Just prior to this season beginning three stalwarts of Taunton RFC – Jack Matthews, Gerry Winter and Richard Walford – sat down to pick their best post-War Taunton XV. Each home game this season we’ll be putting forward their selections of the outstanding players position by position from the last 70 years. Do you agree with them?
Week Four: Second Row
Who is to accompany Jack Matthews in the second row? There’s little doubt that one of the most accomplished players ever to represent Somerset’s county town side is Sam Skinner who has since gone on to play international rugby for Scotland. Skinner played 24 times for Titans – including a surprise debut on the wing due to Aron Struminski’s registration not being complete in time for kick-off – before moving on to Exeter Chiefs where he won the Premiership twice and the European Cup. Jerry, Richard and Jack decided, though, that Skinner’s best rugby has come since he moved on from Taunton.
Jack was in no doubt, however, as to who would partner him in the second row and both Jerry and Richard agreed. The lock wearing the number 5 shirt would be his old ally, Barry Burridge. The panel described Barry as ‘ahead of his time’, very mobile and with good hands. In the modern game he could even have played as a winger. Jack recalled that he sometimes needed a good dig in the ribs (or equivalent) to wake him up in a game and many was the time he went for an opponent when it was really Jack who had given him the unfriendly tap to gee him up! Burridge went on to be Chairman of Taunton RFC. He was recognised with representative honours for Somerset and for Western Counties, for whom he played against touring international sides like the 1970 Fijians.
Image: 1st XV 1974/75, Barry is in the back row, 4th from left