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2003/2004 News Letter

Penguins | Saturday 1st May 2004 0:00am

Editor: A.G.L. Wright

Season 2003 / 2004

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

The Committee recognises that the very essence of a happy 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.

Coaching has always been a prominent part of this Club’s ethos, and this aspect is growing in significance, hence the special reference to it in this Newsletter.

This year was tinged with huge sadness owing to the deaths of our Life President and President (which I was able to advise you of on 29th July), and notable Vice Presidents.

As is generally known, Tony Mason and I were close friends for some 55 years, and founded this Club 45 years ago. For most of the first 37 years of the Club’s existence we spoke almost on a daily basis at the telephone, and travelled the world together on tour.

I was proud to be invited by his family to make the Address at his Memorial Service, which was attended inter alia by Richard Bennett, Patron of the Club; Robert Horner, President of the Rugby Football Union; Alan Grimsdell, President of the RFU1986/87; and Mike Newsom, President of Kent County RFU.

Four days before Tony’s death, Kent County RFU during the course of their AGM appointed Tony and the writer to the office of Vice President, in recognition of our work for the game on a worldwide basis and our contribution to rugby in Kent. He will be greatly missed. One of the greatest tributes to Tony was received from the President of the Czech Rugby Union who expressed his condolences at the passing of “this knight of worldwide rugby....”.

We have also mourned the passing of Sir Peter Yarranton - a great England player and President of the Wasps, the RFU and this Club. Peter played for the Club on tour in Bermuda, prior to joining the Committee some 30 years ago.

Peter’s Memorial Service, held at the RAF church, St. Clement Danes in the Strand, was attended by a very large number of his friends, and a wonderful Address was given by Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Knight KCB AFC FRAeS (a distinguished Vice President of this Club).

Many of the Committee were in Malaysia at the time of the Memorial Service, at which the Club was represented by Derek Harris.

We were sad to learn of the death of Sir Denis Thatcher Bt MBE TD , who, in addition to being a rugby referee, was a wonderful supporter of this Club and a Vice President for many years.

At his Memorial Service in the Guards Chapel, the Club was represented by Julian Lamden, Hon. Treasurer, and the writer.

We were very sad to learn of the death in September last of Bobbie Gmuender (Grunebaum) - a great lady, who was a generous benefactor to this Club, and to the German Rugby Union to which she presented an International Rugby Ground on which we were invited to play the inaugural match versus Germany in 2001, in celebration of this gift.

Bobbie’s husband, Sepp, is a Vice President, and I know that everyone on that tour to Germany will wish to join me in sending him our condolences.

We are proud and pleased to congratulate Sir William Purves, CBE, DSO on becoming President of the Club. Willie, as he likes to be known, was a member of the main committee of the Scottish Rugby Union. He was the only National Service officer to be awarded the DSO in the Korean War; and has a worldwide reputation as probably the most accomplished and distinguished British banker of the 20th century.

We are also glad that our ranks have been swelled by the Hon. General Secretary of Kent County RFU, Mike Cordell, becoming Hon. Secretary of this Club. Mike follows John Morgan (our first Treasurer) as the second Askean to join our Committee. In addition to being a former player, Mike is dedicated to Rugby Union and is an A1 administrator.

We also welcome the appointment of our first American committee member, Tom Wacker, who has undertaken responsibility as Hon. PR & Media Secretary. Tom’s great career included his appointment as Chief Executive Officer of the International Rugby Board 1996/97

We are delighted to have been further strengthened by the following appointments:

John Breen, who has joined his son Richard as our representatives in Fiji. We are proud through them to have such a close and friendly relationship with Fiji - many excellent Fijian players have toured with us worldwide.

Brian Cusack (Lansdowne), a former captain of the Club, will henceforth represent us in Ireland.

We are very proud to announce that Gordon Tietjens, the eminent coach and director of NZ Sevens, has, after many years of assisting us, agreed to represent us in New Zealand.

In the USA, where we had a happy tour in 2002, Jim Smyth, the well known and extremely well liked President of the New York Athletic Club (NYAC) RFC, is now our USA representative and becomes the second American to join the committee of this Club.

