Born 28 December 1946
Died 19th June 2007, Yeovil, Somerset


429th player to be capped by the Royal Navy Rugby Union.  45th Captain of the Royal Navy Rugby Union and was captain for 9 matches.
11 caps
Played against the Army in 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980
Played against the Royal Air Force in 1974, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980


Inter Service Record

Played 11 Won 7 Drew 1 Lost 3
Inter Service Titles 2 plus 2 triple ties

1974 Royal Navy 25 Army 3
1974 Royal Navy 23 Royal Air Force 13
1975 Royal Navy 19 Army 0
1976 Royal Navy 6 Army 15
1976 Royal Navy 21 Royal Air Force 3
1977 Royal Navy 16 Army 0
1977 Royal Navy 15 Royal Air Force 9
1978 Royal Navy 17 Army 16
1978 Royal Navy 15 Royal Air Force 8
1980 Royal Navy 0 Army 0
1980 Royal Navy 16 Royal Air Force 7






The mark of Paul Dunn as a man, a rugby player, a field gunner and a member of the Royal Navy was clear for all to see in 1997 when at a dinner to celebrate 35 year’s of his Service in the RN over 235 guests attended and more than £2000 was raised for the Marie Curie Cancer charity.  At a recent memorial game between the RNRU Mariners and the Fleet Air Arm it was simply and very eloquently put “where Paul served, rugby flourished”.

Paul Dunn – standing 3rd from left – makes his Senior XV debut in 1974 against the Army on 2 March.  Image Courtesy of Trevor Gatehouse Crown Copyright

His impact on Navy Rugby was made at all levels.  Success as captain of both the Combined Services and the Royal Navy did not diminish his burning desire to ensure that rugby was accessible to all at every level.  “Dunso” was a key reason why HMS Heron is the most successful team in the Navy Cup.  Their success is a fitting memorial to his commitment to unit rugby.  Whilst Heron’s triumph in the competition during the 95/96 season (13-6), which denied RM Stonehouse a hat trick of wins, showed that even 22 years after his first naval cap the competitive spirit burned as fiercely as ever.  In this final Paul was at the heart of the Heron fight back when a couple of early RM Stonehouse penalties had left them 6 – 0 down.  The forward exchanges were brutal but despite his age Dunso remained at the thick of the action.  His legendary 50 burpee jumps after every training session clearly standing him in good stead.

Paul Dunn in action. The above image was reproduced in the 1981 Air Day Programme

Paul’s impact as a sportsman was rightly recognised in 1977, the year he captained the RN to an Inter Service title when the RN Sports Control Board made him Royal Navy Sportsman of the Year.  In typical fashion he accepted the award on behalf of Navy Rugby, always a team man.

The 1977 Royal Navy team before the match with the Army.

Paul Dunn (middle row 4 from left) as captain on the 1977 Inter Service winning team.  Mike Pearey in sweater, standing back left was the selector and went on to be President of the RFU and sitting centre front row is Leigh Merrick.  Leigh went on to present the RNRU with the Cossack Sword, awarded for “Ground Gained and Held” .  It is an award I am sure that Paul Dunn would have won if it had been around earlier.

Paul in Combined Services colours at Twickenham under the captaincy of Trevor Gatehouse. The 1974 match against the French Armed Forces was only the second time that CS had won this fixture.  Image Courtesy of Trevor Gatehouse Crown Copyright

Paul’s CS career must have been one of mixed emotions.  Very early on in his Navy career he was selected for the 1965 CS tour to Canada where he played in the matches against Quebec and Nova Scotia.  In 1975 he represented the Combined Services in their match against Australia only to break his arm during the game.  During the 1977/78 season he was CS skipper and must have been looking forward to being in the team to play New Zealand the following season.  However whether it was the loss to Public School Wanders or a desire to pick a large physical pack but by the time the side was selected Paul had been omitted.  I can not help thinking, that the Kiwis who view the openside like the welsh view the fly half, would have appreciated Paul “Dunso” Dunn for the class player and man that he was.

The Final Word

1978 By Royal Appointment.  Paul Dunn introduces the Navy Team to Prince Phillip Image.  Courtesy of Trevor Gatehouse Crown Copyright

I do not think it is for me to have the final word and attempt to sum up “Dunso”.  So I will turn to a comment made by a player who made his debut alongside Paul in the backrow of 1974.  In 2012 I invited Mike Connolly to select his dream XV.  I was not surprised to find Paul in the team and amongst the comments ‘”Dunso” simply the best captain ever.’


Researched by Geraint Ashton Jones from minutes, match programmes, archived papers and personal memory.

Image Credits.  Regretfully the photographer for a couple of the images could not be ascertained.  The crown copyright images also are not stamped with the photographers details.