

The story is told by W J A Davies that during an England v Wales match, Vincent received a pass and went flying down field with one arm determinedly poised, past the fullback and round behind the posts without a hand being laid upon him. The irate Welsh captain asked the fullback “Why didn’t you stop him?”. “Stop him?” said the fullback, “Why it took me all the time to get out of his way”. The poor chap was already nursing a bruised jaw from a previous attempt to tackle Coates.

Victor scored 3 tries and on one run, so it was said, left three opponents stretched out on the ground when he crossed the goal line.

He played regularly for Somerset and was captain from 1911 to 1913. That same year he played 5 games for England including South Africa, forging a place for himself with the immortals. He was a great sportsman who enjoyed his rugby and also the social atmosphere after the game, joining in the fun with the utmost zest.

Unfortunately War service in the R.A.M.C. cut short his playing career, but he was to distinguish himself in France, showing great bravery under enemy fire in October 1916. He continued to operate on the wounded, despite his orderly being shot. His gallantry resulted in award of the Military Cross. After settling into post war medical practice, he later became Senior Physician to the Royal Mineral Water Hospital, Bath. Sadly he died in 1934 at just 45, but in that short span had been successful and influential in whatever area he had chosen to grace.

“Coates made his great name as a powerful runner carrying a hand-off comparable with Maclear’s in the course of five matches in one season. A more formidable meteor never shot through the Rugby sky into that strange never-never land known as memory.” [THE HISTORY OF THE RUGBY FOOTBALL UNION by O.L.OWEN {1955}]




This page was added on 13/10/2014.

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