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2000/2001 News Letter

Penguins | Tuesday 1st May 2001 0:00am

Editor: A.G.L. Wright - Chairman

Season 2001 / 2002

The new Fixture Card accompanying this letter provides the facts and figures, and I am pleased to report that the Club is in good heart and continues to prosper, due to the unfailing efforts of our Committee and the very many good friends we have around the world.

The very essence of a Club is its players, and in this respect we continue to be able to select fine young players from the UK, Europe and the Commonwealth.

As many of you will know, Tony Mason (Life President) has undergone a period of serious illness, but I know you will all be delighted to learn that he has made a brave recovery. It was a pleasure recently to attend his Diamond Wedding Anniversary celebrations. Amongst the guests were three former distinguished Penguin captains, Nick Martin, Peter Cook and Vince Cannon.

I am sure you will all wish to join the Committee in congratulating Derek Morgan, former senior Vice President of the Rugby Football Union, who took office as President of the RFU on the 14th July. Derek played No. 8 for England and was capped eight times in 1960 and ‘61. He captained the Penguins in Zambia in 1962 and has been a stalwart member of our committee for some 30 years - during which time he has been a prominent member of the RFU.

We have been very pleased to welcome to our ranks as Hon. Accountant, Stephen Herring BA (Econ)., A.C.A., A.T.I.I. - and as Hon. Solicitor, Ian MacDonald, who continues to referee in the Home Counties.

We would like to thank Andrew Thornhill QC for his services as Chairman of our charity, Penguin International Rugby Football Trust, which body has a programme to raise funds to support the educational aspects of the Club - namely our time-honoured tradition of providing coaching and refereeing seminars.

We welcome Sir Alistair Mackechnie, a notable New Zealander, who has kindly agreed also to serve as a Trustee of our charity.

We are pleased to welcome on to the Committee Gareth Rees, who played for the Club in 1994 when we had a dramatic victory over Samoa in the Final of the Malaysian International Tens. Gareth is well respected and known universally in rugby circles, having previously played for Oxford University and Wasps, and captained Canada. I am sure you will all wish to join me in congratulating Gareth on his subsequent appointment as Chief Executive Officer of Rugby Canada. Gareth has the distinction of being the only rugby player in the world to play in all four World Cups to date.

At last we have been able to open a friendly line to our immediate neighbours across the Channel, France, by the appointment of Florent (Flo) Rossigneux (Racing Club, Stade Francais, Wasps, Bedford, London Welsh). Florent has played for the Club on many occasions and has been an excellent tourist.

We would like to express our very great thanks to John Morgan, Phil Keith-Roach and Karl Svoboda, who have now retired from the committee whilst remaining Vice Presidents. We are indebted to them for all they have done to assist the Club’s advancement.

I am pleased to report that Ian Bullerwell, a director of Bedford Blues and a former member of the RFU’s Panel of International Referees, has become Hon. Chief Executive of the Club; and Craig Brown - who has played for the Club on more occasions than any other player and has captained the Club most successfully on many occasions, including winning both the Malaysian International Tens and the Italian International Sevens - has been appointed Hon. Fixture Secretary and Deputy Chief Executive. The writer is now Chairman.

I would, at this juncture, like to express my very great thanks to both Ian and Craig for the immense contribution they have made to the success of the Club in the last few years.

Finally, on behalf of all our members, I would like to thank our multi-talented Committee for their unstinting services to this great Corinthian club.

We were all greatly saddened in May last year by the unexpected death of Tony Jarman.

Tony was a most popular and staunch member of our Committee for some 12 years. In latter years, he managed our tours to Brazil and Chile in 1998, and to the Czech Republic and Poland in 1999. In addition, he served as Chairman of our Selection Committee, when we required a combined effort to take the place of Tony Mason’s great abilities in this field!

On a personal note, Tony Jarman, Tony Mason and the writer all played together for Sidcup in the early Fifties, and I cannot dispatch this Newsletter without saying that Tony was loved by the players and committee alike. He was a great personal friend, and my companion on many tours. Tony was wholly and absolutely an enthusiast of our great Club.

