Bob Hodge was a number eight or lock who played 257 games for Gloucester between 1948 and 1956, captaining the club in 1952-53. He played for Gloucestershire in the 1948-49 County Championship Final and for Western Counties against the All Blacks in 1953-54. He appeared in three England trials and was an England reserve for all four home internationals in 1952-53. He also played for Fylde and Lancashire.
Robert C “Bob” Hodge was born in the Fylde area of Lancashire in 1923. After the 1939-45 war he joined his local club Fylde RFC and a year later played three times for Lancashire in their championship-winning 1947-48 side before losing his place to England international Joe Mycock.
He moved south in the summer and joined Gloucester RFC at the start of the 1948-49 season, making his debut against Lydney on September 11 after a good performance for the United against Bream the previous week. Rupert Cherry, writing in the Citizen, said “Hodge, Gloucester’s new second row forward, has shown himself to be a class player in his first two matches.”
Bob Hodge soon switched to number eight, where he was to become a fixture for Gloucester for the next eight seasons. He made his Gloucestershire debut at number eight on November 13 at Exeter and played for the county at number eight or lock through the rest of the season, appearing at lock in the County Championship Final against Lancashire on his old club ground Blundellsands on March 12, 1949.
Hodge missed most of the second half of the 1949-50 season with a wrist injury. Although he couldn’t get back in to the county team, he appeared in 85 of the 90 games played by Gloucester in 1950-51 and 1951-52 and earned himself reserve cards for two England trials.
Bob Hodge was made Gloucester captain for the 1952-53 season. Playing better than ever, he regained his county place and was selected for the Possibles against the Probables in the first England trial at Exeter. The Citizen said “Hodge gave a splendid performance and was in the forefront of many thrilling rushes. In addition he did valuable work in the line-outs and in checking the Probables’ half backs.” He went on to play for The Rest against England in the final trial and was a reserve for all four Home Internationals (travelling to Cardiff and Dublin). In March he was chosen to play for the Barbarians against East Midlands, but had to drop out due to injury.
Another successful season followed. Hodge kept his county place and played for Western Counties against the All Blacks at Bristol in November. He played for the Probables in a convincing win over the Possibles in the first England trial at Nottingham, but still could not find a way into the England side.
In 1954-55, the durable Hodge now aged 32, played in 40 of the 41 games played by Gloucester that season. He kept his place at the start of the following season and had played regularly until January 1956 when the club, following a number of disappointing results, opted to experiment with either prop George Hastings or lock Brian Green at number eight. He spent the remainder of the season playing for Gloucester United and then retired.