In Canada, Gareth Rees has been joined by John Zimnoch, who is held in high esteem around the world and is a great man of rugby. John assisted this Club on its recent tour to Canada, and we are now excellently represented both the East and West of this great country.

Our Selection Committee has been hugely strengthened by two former players, firstly Mike Friday (Rosslyn Park / Wasps), a former captain and now coach to England Sevens; and secondly, by Ross Reynolds, a great Wallaby, who played for us in Hong Kong in 1988 and has now become the skilful manager of Orrell.

Finally, I am pleased to report that Ian Peck, Treasurer of Cambridge URUFC, and Steve Hill, Director of Rugby, Oxford URFC, have both accepted invitations to join our committee. All parties very much hope that this will strengthen the long-standing ties of friendship and goodwill that exist between these three amateur clubs.

I would report that the following gentlemen, who have served this Club well for so many years, have been thanked for their services and have now retired from the committee:

Richard Kinsey a great captain of the Club, with the proud record of the Club being unbeaten under his proficient leadership
Mickey Quinn an inspirational leader and captain of the Penguins tours to Sri Lanka 1979 and Bermuda 1986 (capped 12 times for Ireland)
Peter Whitelaw represented the Club on numerous tours. A great player for Heriots FP, and our Scottish Committee member for many years
Mike Williams the well known Blackheath (‘The Club’) player, and for many years Adviser to the Portuguese RU. He has assisted the Club in its friendship with the Portuguese RU.

We continue to plan not only for the present but also for the future, and I am delighted to record that the following changes have been made. This places the playing side of the Club in very safe hands.

Craig Brown Director of Rugby / Hon. Fixture Secretary (Overseas)
Ian Bullerwell Team Manager / Hon. Fixture Secretary (UK)


We were greatly honoured to be invited to play the Hong Kong RFU in a special match to commemorate their 50th anniversary. Unfortunately, the SARS epidemic intervened and regretfully both parties agreed that it was prudent to postpone this fixture, which has now been scheduled for June 2004.

This is the first time since the Club’s foundation that a health problem has forced us to cancel our major Summer Tour.


This Tournament was revived after being cancelled two years’ running due to economic conditions, and we were invited to make a return visit to play in this Tournament (see Fixture Card).

Managed one again by Craig Brown, it was a very happy tour, apart from one serious factor - namely, Caine Elisara, one of our great forwards, was struck down with an undiagnosed illness, thus disrupting our selection at a critical moment.

We have now competed in this great Tournament, probably the strongest Ten-a-Sides Tournament in the world, on no less than six occasions - winning twice, versus Fiji and Samoa; Semi-Finalists twice; and Quarter-Finalists twice.

We were very pleased indeed to have on tour as our coach, John McKittrick (North Harbour), one of New Zealand’s finest coaches, who has coached not only North Harbour but the USA and Cook Islands Sevens.

The Club has a very ambitious programme once again for next year - tours to two Continents!

Firstly, a visit to Hong Kong to play the postponed 50th anniversary match v Hong Kong RFU.

Secondly, to make the first ever tour by a European team to Mexico, for the specific purpose of assisting Mexico in the growth of the game in their country, with particular emphasis on coaching. We hope and expect to take on this tour a larger than usual complement of young players from the UK.

Craig Brown, Director of Rugby, will be Tour Manager for both tours. The dates of the tours and fixtures are in the Fixture Card.

We have been invited to return to the People’s Republic of China, with whom we have very good relations, and are hoping to do so in 2005.

The great event of 2002 was, of course, the match played v British Universities to celebrate Derek Morgan’s Presidency of the RFU.

Derek has been a member of our committee for nigh on 30 years, and as well as touring with us, captained our tour to Zambia in 1972.

The official records shows that Derek (Medicals, Newcastle) played for England in 1960 on four occasions, and in 1961 on five occasions, including South Africa that year.

