Photo- Roger Harris (left) with former Penryn & Cornwall team mate Graham Bate
Former Penryn hooker and captain, Roger Harris, who was part of the Cornwall side that played Lancashire in the 1969 County final at Redruth, has sadly passed away aged 76 following a short illness.
Harris played 62 times for Cornwall, a record for his position, he was part of a formidable front row with “Bonzo” Johns and “Stack” Stevens as his props, he was also an acknowledged goal-kicker with a torpedo kicking style, and kicked the first points for Cornwall in the 1969 final against Lancashire in front of some 23,000 spectators. Sadly despite leading 9-0 at half-time, Cornwall eventually lost 11-9.
Other stand out games for Cornwall included the three against Surrey in the semi-final stage in 1966-67, in the first replay at Richmond, following a 9-9 draw at Redruth in the first game, with seconds remaining, and Cornwall trailing, he snaffled the ball in his own twenty-two before passing to Richard Sharp who in turn fed winger Kenny Plummer for a try, allowing Roger Hosen to kick a touch-line conversion to level the scores at 14-14 and send the tie into a second replay at Redruth, but sadly Cornwall lost it 14-3.
He played for the combined Cornwall and Devon side against the three major southern hemisphere nations, and rated All Black Colin Meads as the hardest player he had ever played against.
He also captained a Cornwall and Devon side on a tour to Romania in the early seventies, which he told me was quite an eye-opener.
Other notable playing highlights included: playing for Cornwall against a French Select side in Clermont-Ferrand in 1969, a game that ended in an 11-all draw; twice touring South Wales on the Barbarians Easter Tour in 1969 & 70; and playing in the Mobbs Memorial Match in 1970 for the invitational side.
He was very unfortunate not to be capped by England, being a bench replacement on numerous occasions, notably in 1969 when England defeated South Africa at Twickenham 11-8, England’s first ever win against the Springboks.
Educated at Truro Cathedral School where he was encouraged with rugby by his headmaster Mr Mischler, he played as youngster with Truro before going to St. Luke’s College.
On the club front he played briefly for Plymouth Albion, but principally for the fine Penryn side of the 1960’s and early 70’s. He was part of the team that won the first CRFU Knock Out Cup in 67-68 season, when they defeated Redruth 5-0 in the final. He also captained the club in their RFU Knock Out Cup quarter-final defeat 28–4 at Penryn against a David Duckham-inspired Coventry in 1972, in front of a crowd of some 5,000. In a previous round, they had knocked out Exeter following a draw at the County Ground in Exeter, going through as the away side.
Photo- Harris to left of Bonzo Johns playing against Devon
After retiring from playing he became a regional selector in the England set up of the time at schools level and was also Chairman of Selectors for Cornwall during part of the 1984-85 season.
He coached at Penryn and also at Perranporth, where he lived.