JUNE 2001

The highlight last year was the undertaking of our most ambitious tour to date. This embraced Europe and South America in the shape of Germany and Argentina, and brought about a departure from Heathrow of the biggest ever Penguin group to go abroad and play rugby. The reason for this was that there was a partial combination of the Fifteen-a-Side tour and our Sevens squad who played in the Grand Prix of Europe in Germany. No less than nine members of our Committee and two Vice Presidents accompanied the first part of the tour to Germany.

All the statistics of this highly successful tour can be found in the Fixture Card. However, the match against Germany was a special occasion to mark the gift of a new International rugby ground in Heidelberg to the German RU by Mrs. Bobbie Grunebaum in memory of her late husband, Fritz Grunebaum. Fritz was a great man in the rugby world, playing for the Harlequins in the early Thirties and subsequently moving to the United States where he became a most successful businessman and patron of the USA Rugby Union and the Boston Tournament. Fritz so loved rugby that on his death he was buried, as he had wished, in his Harlequins jersey. In passing, I would like to express my thanks to Bobbie for being such a great patron of this Club.

Our late, dear President, Bob Weighill, was a friend of both Fritz and Bobbie and it was through this friendship, and their close connection with the German RU, that this match came about.

The writer was pleased, when arranging the German leg of this tour, to find himself discussing details with the only Englishman to achieve high office in rugby circles in Germany, where the game has been played for some 150 years - Ian Rawcliffe, Chairman of the German Rugby Union.

Having played the German National XV on Saturday 2nd June, we competed in the Grand Prix of Europe (the 7th SAS International Sevens Tournament) the following day, which last year was won by Wales - and we won this Tournament in truly great style. The team was captained by Mike Friday, the England Sevens captain - who is to be congratulated on his appointment as Coach and Selector to the English National Sevens squad - and comprised six players from the Fifteen-a-Side touring party and four players who came specially to Germany to play in the Sevens - namely, in addition to Mike, Hamish Innes (Cambridge Univ.), Darren O’Leary (Gloucester) and Darragh O’Mahony (Saracens).

The tour had its ‘hairy’ moments - in particular the necessity of having a coach, with everyone’s luggage aboard, standing by at the gates of the ground in Heidelberg to take the Fifteen-a-Side touring party, as soon as the Sevens ended, to Frankfurt Airport to catch the ‘plane that night for Buenos Aires - full marks to Craig Brown!

Although the team practised the morning we arrived in Buenos Aires, and again the following day, we were able to enjoy some wonderfully warm and extremely kind hospitality. Receptions were held for us, firstly by the directors of HSBC Argentina - Mike Smith and Phil Martin - and then by the British Ambassador to Argentina, Sir Robin Christopher KBE CMG. All of the foregoing have been delighted to accept office as Vice Presidents of the Club.

The first match was played under floodlights against the first team to represent the Argentinean Navy, and our second match was against the five Combined Western Provinces of Argentina, reinforced with Internationals from Chile. This match took place 1000 miles from Buenos Aires, in Neuquen.

Sir Robin Christopher attended both the match versus the Argentinean Navy, and the supper which followed, and made a delightful speech after the traditional speeches and exchanges of shields by the writer and an Admiral of the Navy.

The President of the combined Argentinean side greeted us at Neuqeun airport on our arrival at noon on the Sunday, and in rather a bemused fashion squeezed the writer’s arm and said "Mr. Alan, you bring your own priest?". Ian Sinclair, having had a fine/punishment imposed on him by the "Court", had shaved his head and was attired in a monk’s habit - to be worn for 48 hours!

The Combined Western Provinces of Argentina had recently beaten Stade Francais, the champion club of France. They had been in camp for a number of days, awaiting our arrival with a view to giving us a hot reception, which we certainly received! It was an exciting and pressurised game, played in front of some 3,500 spectators who made their presence known whenever we took a kick by firing off guns and fireworks! With 10 minutes to go, we were losing 18:13, but we closed the gap with a good try from our pack at that point and succeeded in winning in the last three minutes with two very coolly taken penalties, awarded for off side by our opponents - the kicker being Filippo Fratti (Parma & Italy).

