GRAND OLD RUGBY HISTORY
For years, and in some cases many, many years, over 35 throughout Europe, have played Rugby under various names, Old Boys, Old Crocks, Buffties etc but the first Official World Golden Oldies Rugby Festival took place in Auckland in 1979, organised by former New Zealand Player, Tom Johnson, and they have been organised every two years since, alternating from Southern to Northern Hemisphere, by Air New Zealand. A World Committee was created to facilitate the spread of Golden Oldies Rugby.
The European Representative on the World Grand Old Rugby Committee and the man responsible for the development of Golden Oldies Rugby in Europe, was Jeff Butterfield, considered to have been one of the most gifted Centres to have played Rugby for England, who began his senior rugby career with Northampton Saints and played for them 227 times.
In addition to his duties at Northampton he also played 54 times for Yorkshire and captained them in two County Championship finals, in 1953 and 1957. Jeff Butterfield was first capped by England in 1953 against France and he played for England for 6 years, including 28 successive matches in his final season he was captain.
Butterfield became England’s most capped back, and on his watch, England won the Five Nations’ Championship four times, the Triple Crown twice and a Grand Slam.
As well as playing for Northampton and England, Butterfield is celebrated for his play on the 1955 British Lions tour to South Africa where he scored tries in three of the four test matches. He later toured with the Lions in New Zealand in 1959 but here he was plagued by an injury and was unable to play in any of the matches.
The first European Community
Grand Old Rugby Festival
The first European Festival
took place in 1992
The first European Festival took place in Hertogenbosch, in Holland in 1992 when Teams from 8 countries took part. The European tradition had begun thanks to the local organisers from Dutch Exiles led by David Haynes.
They introduced the Battered Relic Trophy at this first ever Festival and since then, this Trophy is awarded to the Team showing the most Grand Old Rugby Spirit during the Festival - on and off the field.
In David’s words: “When I was looking for a prize for the Festival I first went to look for the normal shields, plates and cups, but I did not think this was the spirit of the Festival, so I decided to look for something old and maybe chipped and damaged. I spent about 4 hours walking around the city looking at second hand and antique shops when I came across the can! It was just like old rugby players: it was bright, just like most of us; it had seen better days, who hasn’t; it was dented, just like many old players feel after a good hard game. Somebody tried to solder and repair the can in places and many Golden Oldies Players have been patched up over the years. It was in my opinion the perfect symbol for an Oldies Rugby Festival.”
Saturday 6th December, 2003 was a very important day
Saturday 6th December, 2003 was a very important day in the History of the European Golden Oldies Rugby Movement, with the acceptance of mutual Terms of Agreement, when President – Dave McDonald was invited to the Annual Conference of F.I.R.A. / A.E.R. being held in Paris.
The Agreement means that the European Golden Oldies Rugby Organization is recognized as a key partner of F.I.R.A. / A.E.R. and the Official Organization for Golden Oldies Rugby in Europe and we have a Link on their Website, to EGOR. www.fira-aer-rugby.com
Since then, our Membership has grown from strength to strength and at present, Grand Old Rugby is played all over Europe, with dozens of Countries involved. The Grand Old Rugby Committee, all Volunteers, represent several Countries….. Czech Republic, Portugal, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Switzerland…and Scotland.