Trinity were sad to learn of the passing of one of our true legends, and gentleman, Don Robinson on Saturday, aged was 84 years old. Don Robinson was one of the ‘young guns’ of the Wakefield Trinity pack of the early 1950s who went from schoolboy rugby league to the international arena within a couple of years and became Trinity’s first World Cup winner.
‘Just occasionally there arrives on the rugby league scene a youngster of tender years with the skills and physique with which he takes the code by storm once given the opportunity to play in the senior ranks’. These were the words written by John Lindley in his 1973 book ‘100 Years of Rugby’ and attributed to Don Robinson. He meant that Don was playing schoolboy rugby in Castleford in 1948, first team rugby at Trinity in 1950, aged 17, playing for Yorkshire in 1951, aged 19, followed by England in 1951, aged 19 and Great Britain shortly after.
Don’s rise to representative honours was phenomenal. The fast, wide running second rower helped him, and Trinity win the Yorkshire Cup in 1951, defeating Keighley 18-2, but his greatest memory was defeating favourites, Leeds at Headingley, 18-17 in the semi final. 1951 was a busy year; in May he represented an RL XIII in a friendly against France in Paris, in October he represented England against France in Marseilles, a week later he was selected as a reserve for the Great Britain team for the test series against New Zealand and a month later he made his Yorkshire debut, against the Kiwis at Belle Vue, Wakefield. All this and still on 19 years old!
The following year he became Trinity’s first junior international, when he represented England under 21s against France in Avignon followed by his second Yorkshire cap, against the 1952 touring Australian tourists. His greatest international achievement came two years later when he was selected for Great Britain in the inaugural World Cup in France in 1954. He debuted against Australia in Lyon, winning 28-13 and followed these up with caps against France and New Zealand, culminating in his greatest achievement, playing in the second row as GB defeated France, 16-12 in the 1954 World Cup Final in Paris.
By the following season, he was Trinity’s captain and played for Great Britain in the first test against the 1955 touring Kiwis, but he broke his leg after seven minutes and within a couple of months his Trinity career was suddenly over when he signed for Leeds. He enhanced his medal collection at Headingley with Challenge Cup and Championship winners medals aswell as further county and international honours but after retirement in the mid-1960s, Don was back at Belle Vue as a very popular coach of the junior and intermediate teams.
Don goes down in Trinity’s history as our first World Cup winner, youngest county and international player and one of the youngest forwards ever to play for the club. Up until last season, he was still a loyal Trinity man and was often seen at Belle Vue, every home game sat in the stands. A true Trinity great!