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Obituary: David Weeks

Bristol Bears regret to announce the death of David Weeks at the age of 85. A smooth runner with a safe pair of hands, David was an outstanding centre for the club during the late 1950s and early 1960s, averaging thirty matches a season during his seven years at Bristol.

David John Weeks was educated at Bristol Grammar School, where he represented Gloucestershire Schools. He then went to Bristol University, where he captained First XV. He made his Bristol United debut in the 1956-57 season, but his main Bristol playing career began two seasons later. He scored two tries on his first team debut against Esher in October 1958, having been selected on a day when many players were absent on county duty.

At the time of the Esher game David was a twenty-two-year-old shop floor apprentice at Bristol Aeroengines Ltd. He was at work one Tuesday about a fortnight after his debut when his manager appeared and asked: “Is your name Weeks? There’s someone on the phone who wants you to play at Ashton Gate tonight. Is that important?” David’s instant reply was: “It is to me!” Bristol were playing Tony O’Reilly’s XV in a special floodlit game, and David was called up to play when John Radford withdrew with an injury. It was his first match with the bulk of Bristol’s senior players, and he took part in a memorable 26-25 victory. He was awarded his Bristol United cap at the end of the season.

From the start of the 1959-60 season, David Weeks became a first team regular. He became part of a wonderful crop of players who played an innovative and entertaining brand of ‘Bristol Fashion’ rugby under skipper John Blake. He won his first team cap in 1959-60 and his blazer a season later. He was a regular try-scorer, with 16 in 1959-60 being his best haul for a season. In 1961-62 he became Bristol’s vice-captain under Derek Neate, and the 1961-62 team photo shows him sitting in the captain’s position as Neate was ill at the time.

Despite being mainly a centre, David also featured for Bristol as a winger and, when John Blake was injured, as an outside half. He was on the wing during a classic Easter Monday victory against Northampton in 1960, a game which was viewed at the time as an unofficial English Championship decider. David scored two tries in Bristol’s 25-13 victory, both after thrilling runs. Another seminal fixture in which he played was an unofficial floodlit match with Cardiff in November 1961, staged at Cardiff City’s Ninian Park ground.  Bristol produced some stunning rugby on the night, winning 20-3 despite having two players off the field with injuries during the second half. David was particularly proud of playing in this game.

David made a sensational start to the 1962-63 season. Bristol started their campaign at the Torquay Festival, and he scored four tries in a 22-3 win against Roundhay. This was Bristol’s 75th Anniversary season, and one of the events celebrating this milestone was a special sevens tournament at the Memorial Ground. Bristol won their own tournament and David was a member of the winning squad. He remained a first choice player for this and the subsequent two seasons, making his last appearance at Liverpool in the final game of the 1964-65 season. By this time he was working in the Midlands and was finding it difficult to travel back regularly for games. In all he played in 213 first team matches, scoring 50 tries.         

David made his debut for Gloucestershire in the 1959-60 season, and in total he made 13 appearances for the county. He played in the Gloucestershire team which lost the 1964 County Championship semi-final to Lancashire at Bristol, and he was still representing the county during his final Bristol season. In addition, he was one of nine Bristol players who appeared for Western Counties against the touring South Africans at Gloucester in 1960. The Springboks were a strong side, losing only to the Barbarians in the final match of their tour, and they defeated Western Counties 42-0.

When he retired from first class rugby David turned out for Old Bristolians until injury forced him to stop altogether. However, he made an interesting return to the game at the age of 45, at a time when he was working in Ghana. He and various other ex-pats organised a match with Nigeria, and as a result he could claim to have played international rugby for Ghana!

David was a regular spectator at Bristol matches for many years. He was also a very active member of the Bristol Rugby Former Players, and until quite recently he was a member of the committee. All at Bristol Bears send their sincere condolences to David’s family and friends at this very sad time.


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