Originally, this match was to be against England Students, but Derek decided to revive the British Universities representative team, which last played some 30 years ago. The match was played at Iffley Road, Oxford, and we would like to express our thanks to our very good friends, Oxford URFC, for all the help and kindness they gave to this Club to stage this special match.

It was pleasing that our team included the then captains of Oxford, John Allen, and Cambridge, Stu Eru.

It was an excellent game, played in the very best spirit, and strangely enough there was no scrum for the first 12 minutes. The outstanding feature of the match was the winning of good ball by our forwards which enabled some first class tries to be scored from the wing, with Will Rubie scoring on three occasions. The match was won by the Club and the teams and scores are recorded in the Fixture Card.

This special day commenced with a combined RFU/Penguin lunch at which the speakers were Sir Peter Yarranton, our late President; Bob Reeves, Chairman of the Students RFU and Director of Sport at Bristol University; and Derek Morgan. Sadly, this was the last match attended by Tony Mason.

The match was specially sponsored by HSBC, and through this we were able to assemble a strong side drawn from five nations, in honour of Derek’s special year.

Unfortunately, for only the third time in 25 years, our match against Oxford University had to be cancelled on the day of the match as the pitch remained frozen.

Once again, a wonderful game was played against Cambridge, and in an intensely close match the University won by one point, kicking a penalty that was virtually the last kick of the game.

Please see the Fixture Card for the dates of these matches.

Ian Bullerwell will once again be the Club’s Match Manager for both these occasions.

Since the formation of this Club some 45 years ago, in addition to playing we have had a particular regard to the provision of coaching on our foreign tours wherever the opportunity arose to assist our hosts in the development of the game.

In recent years, we have held very large coaching sessions in Shanghai (2000) and Toronto (2002), and in 2003 a very successful coaching session was arranged for some 125 schoolboys in Kuala Lumpur.

Additionally, for many years we have taken with us on tour a first-class referee from one of the four home countries, not only to referee matches, with the agreement of the home Unions, but to provide seminars for the home referees.

One of the principal features of our coaching programme last year was to respond to an invitation from John Zimnoch to send a coaching team, with his assistance, to his club Toronto Nomads. Craig Brown, our Director of Rugby, took this responsibility upon himself in company with Caine Elisara (Treviso, Holland), and Shane Thompson (Montreal Barbarians, Canada 7's, Canada), who have both represented this Club on our tours. The coaching sessions were held on a number of days for very large numbers of players, after which the Toronto Nomads, with the playing assistance of Caine, Shane and Craig, won the No.1 Sevens Tournament in Eastern Canada! We received a complimentary note concerning this from Gareth Rees, the then CEO of Rugby Canada.

In the proud spirit of amateurism, Craig was sponsored in the Paris Marathon and provided a substantial donation to our charity which more than covered the cost of his airfare to Canada.

In order to extend our coaching tradition and experience, we have founded the HSBC/PIRFC Rugby Coaching Academy. In 2004, we plan to go to China from Hong Kong to provide an extensive coaching session. The tour to Mexico will be accompanied by no less than four first-class coaches, and plans for many coaching sessions there are underway. The tours to both countries will also include well-known referees who will provide seminars in addition to their refereeing duties.

It is our pleasure, once again, to thank the great banking house of HSBC, which has sponsored our major tours for the last seven years. HSBC is now the largest bank quoted on the London Stock Exchange; the largest bank in Europe; and the second largest bank in the world, operating in 81 countries and territories.

We are very proud of our association with HSBC, and would again like to extend our very grateful thanks to them for their sponsorship.

The Tours in the last seven years have been as follows:

1997 : 1st HSBC tour - Czech Republic, Hungary & Singapore
1998 : 2nd HSBC tour - Brazil, Chile & Singapore
1999 : 3rd HSBC tour - Czech Republic & Poland
2000 : 4th HSBC tour - China & Malaysia
2001 : 5th HSBC tour - Germany & Argentina
2002 : 6th HSBC tour - USA & Canada
2003 : 7th HSBC tour - Malaysia

We have had tremendous help from the bank in the countries we have toured, including hospitality extended to the touring parties by the bank’s overseas directors.

