David Bedell-Sivright

David Bedell-Sivright

David Bedell-Sivright
Full name David Revell Bedell-Sivright
Date of birth (1880-12-08)8 December 1880
Place of birth St. George, Edinburgh,[1] Scotland
Date of death 5 September 1915(1915-09-05) (aged 34)
Place of death Gallipoli, Turkey
School Fettes College
University Trinity College, Cambridge
Occupation(s) surgeon
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Forward
Amateur clubs
Years Club / team
Cambridge University R.U.F.C.
Edinburgh University RFC
Fettesian-Lorettonian Club
West of Scotland F.C.
Edinburgh Wanderers RFC
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
British Isles

David Revell "Darkie" Bedell-Sivright (8 December 1880 – 5 September 1915) was a Scottish international rugby union forward who played club rugby for Cambridge and Edinburgh Universities. Bedell-Sivright was one of the true characters of the sport of rugby and was chosen to lead a British Isles team on a tour of Australia. A surgeon by profession, he joined the Royal Navy during the First World War, and died on active service during the Gallipoli Campaign.

Personal history

Bedell-Sivright was born in Edinburgh in 1880 to William Henry Revell Bedell-Sivright of North Queensferry. Bedell-Sivright was educated at Fettes College.[3] before going up to Trinity College, Cambridge in 1899 to read medicine. He later completed his medical training at the University of Edinburgh.[4]

There are many tales surrounding Bedell-Sivright, and it is difficult to separate fact from fiction. It is said that in 1909 he became Scottish amateur boxing champion, that after one international he rugby tackled a cart horse in Princes Street in Edinburgh[5] and once lay down on the tram tracks in the city and held up the traffic for an hour as no policeman would approach him.

On 25 January 1915 Bedell-Sivright was commissioned as a surgeon in the Royal Navy.[6] He was posted to the Hawke Battalion of the Royal Naval Division stationed at Gallipoli during the Dardanelles Campaign in May 1915.[7] He was loaned to the Royal Scots Fusiliers from 8 to 20 June, and was then posted to the Portsmouth Battalion of Royal Marine Light Infantry. After a period onshore in the trenches while serving at an advanced dressing station, he was bitten by an unidentified insect. He complained of being fatigued and was taken offshore and transferred to the hospital ship HMHS Dunluce Castle.[7][8] Two days later, on 5 September, he died of septicaemia and was buried at sea off Cape Helles.[7] He is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.[9]

Rugby career

Bedell-Sivright first came to note as a rugby player, when he represented Cambridge University in the Varsity matches between 1899 and 1902, winning four sporting Blues during the period. Bedell-Sivright was first capped for Scotland in 1900 in a match against Wales at St Helen's, Swansea. A turning point in Welsh rugby, the home team won 12-3, but the selectors stuck with Bedell-Sivright and he would win another 21 caps for his country scoring three tries.

Sivright would later be chosen to tour with two different British Isles team. The first was the 1903 tour of South Africa under the captaincy of fellow Scottish international Mark Morrison. Although at the centre of the British Isles pack, Beddel-Sivright did not play in any of the test games.

In 1904, surprisingly on the request of the England Rugby Board, Bedell-Sivright was selected to lead out a British Lions team on a tour of Australia. Although he only played in one test game, because of a broken leg, he was so impressed with the country he decided to settle there. After a year he became bored of 'jackarooing', decided to leave Australia and headed back to Scotland to study medicine. While studying at in Edinburgh, he joined the University Rugby team, captaining them for two season in 1906/07 and 1908/09.[10]

He was the brother of John Bedell-Sivright who played for Cambridge University RFC, and gained a single international cap in 1902.[11]

International matches played


British Isles

See also

  • List of international rugby union players killed in action during the First World War

External links

  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission Includes a photo of Bedell-Sivright
  • Photo of 1901 Scotland team which played Wales. Bedell-Sivright back row far left.
  • An entire team wiped out by the Great War (The Scotsman)


  • Bath, Richard (ed.) The Scotland Rugby Miscellany (Vision Sports Publishing Ltd, 2007 ISBN 1-905326-24-6)