James Peters was the first Black man to play Rugby Football for England. Born in Salford slums of Manchester He moved to London where he began to play Rugby.
Later he moved to Bristol and then Plymouth where he worked as a Docker and quickly got into the local team. Before long he was selected to play for Devon (The county Team), where he had a notable impact.
The Sportsman commented on 14th March 1907 –
Peters ‘gave such an admirable exposition of half back play’ against Durham, at Exeter, that ‘he could not well have been left out of the side’ that was picked to represent England.
Peters had been repeatedly recommended to the England selectors but had been overlooked on a number of occasions. When he did make it into the team for a game against Scotland, he again made his presence felt by his good passing of the ball. England won the game despite being the underdogs.
Again the Sportsman commends him –
‘ For a first international the dusky Plymouth man did many good things, especially in passing.
He continued to play for some time. However he was suspended for a time after the Rugby football league found that he had been paid for some amateur games. After that he tried to introduce the professional game into the county. He signed for Barrow in Furness and continued to work in the docks there.