19th October 1880 – 6th August 1916. Army Service Corps
Leonard Haigh was born in Prestwich in 1880. He was born the son of a local yarn mogul. After attending school in Southport, he returned to Manchester and joined the spinning trade as part of the family business. In 1912, he married Eudora Mason at a ceremony in Timperley, and soon afterwards they had a son, John.
Haigh was an avid sportsman from a young age and, upon his return to the city, he joined Manchester Football Club, playing in the front row. By 1910, he was captain of Manchester and of Lancashire, and in the same year he earned the first of his seven England caps against Ireland. The following year, he was ever-present in the Five Nations and also twice wore the black and white hoops of the Barbarians.
Haigh retired at the end of 1911. The following year, Haigh was elected as a vice-president of the Manchester club, in such esteemed company as Richard Sykes, who first brought rugby to the city, and club legend Willie Parlane.
Upon the outbreak of war Haigh was 34 years old. He joined up along with most of the Manchester club but his time in uniform was short-lived. As Mike Hagger writes;
Haigh was a keen motorist who had developed a strong interest in workings of these rapidly developing vehicles. He was therefore assigned to the Army Service Corps as an Officer Cadet. The Army Service Corps was huge, with some ten thousand officers and three hundred thousand men at its peak. As motorized transport gradually took over from horses, men such as Haigh with good mechanical knowledge were kept away from front line duties. Whilst still in officer training at Woolwich, Haigh developed double pneumonia during exercises, succumbing to the illness on 6 August 1916.
War’s casualties were not only in the trenches.
Manchester honour Haigh’s service to the club with the Haigh Cup. This is a trophy won by Haigh himself (for golf, because it seems that he was good at everything) and is presented annually to the player with the most appearances that year for the club. His son John served in the RAF during the Second World War and died in 1939. Eudora, who did not remarry, lived until she was 95.
Haigh is buried in Pott Shrigley Churchyard, Cheshire, Grave 99.
World Rugby Museum
The Rugby History Society