Stuart Morris, one of the finest players ever to have worn the white shirt of Newton Abbot, was born and educated in Kingsteignton and excelled at various sports during his spell at Kingsteignton Secondary Modern School. Brought up at 14 Pottery Cottages, the back garden of which used to stretch all the way back to the cart-track that ran beside the Rackerhayes Rugby ground, it is not surprising that he was attracted to the handling code of football and began his rugby career with the “All Whites”.
As a young man Stuart was packed off to Aldershot to do his stint of National Service with the Army Catering Corps. His sojourn at Aldershot brought him to the attention of the Hampshire selectors after being spotted playing for the Combined Services team against the county team. In turn, representing Hampshire, saw him impress the selectors of London and Southeast Counties when they were putting together a side to face Paris.
His performance in the Paris game saw him picked again for London & SE Counties when they faced the mighty Springboks on 13th November 1960. At the time the South Africans had perhaps the most formidable pack in world rugby.
In the match Stuart’s fielding and kicking were described in national papers as immaculate. Peter Wilson of the Daily Mirror wrote that Stuart was the only player in the London & SE side who was superior to his opposite number in the Springboks side, as he kicked the penalty that accounted for all of the London and SE’s points in the game - which they lost 20-3. After the match, the Springboks were full of praise for him and said that his display was the finest from an opposition full-back that they had encountered on the tour. Such displays brought a call up for an England trial but sadly injury prevented him taking part.
It was around this rime that he turned dpwn an approach from Rugby League club Oldham to go north and play the professional code.
Stuart pictured 5th from the left with his "All Whites" team-mates circa 1960 - photo courtesy of Mrs Margaret Baker whose late husband Dave is 5th from the right
Stuart's time based at Aldershot saw him help Hampshire to reach the County Championship final in 1962, which they lost to Warwickshire.
When the New Zealand All Blacks toured Britain in 1963 they, like their Springbok rivals had done three years before, named Stuart as one of the best full-backs they had encountered after his performance for London & SE Counties.
In 1964 he was playing for Newton again and in March 1964 became the first player in the history of the club to be selected for the Barbarians. During the invitations club’s Easter tour of South Wales he scored ten points (two penalties and two conversions) against Penarth. Based again in Devon he was selected for the county team along with other Newton players such as Phil McCue and Roy Baker.
Unfortunately, he never got another call up for a national trial, which just shows how fickle the sporting fates can be.
submitted by Steve Harris