This victory was undoubtedly achieved by unity, team spirit and determination. It was a unique occasion as the team that played this match was comprised of 11 nationalities, including our first Tongan, Feki Latuselu, and our first Italian contingent - all of whom were excellent tourists.

The Fifteens team was ably captained by André Fox (Bedford, Natal, Junior Springboks), and the three officials who continued to Argentina were David Townsend, our excellent Liaison Officer; Craig Brown, Tour Manager (Players), who executed a thoroughly splendid job of leadership, and the writer, Tour Manager.

JUNE 2002

At relatively short notice, due to the postponement of our intended tour to China because their National team were attempting to qualify for the World Cup, our main tour this Summer was to the USA and Canada.

We were assisted in making a fixture with the New York Athletic Club (NYAC) by Nick Humphries (Manly, Cambridge Blue - now at Oxford University), our Committee representative for the USA. Nick, in past seasons, had played for NYAC who are in the USA Super League.

The actual fixture was against the NYAC Select XV, in order that they could reinforce their side with players from other clubs. The match, which took place at Travers Island where the NYAC have their country club, was played in a very good spirit, at a considerable pace, and was won by the Penguins 74:17.

Early the next morning, I received a ‘phone call from the Secretary of the Scottish RU requesting us to dispatch Eric Peters (past captain Cambridge Univ., Bath, Rotherham, Scotland) immediately to San Francisco to join the Scottish touring party for their match against the United States.

The touring party stayed at the NYAC, which had excellent facilities, and we were received in an extremely friendly fashion. Our thanks go to Jim Smyth, Chairman of NYAC RC, for all his unstinting help to make our visit to New York a success. For the record, three playing members of NYAC RC were killed in the Twin Towers tragedy.

The next match was played three days later, in the evening, at the Oakville RFC ground in Toronto against the Combined Clubs of Toronto - Toronto Renegades. The Renegades had won their three previous representative matches this season. It was a keenly contested encounter, with the score 14:7 in our favour at half-time. Due to the splendid work of our pack, and some fine running by our backs, we eventually won this hard-fought game 32:7. As has happened throughout our history, the touring party knitted together splendidly, and this match was won not only by skill but by determination and team spirit.

On the evening before our departure a coaching session was arranged through the good offices of Simon Walker, a director of HSBC Canada, with John Zimnoch of Toronto Nomads. This session was attended by the entire touring party, amongst whom were a number of qualified coaches, and approximately 120 boys, ladies and young men. The provision of coaching is, of course, one of the great traditions of this Club and it was a hugely successful occasion.

John Zimnoch has been kind enough to propose a Sports Scholarship in the form of inviting a Penguin player to Canada, at John’s expense, for the next two years both to coach and play in the major Sevens tournament. Simon Walker and John Zimnoch have subsequently been pleased to accept office as Vice Presidents of this Club.

The touring party included four former England U-21s, two past captains of Cambridge University, two Scottish Internationals, two members of the Australian National Sevens squad, and our first full French International, Patrice Collazo. It also included Shane Thompson, as a result of a goodwill invitation I extended to Rugby Canada. Shane has played for Canada and has captained the National Sevens’ squad. The tour was ably captained by Mark Denney, past captain of both Cambridge University and Wasps - assisted by Caine Elisara as vice captain (Parma & The Netherlands).

The USA leg of the tour was managed by Bill Calcraft, and the Canadian leg by the writer, with Craig Brown as our excellent Tour Manager (Players) throughout. We had first-class Liaison Officers, with Ian Bullerwell acting in this capacity in New York, and Hugh Thomas in Toronto.


In July, we accepted a kind invitation from the Thai RU to defend the title we won in 1999. The Tournament, embracing 16 nations, took place in Chiang Mai on the 7th & 8th December. We were billed as representing England.

This tour was very ably managed by Ian Bullerwell with the help of our great Tour Managers (Players), Bill Calcraft and Craig Brown.

