Former High Wycombe Rugby Club and England player Ted Woodward has died aged 85.

The Wasps captain, who won 15 caps for his country and was also a Barbarian, passed away on Monday (January 16) at Harefield Hospital.

John Edward Woodward was born in Lane End in 1931. His mother was a housewife and his father ran a butcher’s shop.

According to a tribute on Rugby Football Union's website, Woodward was a sporty child, playing football for the county. So when the time came to choose a secondary school, his love of sports was at the forefront of his mind.

The website quoted him as telling World Rugby Museum: “I went to High Wycombe for an interview, and the headmaster asked me why I wanted to come to the Royal Grammar School and I said ‘sport, Sir’.”

As a 13-year-old football fan, Woodward found himself on the playing fields of High Wycombe’s Royal Grammar School, playing an “alien oval-ball sport” – and positioned in the front row.

According to his interview with WRM in 2014, he hated the sport when he first played it.

But, despite this and having no previous knowledge of the game, or any known history of family involvement, in just over six years’ time, a 20-year-old Woodward would line up on the wing at Twickenham for his England debut. It was the start of a four-year national career.

He also played for High Wycombe Rugby Club in the late 40s, going on to captain the Wasps before playing on the wing for England from 1952 to 1956.

In his WRM interview, he spoke about working as a butcher at the age of 19, having taken over the family shop following the “untimely” death of his father.

He said: “It was quite difficult because I’d never been a butcher in my life.”

His commitments at the shop also saw him miss a crucial England trial on the advice of the president of his county side, and he told WRM: “When you’re butchering, a very busy time is at Christmas and one of the trials was at Christmas time.

“Cyril Gadney was President of Middlesex in those days, and quite high up in the Rugby Union, and he said ‘you should drop out of that one, because they’re bound to pick you for the next one’. Obviously I was worried, but coming from him, well I thought – he must know.”

According to the WRM interview, he managed to keep his place in the side and started his second season as an England player. During that season – 1952/53 – he scored wins against France and Scotland.

Life after England saw Woodward open a sports shop with fellow Wasps player Louis Stalder and retired from the sport at the age of 34, having a young family to also look after.

He looked back on his life with “great satisfaction”, telling WRM: “I’ve had a fantastic life, a good wife and three marvellous kids. I’ve been successful in business. I owe a lot to playing rugby.”

High Wycombe Rugby Club said: “It is with sadness that we record the death of Ted Woodward who passed away last night in Harefield Hospital.”

His funeral took place at the Chiltern Crematorium this week.

RFU's full tribute can be found here.