Cail, William

William Cail was President of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) in the early twentieth century. An influential figure in the RFU, Cail was instrumental in developing plans for a new national rugby stadium at Twickenham.

Cail was reputedly a hard headed businessman. He became President of the RFU in 1892 and again in 1894. Whilst serving on the RFU committee he persuaded other members to stand firm against the request from twenty-two northern clubs that players be paid for ‘broken time’ (this was so called because of the time players took off work to play matches). Cail was a strong defender of the game’s amateur status and in his role on the committee went on to strengthen the laws against professionalism - to protect the game from what he saw as a corruption of the amateur ethos of rugby.

Cail served a large part of his life as Honorary Treasurer of the RFU, spending a total of thirty years in the post from 1894 to 1924. In this role he arranged for a £6,000 overdraft to allow the RFU to buy land at Twickenham for the new ground. His name is often neglected in the histories of Twickenham, in favour of his colleague William ‘Billy’ Williams, after whom the stadium is nicknamed “Billy Williams’ Cabbage Patch”. However Cail’s influence was just as important in making Twickenham the home of English Rugby.


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