The Fixture Card records that on our way to the Final we defeated the National Sevens teams of five nations. Then, in what was described in the International Rugby Board’s ‘World of Rugby’ magazine as the best match of the Tournament, we lost the Final in a close game to Fiji. Charlie Baxter, who was too badly injured to play in the Final, was nominated ‘Player of the Tournament’.

We are indebted to the Thai RU for their splendid administration and the kind hospitality they extended to us during our visit.

We made our fifth visit to the Malaysian Tens in September at the kind invitation of the Malaysian RU-COBRA Organising Committee, having won the Tournament in ‘93 and ‘94.

There were some great matches. Firstly we lost an extremely close game that could have gone either way, to our friends, the Fijian National team. Then we had a splendid victory against Samoa - but, ultimately, our very young team lost to Argentina in the Semi Finals.

Bill Calcraft was Tour Manager, with Craig Brown as Tour Manager (Players). David Townsend was Liaison Officer, and Tony Jarman and the writer assisted with the administration. The team was captained by Sailosi Nawavu (Fiji), past captain of the Fiji National team, who has played for the Club on many occasions, including being a member of the winning team in the Middlesex Sevens in 1999.

We have no wish to decline the great invitations we receive during the domestic League season. On the other hand, it is only possible for us to take a small representation from the UK because the players are, quite naturally and rightly, required by their clubs to fulfil League fixtures which are often on the very same day as these overseas tournaments.

We are fortunate in as much as we have always encouraged the young, outstanding players of the Commonwealth to play alongside our UK players, and it is as a result of these friendships that we have been able to fulfil most of these invitations .

1 Wednesday 2 October v British Universities (Iffley Road) ko: 18.30 hrs
2 Wednesday 6 November v Cambridge University (Grange Rd) ko: 19.30 hrs
3 Wednesday 19 February v Oxford University (Iffley Road) ko: 19.30 hrs
4 June 8th & 9th Grand Prix of Europe (Heidelberg)
5 June (date tbc) 2nd tour to the People’s Republic of China

As I draft these notes, I have just received word that our original invitation from the RFU for 2nd Wednesday 2nd October 2002, to play England Students, has now been upgraded to a fixture versus British Universities (England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales) - at Iffley Road.

This match has been arranged to mark the Presidency of the RFU by Derek Morgan, where it has been considered by the RFU Students Committee that playing the Penguins is a fitting tribute to this great man in recognition of the hugh amount of work he has undertaken in regard to these two bodies - namely England Students and this Club.

Derek expressed a wish to see a revival of the British Universities (Representative) XV, and this will be the first occasion that they have played for over 10 years.

We greatly value our association with Oxford University and Cambridge University, and our friendship with them, both on and off the field, has continued for nearly quarter of a century.

Each year, Tony Rodgers at Cambridge and Steve Hill at Oxford produce well drilled, talented and finely disciplined squads, and as the years go by, bearing in mind that in the amateur days we played the Past and Present XVs of these Universities, it is increasingly difficult to assemble teams by invitation to provide the two Universities with well contested games. However, I am glad to say that with the help of our Selection Committee and the excellent managership of Ian Bullerwell, we have been able to field teams which have produced exciting and well contested matches.

We have also been pleased to play Bedford Blues in 2001 / 2002 in the Bruce Willey Memorial Match. Ian Bullerwell and Bruce Willey worked harmoniously together on the committee of this club for many years.

The highlight of this period was the great achievement by the Club in winning the Middlesex Charity Sevens back to back - i.e. in 1999 and 2000. It is to be appreciated that with the 12 Premiership clubs being invited to participate in the Finals, it left our committee with little or no choice other than to rely on assistance from the Commonwealth to produce a team that could honour and do justice to the invitation.

Accordingly, selection was the key note and helped by the able skills of Bill Calcraft, we assembled a team in 2000 that included, for the first time, the two greatest exponents of Sevens skills - namely, Eric Rush, the great All Black and New Zealand 7's captain, and Waisale Serevi, the greatest back ever to play the Sevens game. Eric remarked during his speech at the the post-Tournament celebrations that he had spent 13 years chasing Waisale. They had previously always played against each other, never in the same team.