We also wish to record our very special thanks to HSBC for the additional sponsorship they provided to the Club for the President’s Match last year, which enabled us - bearing in mind the League season - to assemble a really fine side, enhanced by young players from the Commonwealth countries, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

Richard Bennett (Group General Manager, Legal & Compliance, HSBC) is, of course, the Patron of the Club.

As announced in our last Newsletter, this special Dinner will again take place at our traditional venue, the Dorchester Hotel, Park Lane, London W1.

The cost has now been determined at £100 per head. This is a relatively small increase on the price of £85 in 1999.

The Dinner is being managed jointly by Paul Selway-Swift and Hugh Thomas, whose details are as follows:

Paul Selway-Swift
Flat 2
55 Cadogan Gardens
Mobile: 07970 523 433
Tel: 020 7584 5348
e-mail: paul@selway-swift.com

H. Hugh Thomas
The Chase
6, Cherry Orchard Road
Cardiff CF14 0UD
Mobile: 07785 340 581
Tel: 02920 759 752
e-mail: hhughthomas@hotmail.co

A first-class team of speakers has been arranged, and the Presidents of the Rugby Football Union, Scottish Rugby Union and Welsh Rugby Union will be in attendance, together with a number of Ambassadors from countries where have toured.

The details of the Dinner were provided in the last Newsletter and I am pleased to say that our Vice Presidents have reserved all the tables.

I would once again remind members that this Dinner is, by tradition, a Black Tie occasion - for MEN ONLY!

The Club membership continues to grow and we will, of course, welcome proposals from committee members and Vice Presidents as to rugby-loving gentlemen who would like to support this special Club and will be proud to wear our tie.

The committee has resolved that the minimum donation per member will be £50 per calendar year, in order to meet the ever-increasing costs of running this prestigious Club. Our sponsors generously provide for the cost of the major worldwide Summer Tour, but the costs of other matches, including travel, insurance, etc., continue to increase.

An appropriate letter for return to the Hon. Treasurer is attached hereto.


    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 direct to:

    Derek P.C. Harris
    Hon. Secretary - Int’l Ticket Bureau
    Penguin International RFC
    Potters Cottage
    Church Lane
    RH9 8BW
    Tel: 01883 742 568
    Fax: 01883 744 816


    Enclosed herewith is a card from The Peasant Restaurant / Bar.

    The Peasant is a Committee venue for dining, and it has received two tremendous accolades from both ‘Time Out’ and The Guardian, which voted it one of the best 150 gastro-pubs in Gt. Britain and Ireland.

    The owners, Vice Presidents G.A.F. (Greg) Wright and P.A.L. (Paddy) Wright wish to extend a welcome to all Penguin members who, if they lunch or dine on either the Ground Floor or in the First Floor restaurant, will receive a 15% discount for themselves and their guests, including wines and spirits.

The policy of the Club will be to continue to assist the game to grow worldwide, and at risk of reiteration, we hope to have a stronger emphasis on our Coaching Academy to assist in spreading the skills of the game around the world.

We are proud to have a committee drawn from no less than 14 rugby-playing nations, and we shall continue our policy of selecting young men to represent the Club not only from the four home Unions but also the rest of the world, with an emphasis on the Commonwealth countries with which we enjoy such great friendships.

This last fortnight has seen the Club make an excellent start to the season.
In a game that was unamimously voted one of the finest matches of the 25-year series, Penguins played Oxford on the 18th February last. In this pulsating and exciting match the score at half time was 8:8. With five minutes to go in the second half the score was 13:13! In this closely contested encounter the Club then scored two tries and this excellent game was won 27:13.
On March 3rd, the annual fixture versus Cambridge University was played under floodlights, as usual, and resulted in a fine win for the Club 68:17. This was one of the finest performances we have given at Cambridge in the last quarter-of-a-century. Our teamwork, and in particular the giving and taking of passes, and running, was of the highest standard - for which we were complimented by Tony Rodgers, the renowned Cambridge coach.


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Jack Speak
Community Group
Jack Speak
Community Group