Black and gold
In 1999, Cornwall’s Rugby Union team reached the final of the County Championship. Before 1999, Cornwall had played in six County Championship finals but had only won once, in 1908. Thousands of Cornish people, wearing the Cornish colours of black and gold, travelled to Twickenham to cheer their team on.
A tough game
The Yorkshire team was thought to be better than Cornwall, so it was going to be a tough game. In fact, for three quarters of the game, the Cornwall team was losing to Yorkshire. After one hour, the score was Cornwall 3 – Yorkshire 16.
With the support of the crowd, the Cornwall team fought back. Richard Nancekivell scored a try for Cornwall and his teammate Grant Champion kicked a penalty. Near the end of the game, Richard scored another try. If Grant could kick the conversion, Cornwall would win the game – but unfortunately, he missed. The score was Cornwall 20 - Yorkshire 20, so the game had to go into extra time.
Victory against the odds
During extra time, the Cornish player Tommy Bassett scored another try, putting Cornwall in the lead for the first time. The Cornish supporters went wild! Then, in the very last minute of the game, a try from Billy Peters put Cornwall nine points in the lead. At the final whistle, thousands of Cornish supporters ran onto the pitch to congratulate their heroes. Against all the odds, the Cornwall team had won an unforgettable victory: Cornwall 29 – Yorkshire 20.
Did you know?
Over 40,000 people travelled from Cornwall to watch the game. This was 10% of the population of Cornwall. If the same percentage of people in England went to watch their national rugby team, the stadium would need to hold over four million people!
The crowd at the final was probably the largest ever gathering of Cornish people in one place.
Supporters of Cornwall’s Rugby Union team are called ‘Trelawny’s Army’. They take their name from the events surrounding the arrest, imprisonment and release of Jonathan Trelawny.