Hartley Wintney Famous Face: Adrian Stoop

When you think of rugby’s most influential players names like Jonny Wilkinson, Jonah Lomu, and Francois Pienaar might come up, or legends of the past like William Webb Ellis, who is credited with creating the game. But a name that is not mentioned as often is Adrian Stoop, though he undoubtedly deserves to be in those conversations, and he lived right here in Hartley Wintney.


CommunityAd Exclusive - Hartley Wintney Famous Face: Adrian Stoop Adrian Stoop was born on 27th March 1883 in Kensington to a Dutch father and a Scottish/Irish mother. He was a keen rugby player from a young age, attending Rugby School in 1898 and then on to Oxford University in 1904, where he captained the rugby team.

Whilst still at Rugby School, Stoop was approached by Harlequins to come and join the club. He had also had an offer from Blackheath RFC, who at the time were a much larger and more successful club than Harlequins, but Stoop decided to join Quins and made his debut for them in November 1901.

Stoop’s Harlequins career was illustrious. He played 182 times for the club in a playing career that lasted from 1901 – 1939 (his final game was at the age of 56), captaining them on 143 occasions, and scoring 86 tries. Alongside his playing commitments, he was the club secretary from 1905-1914, club captain from 1906-1914, and club president from 1920-1949.

Whilst at Harlequins, he revolutionised the way backs played the game. Prior to Stoop, the common practice was to have a left half-back, and a right half-back who would fulfill the same roles on each side of the pitch. Stoop developed what is known in the modern game as the scrum-half and fly-half, designating one specific role to each player wherever the ball is on the pitch. This was revolutionary at the time and helped Quins and England to very successful periods, and is now the default line-up for every team in the world.

He also had great success in his own England career, winning 15 England caps and scoring 6 tries between 1906-1912. He also captained England in their first ever match at the now famous Twickenham Stadium in 1910; an 11-6 win over Wales in the 5 Nations, which proved crucial as England won the title by 1 point. Off the pitch, he became president of the RFU in 1932 and was a key member of the selection committee.

Outside of rugby, he had a successful military career during World War 1, serving as a Captain in the Queens Royal Regiment and being awarded the Military Cross in recognition of ‘exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land’.

Adrian and his wife bought their home, Hartley Grange, in Hartley Wintney in 1921 and lived there until his death in 1957, aged 74. He is buried at St Mary’s Church, Hartley Wintney.

In 1963 Harlequins acquired a piece of land across the road from the Twickenham Stadium to build a permanent home of their own, which they named The Stoop Memorial Ground, and is affectionately known as simply, The Stoop.

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