Frank Stout

Photo:Frank Stout

Frank Stout

By Malc King

Frank Stout, a flanker, was described as “one of the most popular rugby footballers Gloucester ever produced” and “one of the greatest forwards who ever represented England” – he was renowned for being both clever and fast, and for improving his play by persistent practice. He was a firm believer in strict training, and few players turned out in a fitter condition.  He was noted as “a clever dribbler, he was very fast with the ball, and always followed up with characteristic dash”. He made 105 appearances for Gloucester between 1895 and 1907, and went on to play for Gloucestershire and England, for whom he won 14 caps.

Frank Moxham Stout was born on 21st February 1877, the youngest member of a distinguished sporting family – his father, William Stout, was a leading amateur oarsman, who won the Diamonds and the Wingfield Sculls, was director of the local Iron and Hardware Company Ltd, and ran an ironmonger’s shop in Westgate Street, Gloucester. Frank was educated at CryptGrammar School, where he played association football.

At the age of 18, in the 1895/6 season, he and his brother, Percy, who was 2 years older, converted to rugby, and they soon started to make a name for themselves in the handling game, playing their first games for Gloucester that season under the captaincy of Charlie Williams. Both went on to play for Gloucestershire and England, but it was Frank who beat his elder brother to an England cap- indeed he played for Gloucestershire in his first season and England in his second, which made him one of the youngest players to be capped by England. In all he represented Gloucestershire on 44 occasions.

Frank was selected to play in ten England trials, appearing nine times for the South against the North, and once for England against the Rest. He first played for England against Wales in 1897, thereby becoming the first current Gloucester player to win an international cap. His brother joined him in the England side the following year.

The following extracts are taken from the Times report on the England v Wales match played at the Rectory Field, Blackheath, on 2nd April 1898, and won by England by one goal and three tries to one goal and one try:

“The game of the Englishmen as a whole revived memories of the good days of Rugby  football before the fallacious four three-quarter system developed a contagion that has threatened to ruin the old forward style..…at threequarter England have rarely possessed a line so strong in defence and attack as that formed by Bunting, Royde, Percy Stout, and Fookes. These men were altogether too skilful for the Welsh threequarter attack, for they possessed both pace and tackling capacity……England scored their first try through Frank Stout, at the end of ten minutes, as the result of a forward rush, and their second came from a splendid piece of running and passing by Livesey, Bunting, and Percy Stout (the actual scorer).”

Four of Percy’s five internationals were played alongside his brother, but Frank went on to play five times against both Scotland and Ireland, and four times against Wales, although this was a poor period for the England side, and he only finished on the winning side twice. He had the honour of captaining England against Wales in 1904. He went on 2 tours – to Australia and New Zealand in 1899 and to South Africa in 1904.

The demands of his profession caused a break of some years in Frank’s playing career, but when he resumed he again rose quickly to the top. After he stopped playing for Gloucester, he joined Richmond (as did his brother), and Frank captained them in one of their most successful seasons.

In the early 1900s, the RFU had been facing mounting criticism of their methods of selection for the national team, which was widely regarded as being very London- and Oxbridge-centric. It was therefore decided that a new approach should be adopted for the 1903/4 season. The first England game was against Wales, and “as the clubs of the West, through their regular intercourse with Welsh football, play practically the Welsh game it has been decided that the first trial match….shall be a bona fide West of England team against the Rest of the South (including Oxford and Cambridge). For the selection of this West of England fifteen a committee of three experts has been appointed consisting of Mr T C Pring, Mr S M J Woods and Mr Frank Stout. In delegating the powers of selection to this body of experts, the Rugby Union Committee are confident that they are conceding chances to West of England rugby football which this district of England has not before enjoyed.”

During the war, Frank served first with the 20th Hussars and then with the Machine Gun Corps; he won the Military Cross, but was badly wounded and remained an invalid for the rest of his life. He joined his brother in Cairo for a while, but returned to England, and died on 30th May 1926 at Storrington, Sussex. 

This page was added by Gary Little on 28/08/2009.

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