Penguins | Sunday 1st June 2008 0:00am
We are pleased to enclose the new Fixture Card 2007-2008, and trust the following observations will be of interest.
On the Home front, we have now had the pleasure of playing Oxford University and Cambridge University for 28 years. These fixtures were originally the Club versus Past & Present XVs but this was adjusted when professionalism commenced.
In the past we have been more than happy to assist charities and clubs to celebrate special occasions, but this has become very difficult in the professional era. Nevertheless, in March this year we played Sidcup RFC for their 125th Anniversary, having played them 25 years ago for their Centenary. Both matches were won and, strange to relate, the score in 1983 was 44:22, and this year 48:24. Our team was drawn principally from Oxford University, Cambridge University and Blackheath, all of whom have shown us great friendship.
In May, we played Bedford Athletic RFC to celebrate their Centenary, having 38 years ago played them to celebrate the opening of their new clubhouse. Amongst those who played for us that day was Peter Yarranton, our past President and past President of the RFU. Our squad included strong representation from Bedford Blues and Rugby Lions. This was a high-scoring match - Penguins 67: Bedford Athletic 43.
It is interesting to note that in 49 years, the Club has only drawn two matches - the first versus Bermuda in 1982, and the second in 2007 versus the Falklands Task Force XV (Combined Services).
The Hong Kong Sevens week is considered to be the principal and most popular occasion in the world as it now also features a very strong Tens competition, thus providing five continuous days of quality rugby in the abbreviated form.
We were pleased to be invited to play in the Hong Kong International Tens, and for the second year running we lost to the excellent NZ Metros from Auckland in the Final, having won our way there by winning three very hard-fought matches.
Hot off the press is our European experience - i.e. our fourth visit to Italy, to participate for the first time in the Rome International Sevens. On our three previous visits, we were finalists in the Italian RFU's Sevens in 1991, and winners in 1993 and 1994. This year we won all our Pool matches, the most memorable feature being a convincing win against the British Army, whose current selection is bolstered by numerous Fijian Internationals serving in the Army. We went on to win our quarter-final in a breathtaking match in sudden-death extra time versus Marauders, but lost the semi-final in the last 2/3 minutes to a very fine Stellenbosch University team, winners in 2006. However, a strange feature of the tournament was that the British Army made a strong recovery from the lost Pool match to win the Final by defeating Stellenbosch!
Once again, this year we shall play in the Malaysian RU-COBRA Tens tournament in Kuala Lumpur (November 1st & 2nd), followed by a second visit to the Borneo Tens (November 8th & 9th).
In 2009, two special matches have been agreed, with dates and details yet to be confirmed. The first versus a combined Oxford and Cambridge Universities XV, and the second versus Parliament (House of Lords/House of Commons) under Golden Oldies rules.
Under the direction of Craig Brown, the HSBC / Penguin Coaching Academy has had a busy year with programmes in Malaysia, Hong Kong, China and Guam, one of the loneliest outposts of Rugby Union in the world. A further visit to Malaysia is planned later in the year. The programme in China included providing special coaching to the PLA (People's Liberation Army), the strongest club in the People's Republic.
This summer the Academy has been invited to assist in a school festival in Ireland, sponsored by HSBC.
An exciting prospect for 2009 will be the invitation extended to the Coaching Academy to visit South Africa in conjunction with HSBC, our sponsors, and the British & Irish Lions to carry out a coaching programme from a base in Cape Town. We also expect to play in a Sevens tournament.
Selection and the direction of the Club's rugby and coaching continues successfully in the safe and competent hands of Craig Brown.
On behalf of the committee, we would like to specially thank Iain Sinclair (Watsonians and past Penguin tourist) for managing the tour to the Orkney Isles in 2007 (where Craig Brown was a player!): David Harris (an eminent member of Watsonians and their Sevens coach) for managing our tour this year to Rome: Steve Hill (a former Sidcup player and Director of Rugby, Oxford University) who managed very ably the match versus Sidcup. We were particularly pleased that Steve was able to select the current Oxbridge captains for inclusion in our team: Ian Bullerwell, who selected and managed the match versus Bedford Athletic in addition to managing the matches versus Oxford and Cambridge: Tony Hanks (formerly of Wasps, now coach to Waikato) for coaching our Tens team in Hong Kong this year: John McKittrick (past Sevens coach to the USA and the Cook Islands) who travelled from North Harbour, Auckland, to coach our team in Rome this month.
We would like to congratulate our sponsors, the great banking house of HSBC, on their appointment as the principal partner of the British and Irish Lions in 2009, and, at the same time, to express our deep appreciation of the interest and great help they have provided to this Club on a worldwide basis.
The committee wish to extend their thanks to the Trustees, headed by Andrew Thornhill QC, and to Vincent Bramhall for their able administration.
The charity will be making its own request for donations.
Your continued financial support is very much appreciated. As you know, the Penguins are generously supported by HSBC. Nevertheless, we continue to rely heavily upon our members' contributions to cover our extensive playing and coaching plans.
Enclosed herewith is the Annual Subscription letter we wish you to send to the Hon. Treasurer with an appropriate cheque (for Hon. VPs this is at their discretion). If you have paid this year, kindly ignore this request - however, your email address would be welcolmed.
To celebrate Penguin International RFC's 50th Anniversary, Alan Wright is inviting Dick Tyson, an eminent author on Rugby Union, to write a history - with Alan's help - of the Club.
Dick Tyson is the author of a recently published, excellent book 'London's Oldest Rugby Clubs'.
If you have an anecdotes and/or photos which might assist, please write to Alan.
In conclusion, on a happy note may we urge members to consider attending our matches at home, and to accompany our foreign tours.
If you are interested in seeing the Penguins play abroad, please communicate direct with Craig Brown:
Alan Wright & Tom Wacker