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Club: History


1970-1979 as told by Peter Wheeler

By Peter Wheeler - 349 games for Tigers plus 41 England and 7 Lions caps between 1969-85 - Now the club's Executive Director

I joined the club in 1969, and my formative years were impressionable, coming into a great club that by the late 70's had moved into the modern era. At the beginning of the decade we had just 600-700 members and gates less than 1,000. By end of the decade we had reached our first cup final and the club was on its way towards a real growth period.

Bob Rowell takes on Gloucester in 1971

Bob Rowell takes on Gloucester in 1971

The big influence was undoubtedly Chalkie White coming to Leicester in 1968. He was a very forward thinking coach, the standards he set in terms of fitness and thinking about the game, the attraction of the way he played the game enabling us to have quality backs which brought us success on the pitch. It took us to cup-finals and was really the start that brought about the increase in membership and the crowds really took off again. It also had the double effect of attracting new and better players, people like Clive Woodward and some of the guys from Loughborough.

The 80's still followed in a large part the old amateur days with traditional rugby concepts of away nights, the Easter tours, and so on. In the 70's we moved away from the old Tigers traditional tour which used to be down to the West country, but I went to Southport a couple of times and that was great fun.

John Reeve supported by Paul Dodge and Marcus Rose in 1976

John Reeve supported by Paul Dodge and Marcus Rose in 1976

We made our first tentative steps into corporate sponsorship - the first match sponsors were brought into the old Nissan hut we had at the end of the ground. We also used to have some pretty late nights in there after training, chatting about this and that.

There were lots of changes, if you take the early part of the 70's, from a hooker's point of view, those were the days before people used to tap. If you weren't a very good hooker you could get taken against the head by some wily old player - there was a lot of cunning skullduggery going on in the front row.

It was also the outstanding era of Barbarians games, a real contrast from 750-2000 spectators you were getting each week to the Barbarians which was a packed house. Just as importantly you were actually playing against the best players in the UK. All the top men played for the Barbarians. On the current scale you would have Dallaglio, Howley and so on, almost a British Lions strength. I'm sure people in earlier decades would say the same but certainly in the 70's the Baabaa's fixture was the most important fixture and one that holds many good memories, as well as the evenings afterwards.

In the semi-final of the 1979 John Player Cup, Leicester ran in no less than 8 tries against Wasps

In the semi-final of the 1979 John Player Cup, Leicester ran in no less than 8 tries against Wasps
Tigers Record
Pld 417, Won 255, Drew 15, Lost 147
Biggest win: 65-3 vs Liverpool on 16 Sep 1972
Most Appearances in Era: Bleddyn Jones 330, Garry Adey 318, Bob Barker 287+2
Most Tries in Era: John Duggan 151, Bob Barker 150, Brian Hall 57
Most Points in Era: Bob Barker 1093, Dusty Hare 1084, John Duggan 580
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