Our team won in great style and for the second year running the game was featured on BBC TV.

In passing, our squad was full of captains! Caine Elisara, the brilliant ball handler, captain of Netherland 7's; Cameron Pither, the highly regarded captain of Australia 7's; Eric Rush, NZ 7's; and Waisale Serevi, Fiji 7's. Fred Asselin, who played for us in Thailand, is, I believe, the only player ever to score three tries against Fiji which he did in the last Commonwealth Games.

In conclusion, I would like to extend our very great thanks to Derek Mann, Charles Hogbin and the Committee of the Middlesex Sevens for their invitations to us for the years 1999 and 2000, and for the very kind help they gave us at all times.

In answer to questions that have been put to me, I would like to record that this wonderful invitation was extended to us as a Club by invitation for two years only - win or lose - completely in line with past and current policy of the Middlesex Sevens Committee in relation to Clubs by invitation.

We are very proud of our association and friendship with HSBC, one of the greatest banking houses in the world, operating in 81 countries and territories.

HSBC have been kind enough to sponsor our last six major Summer Tours, which are of course the main annual event of the Club’s programme, and we would like to extend our very grateful thanks to them for their sponsorship.

The tours these last six years have been:

1997 : 1st HSBC tour - Czech Republic & Hungary
1998 : 2nd HSBC tour - Brazil & Chile
1999 : 3rd HSBC tour - Czech Republic & Poland
2000 : 4th HSBC tour - People’s Republic of China
2001 : 5th HSBC tour - Germany & Argentina
2002 : 6th HSBC tour - USA & Canada

In many of the countries where we have toured, we have received tremendous hospitality and considerable help from the directors of HSBC - e.g. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, the Czech Republic and Poland.

Finally, it is my pleasure to announce that HSBC will be the Club’s official sponsor for the prestigious fixture v British Universities in October this year, and we are once again indebted to them for their great help to this Club.

We are proud of our continuing association with HSBC, and are very pleased that Richard Bennett, a director of the company, has accepted the office of Patron of Penguin International RFC.

I am delighted to announce that this will again take place at our traditional venue, the Dorchester Hotel, Park Lane.

The final cost per head has yet to be determined, but it will be very much in line with former years.

The Dinner will be managed jointly by Paul Selway-Swift (140 Brompton Road, 5th floor, London SW3 1HY Tel: 020 7584 3333 / Fax: 020 7584 7933) and Hugh Thomas (The Chase, 6, Cherry Orchard Road, Lisvane, Cardiff CF14 0UD Tel: 029 2075 9752 / Fax: 029 2076 3817).

Most of the tables will be for 12 persons but undoubtedly there will be some tables of 10.

As you know, our Dinners are held at five-yearly intervals and have proved over the years to be one of the most popular rugby social occasions in the calendar.

I very much hope that members who wish to take a table or host a table will make early reservations with either Paul or Hugh for this special occasion - which, in accordance with tradition, will be a "black tie" and men only evening.

The Committee has resolved that in future the playing membership (both past and present) will be recorded, probably in the Fixture Card, and an annual lunch will be arranged in London.

Ian Bullerwell and Craig Brown will administer this section of the Club and their details are given below.

Ian M. Bullerwell
Duncombe Heights
Avenue Farm Lane
MK44 2PY
Tel: 01234 771 419
Fax: 01234 772 596

Craig S. Brown
Flat 2/L
63 St. Vincent Crescent
G3 8NQ
Tel (W): 0141 335 2452
Tel (H): 0141 579 8956
Fax (H): 0141 587 6125

The Committee of this Club is fully cogniscent of how crowded the Fixture List is becoming, and the pressure it puts on our most able players - hence our resolve to limit, in the best interests of the players, their clubs and the game itself, the number of home matches we play.

It is our intention to endeavour to continue our much-loved fixtures with both Oxford and Cambridge.

In regard to touring, because of the extended season in the four home countries, particularly England, the only month of the year in which it is possible to contemplate our traditional main Fifteen-a-Side tour is June.

