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Club History

The Club was founded in 1959 by the late Tony Mason and Alan Wright, both players for Sidcup RFC, who subsequently became Vice Presidents of Sidcup RFC and Kent County RFU.

The HSBC Penguins are recognised as the premier touring club in the UK, having played in or against teams from no less than 75 countries. Indeed, we are not only the most travelled rugby club in the world, but the most travelled sports club in the world.

The principal objective of the Club has been to foster - by coaching and playing - the development, goodwill and camaraderie of Rugby Union worldwide. The Club’s coaching and educational programme is organised by the HSBC Penguin International Rugby Football Coaching Academy.

The Club’s committee is drawn from 16 nations and its President is Richard Bennett, an international lawyer.

Eminent past Presidents have included Field Marshall Sir Claude Auchinleck, GCB, CGIE, CSI, DSO, OBE, LLD (Commander-in-Chief of the 8th Army and Indian Army); Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader, CBE, DSO, DFC, FRAcS, DL (Britain’s greatest ace fighter in World War II); Sir Robert Lawrence, CBE, ERD; D.H. Harrison, CBE (President, RFU 1966/1967); Air Commodore R.H.G. Weighill, CBE, DFC (Secretary, RFU 1973/1986); and Sir Peter Yarranton (President, RFU 1991/1992).

In the abbreviated game, the Club was mentioned in the Middlesex Sevens Programme, 2001 as “acknowledged Master of Sevens”. Our many major 7s and 10s titles include winning the following prestigious international tournaments: The Middlesex Sevens (twice); The Cambridge University International 7s; The COBRA International 10s (five times); The Italian RU International 7s (twice); The Scandinavian 10s; The Nordic 7s; The Thai RU International 7s; The Grand Prix of Europe 7s; The Mexican RU International 10s; The Royal Kedah International 7s; The Borneo Invitational 10s; The Singapore Cricket Club 7s; The London 10s and The GFI Hong Kong Football Club 10s.

The Club’s Fifteen-a-Side tours have included many visits to Asia and the Far East, South America, North America, the Middle East and Europe. In the year 2000, we were the first European club to be invited to play a series of International matches versus the National team of the People’s Republic of China.

The Club is proud to have been sponsored by HSBC for its major tours over the past seventeen years. This great banking house is the largest bank in the world, operating in 85 countries. It is the 6th largest public company in the world.

The international playing membership of the Club has been drawn from no less than 32 countries, and distinguished captains have included Waisale Serevi (the world’s No.1 Sevens player from Fiji); Bill Calcraft (Australia and past captain of Oxford University); Rob Wainwright (past captain of Scotland); and Fergus Slattery, one of Ireland’s most notable players.

For a more in-depth history of the club, we suggest you buy a copy of our superb book, The History of the Penguin International RFC. You will find details of how to order a copy elsewhere on the website.

The Penguin International RFC look forward to the future with confidence with the help and dedication of our hard-working, amateur committee.

History by Alan Wright, co-founder & Life President, April 2013

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