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The 1987–88 John Player Special Cup was the 17th edition of England's premier rugby union cup competition. Harlequins won the competition, for the first time, defeating Bristol in the final at Twickenham Stadium.[1] The competition was sponsored by John Player cigarettes.[2]

1987–88 John Player Special Cup
Countries England
Highest attendance37,000 Harlequins v Bristol at Twickenham

First roundEdit

Home Away Score
Askeans London Irish 10-12
Bedford Barkers Butts 35-4
Berry Hill Salisbury 12-0
Devonport Services Maidenhead 11-12
Dixonians Droitwich 21-6
Ealing Southend 10-9
Gordon League Chiltern 44-7
Fylde Hartlepool Rovers 30-9
Leighton Buzzard Derby 10-7
Letchworth Blackheath 0-26
Lewes Havant 15-13
Lichfield Vipers 31-3
London Scottish Sudbury 9-3
Nuneaton Aspatria 4-43
Old Alleynians Maidstone 12-0
Oxford Camborne 14-0
Redruth Old Culverhaysians 26-9
Tynedale Vale of Lune 16-15
Wakefield Morley 22-0
Widnes Birkenhead Park 4-3

Second roundEdit

Home Away Score
Berry Hill Lewe 35-9
Dixonians Asptatria 3-53
Gordon League Oxford 18-16
Leighton Buzzard Bedford 6-24
Lichfield Widnes 31-3
London Irish Ealing 13-10
Maidenhead Old Alleynians 13-3
Redruth Blackheath 9-13
Tynedale London Scottish 11-9
Wakefield Fylde 24-21

Third roundEdit

Home Away Score
Aspatria Wasps 6-13
Bedford Bristol 4-21
Coventry Tynedale 7-6
Gloucester Orrell 19-9
Gordon League Headingley 10-0
Harlequins Maidenhead 40-0
Lichfield Bath 3-43
London Irish Sale 3-16
London Welsh Berry Hill 10-13
Plymouth Albion Northampton 14-7
Richmond Liverpool St Helens 10-6
Rosslyn Park Leicester 0-15
Ruislip Gosforth 10-13
Saracens Blackheath 15-3
Waterloo Nottingham 19-6
Wakefield Moseley 4-14

Fourth roundEdit

Home Away Score
Berry Hill Harlequins 4-17
Bristol Richmond 34-0
Coventry Sale 0-13
Gloucester Wasps 13-24
Gordon League Waterloo 9-11
Leicester Bath 6-13
Moseley Gosforth 33-9
Plymouth Albion Saracens 14-6


Home Away Score
Plymouth Albion Wasps 4-26
Harlequins Waterloo 37-4
Moseley Bath 4-3
Sale Bristol 15-19


Moseley 6 – 34 Bristol
The Reddings

Wasps 16 – 20 Harlequins
(aet, 80 mins 16 – 16)


30 April 1988
Harlequins 28 – 22 Bristol
Try: Will Carling 2  
Andrew Harriman  
Con: Stuart Thresher
Jamie Salmon
Pen: Stuart Thresher
Jamie Salmon 3
Try: Huw Duggan  
Penalty Try  
Con: Jonathan Webb
Pen: Jonathan Webb 3
Drop: Ralph Knibbs
Twickenham Stadium, London
Attendance: 37,000 (record for competition)
Referee: Fred Howard (Liverpool)
15 Stuart Thresher
14 Andrew Harriman
13 Jamie Salmon
12 Will Carling
11 Everton Davis
10 Adrian Thompson
9 Richard Moon
8 Richard Langhorn
7 Tim Bell
6 Mick Skinner
5 Neil Edwards
4 Paul Ackford
3 Andy Mullins
2 John Olver (c)
1 Paul Curtis
16 Simon Hunter
17 Richard Cramb
18 Alan Woodhouse
19 David Butcher
20 S Conway
21 Chris Sheasby
A Jonathan Webb
B Huw Duggan
C David Thomas
D Ralph Knibbs
E John Carr
F Simon Hogg
G Richard Harding
O Paul Collings
N Wayne Hone
M Andy Dun
L Nigel Pomphrey (c)
K Andy Blackmore
J John Doubleday
I Dave Palmer
H Crayton Phillips
P Kevin Morgan
Q Paul Jeffrey
R Kevin Bogira
S Darryll Hickey
T Geoff Crane
U Pete Polledri
Bob Hesford


  • The attendance for the final of 37,000 was highest in the competition's history
  • Bath's unbeaten sequence of 22 matches ended when Moseley beat them in a quarter-final at The Reddings



The competition was sponsored, for the last time, by John Player and the prize money was £125,000 (an increase of £15,000). Both finalists received £3,750 each and in thirteen years of sponsorship over £1 million has been provided.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Austin, Michael (1988). Jones, Stephen (ed.). John Player Special Cup 1987–88. In Rothmans Rugby Union Yearbook 1988–89 (17th ed.). London: Rothmans Publications Ltd. pp. 117–122.
  2. ^ "Times Archives". Oxfordshire Libraries.