• Keith Gregson

Oh Brother!

Followers of the Rugby World Cup cannot have failed to notice that the All Blacks have been able to put three brothers out on the park together – and try scoring brothers at that.

Although this is quite something it is not unique – for example the father of England’s two Vinupola boys turned out for Tonga with two of his brothers towards the end of the last century and Sunderland RFC also has previous (and indeed present) when it comes to family involvement.

Kayll Brothers Pic – Henry with his England cap and J J with his county cap in the county cup winning side of 1881

Perhaps the best the club has on record relates to the Kayll brothers who played during the very early years of rugby in Sunderland. There were six brothers (including Durham and England’s Henry Kayll) and according to the club history published in the 1960s on one occasion ‘all six appeared in the first XV’ with ‘five as forwards’ and international Henry at full back. During the 1878/9 season, four of the brothers turned out for Durham County – although not all at the same time.

Legat Pic - The unfortunate Andrew (standing) and brother Charles (seated left) in a pre- war 1 st XV

During the early 20th century the five sporting sons of Dr Legat turned out for the club. (At one point the family lived in a relatively small terraced house in St Vincent Street). There is evidence for four of them playing at the same time for one of the club’s sides and the club history mentioned above notes that ‘on at least two occasions three Legat brothers appeared in the forwards’ for the 1st XV. Two of the brothers feature in the online book dedicated to club members who served in the First World War*. William Legat served in the Middlesex Regiment and was wounded in the face. Andrew was in the Royal Field Artillery.

He was awarded a military cross for bravery on the Western Front. He was killed in action in 1917 and is buried in one of the War Grave cemeteries. Charles was in the Royal Garrison Artillery. The family lived in Grange Terrace for years although Charles seems to have spent some time in Argentina after the war. A descendant, Jeremy Legat (who is a successful television and theatre actor in Britain and Canada featuring in ‘The Murdoch Mysteries” and “The Umbrella Academy”) came to Sunderland to seek out his ancestry and spent time with the club’s archivist.

Pic – KG with Jeremy Legat

And of course we have today the rugby-playing and coaching Edmundsons with two brothers and a cousin often appearing in a side coached by the brothers’ father! There are probably other examples over the years. Get in touch if you know of any.


*Can you do nothing to mend my broken heart? The Ashbrooke Boys - A sports club at war 1914-18, online   https://shoptly.com/i/w4r

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2020 Update

Hi, everybody. You will have realised by now that this blog is no longer active but it still has historical uses. If interested in the history of most of the sports in Sunderland, please trawl throug