I know you will appreciate from this that selection of players is the key ingredient for the Club’s success. This is enhanced by the reputation we enjoy with members of our past happy and successful touring parties, added to which we have built up strong ties with Australia, through Bill Calcraft; New Zealand, through both Bill and Craig Brown; and Fiji, through Richard Breen; to name but a few.

The game has now been professional for many years and we enjoy very good relations with a large number of the principal clubs in the UK. However, our Committee appreciates that virtually all players now are contracted, and although an individual player might wish to play for the Club it is essential for him to obtain official consent from his club to do this - i.e. the player is an "asset" of the club to which he is contracted. The amateur days are long gone although we do still have a fair number of amateurs playing for us, namely men from our universities.

Our Corinthian ethos continues and we endeavour to ensure that goodwill, care of the players and first-class insurance is always in place.

The objectives of the Club are set out in the Fixture Card, but the Club has always put rugby first on its tours - i.e. we tour to win our matches. In this respect, I am sure you will all be interested to know that the current rugby player is an extremely well disciplined sportsman, who wishes to train and practice without being urged. Additionally, on pre-match days it is a tradition of the Club that everyone takes supper together, generally eating Italian food - during that day, by choice, no alcohol is imbibed. Of course, after the match everything changes !!

It is to be appreciated that in regard to Sevens and Tens Tournaments in foreign countries, within the confines of our season, which now lasts - including pre-training - for almost 11 months, it is only possible for us to field a squad which includes players from both here and the Commonwealth - this reflects the change in the name of the Club some four years ago. In many parts of the world it is still not appreciated how much the game has changed in the British Isles and Ireland.

Through the efforts of the Committee, the Club has endeavoured to move with the changing times, and we are proud to be not only the most travelled rugby club in the World, but also the most travelled sports club in the World, having played in, or against teams from, no less than 56 countries.

Since the dawn of professionalism, players seem more keen than ever to be selected by a ‘Club by invitation’, and to have the opportunity, which seldom occurs unless you represent your country, of playing alongside those you have competed against.

Our objective continues unchanged, namely to foster the growth, goodwill and camaraderie of the game of Rugby Union throughout the world. As part of this, on most of our tours we have endeavoured to provide coaching to young players in the countries visited, and at the same time, at the expense of the Club, we have taken a referee - preferably from the RFU’s Panel of International Referees - not only to referee, but also to provide seminars on the application of the laws. In short, we have endeavoured to couple the fostering of the game with its very necessary educational aspects.

I would like to record that we shall be very pleased to received proposals for new members from Vice President who wishes to put forward a relative or a friend.

In the first instance, I should be pleased if you would write either to me or direct to Derek Harris, Hon. Membership & PR Secretary (see ‘Ticket Bureau’ for Derek’s address details).

New members will be warmly welcomed and will be entitled to wear the Club tie, attend home matches, join the Ticket Bureau, and receive the annual Newsletter.

This Club is unique as, to the best of our knowledge, we are the only club in the world that does not have a subscription. By tradition, we have relied for 43 years on the generosity of our members to support the Club by voluntary donations.

Tickets for International matches are allocated to Rugby Union clubs not, as was the case a few years ago, on the amount of finance to be forwarded for the tickets but on the basis of the numerical strength of the membership.

We have run an active Ticket Bureau for many years, and any member wishing to join should write to:

D.P.C. Harris
Hon. Membership & PR Secretary
Penguin International RFC
Potters Cottage
Church Lane
Tel: 01883 742 568
Fax: 01883 744 816

We have received wonderful support from HSBC who have supported Rugby Union for a very long time, including their joint sponsorship of the Hong Kong Sevens for so many years.

Their sponsorship of this Club has enabled us to continue with our principal activity, namely the main Summer Tour. However, we are woefully short of money to provide for the remainder of our extensive programme,and our finances are run on a shoestring.

A letter requesting donations is attached hereto and we would be most appreciative of donations in this year, 2002, from all our members, to assist in our promotion of this great game.


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Jack Speak
Community Group
Jack Speak
Community Group