Peter Buxton was born on the 21st August 1978 – the same year as Gloucester’s second domestic knock-out cup triumph – in Cheltenham and attended Cleeve School. He represented Cheltenham RFC at junior level before heading to Australia for eight months when he’d completed his education to play for Brothers RFC in Queensland. During his time there he lined up alongside an up and coming fly-half called Elton Flatley who would go on to play against England in the 2003 rugby world cup final. Upon his return to these shores Buxton joined Moseley, only to break his leg in his first training session with the Midlands club. Having recovered from this setback he demonstrated great strength of character to become a permanent fixture in the Moseley 1st XV. A string of impressive performances earned him a call-up to the England squad for the Under 21 World Cup in Argentina.
By now Buxton was earning himself a reputation as a powerful forward who was as adept in the back-row as he was in the second-row – a skill-set that had already helped him win the 1998 Middlesex 7’s with the Barbarians -and it wasn’t long before a top flight club acquired his services. His opportunity to play professional club rugby arrived when he signed for Welsh side Newport who had qualified to compete in the Heineken Cup. This exposure to competing against Europe’s rugby elite provided him with the platform to gain selection for the England A squad, before securing a dream move to Gloucester, his home town club – not to mention further Barbarian honours against Combined Services in 2001. It was 2002 and newly-appointed head coach Nigel Melville was attempting to assemble a squad that could herald a new era at Kingsholm, by bringing some long overdue silverware to the club. Buxton signed a three-year deal and in doing so became the former Wasps coach’s first major recruit since taking up the reins at Gloucester.
With results on the pitch much improved the Cherry and Whites were now in a position to challenge for major domestic honours. Having missed out on the 2003 Powergen Cup final triumph – last won by the club in 1982 when it was known as the John Player Cup – Buxton helped Gloucester to finish 15 points clear at the top of the Zurich Premiership table for the first time in their history. The club’s reward was an automatic place in the inaugural Premiership final to decide who would be champions of England. Unfortunately for Gloucester, they became victims of their own success. A three week break lay ahead for the table-toppers, whereas Wasps were required to defeat Northampton in a semi-final play-off for the honour of challenging for the title. Consequently an undercooked Gloucester side that included Peter Buxton as a replacement arrived at HQ hoping to maintain their impressive form. Unfortunately, their lack of competitive action in the build-up to the final told and despite coming off the bench for Junior Paramore, Buxton could do nothing to prevent an emphatic 39-3 defeat.
The 2003-2004 season saw him start the 44-35 Zurich Premiership wild-card semi-final victory over Sale at Kingsholm. The wild-card competition was contested by the teams placed fourth to seventh in the final Premiership table and despite beating Sale, Gloucester forfeited their spot in the final after English teams were awarded an additional Heineken Cup qualification place due to London Wasps winning the 2003-2004 competition. This went to Gloucester as the next highest placed team in the league not automatically qualified for Europe. One of the highlights of Buxton’s career came at the end of the same season, when he was rewarded for his impressive form by being selected in the England squad to take on the Barbarians at Twickenham – starting the game on the replacements bench.
The following season Gloucester once again qualified for the Zurich Premiership wild-card final. With no Heineken Cup lifeline available this time round, they made the journey to South West London to face Saracens in what was effectively a European qualification play-off at Twickenham. Buxton started the game but Gloucester had to settle for a place in the 2005-2006 European Challenge Cup, following a 24-6 defeat to the London club. Disappointment turned to celebration a few months later when Buxton captained Gloucester to their first piece of European silverware – beating London Irish 36-24 after extra time in the final at the Twickenham Stoop.
Gloucester maintained their form into the 2006-2007 Guinness Premiership season, topping the table by virtue of number of games won having finished the season on the same number of points as Leicester Tigers. It was the Midlands club who awaited Gloucester in the final but the day ended badly for Buxton in more ways than one, despite being named stand-in captain for the day. Not only were Gloucester emphatically beaten 44-16 by Leicester, his day got worse when he broke his hand in the 16th minute and was forced to leave the field. This was all the more agonising given that prior to the end of season play-offs Buxton had been named in the full England squad for the summer tour of South Africa. The injury meant his dreams of achieving full international honours were dashed as he was forced to stay at home – and ultimately never got the chance to represent his country again.
Buxton, who by now was one of the most experienced players in the Gloucester squad, overcame this setback to be named joint captain with Marco Bortolami for the 2007-2008 campaign. In December 2007 he signed a contract extension to keep him at Kingsholm until 2010, before once again helping the club finish top of the Guinness Premiership table. For a second season in a row Buxton was prevented from lifting the Premiership trophy by Leicester – this time following a narrow 26-25 play-off semi-final defeat at Kingsholm.
Buxton was rewarded with a testimonial season in 2011 after ten years at the club. He celebrated the occasion by making his 250th competitive appearance for Gloucester in a game against Worcester, and by signing a new one year contract to keep him at Kingsholm until 2013. Having served this term Buxton – now 34 years old – agreed a season-long deal with local rivals Bristol, only to make a dramatic U-turn a few weeks later to take on the role of Senior Academy Manager at Gloucester when the post suddenly became vacant – a decision that was partly influenced by Bristol’s failure to win promotion to the Premiership for the following season. Buxton was already more than familiar with the Academy structure, having combined his playing duties with coaching the Gloucester Rugby U18s the previous season, and jumped at the chance to widen his remit.
In doing so he made the decision to retire as a professional rugby player after thirteen years at the top. During this period he made 273 (182 Premiership) appearances for the Cherry and Whites, scoring 8 (4 Premiership) tries. The club’s 40-39 defeat by Exeter Chiefs on 4th May 2013 proved to be his last game as a pro.
After two years in the role and thirteen years at Gloucester Rugby in total as both a player and a manager, Peter Buxton left the club in July 2015 to pursue other opportunities.