Vivian Jenkins: Sunday Times chief rugby writer and British Lion

Vivian Jenkins, who has died aged 92, was best known as a rugby union writer for The Sunday Times, and in his youth had a distinguished sporting career playing rugby for Wales, the Barbarians and the Lions, and cricket for Glamorgan.

In later years, Jenkins, who was a great raconteur, used to enjoy regaling his journalist colleagues with adventures such as his journey to cover Wally Hammond’s England cricket tour of Australia in 1946-47.

While team and officials travelled by boat, he went out by flying boat, dressing for dinner each night and going ashore at exotic venues such as Rome, Cairo and Singapore.

In the Fifties, Jenkins joined The Sunday Times as its chief rugby writer; he remained in this position for more than 20 years until he retired in 1976.

He also edited Rothman’s Rugby Annual and did a stint as chairman of the Rugby Union Writers’ Club.

Jenkins was shrewd. Once at Newlands, Cape Town, he was observed, an hour before the Test match, shifting name labels on one of the benches in the press box, apparently to make more room for himself and his paraphernalia.

Soon after the final whistle, while all the rugby correspondents were busy typing their reports, the sun went down suddenly behind Table Mountain – as Jenkins knew it would. A secretary was sitting next to Jenkins and, as gloom descended, Jenkins delved into his briefcase and fished out a sort of battery-operated miner’s lamp which he fastened to his forehead with a mischievous grin. The rest of us were left to go in search of a room where we could read our notes and type our reports.

His wife, Sue, predeceased him.

After her death, Jenkins used to forsake the English winter and travel to the warmth of New Zealand, where he had many friends.

David Frost ©The Times

David Frost ©The Times

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