After a year like no other, the final chapter of the Sydney University Football Club’s 2013 Rugby season is about to be played out, with the Club embarking on a 23 day tour of the UK and Ireland.
When the clock ticked over to 1 January 2013, the Sydney University Football Club (SUFC) joined an exclusive list of only 8 Rugby Clubs around the world who have reached their 150th Anniversary year, the other 7 being all overseas based Club’s, namely Guy’s Rugby Club (founded in 1843), Dublin University (1854), Edinburgh Academicals (1857), Liverpool (1857), Blackheath (1858), Richmond (1861) and Sale (1861).
To celebrate the remarkable milestone of 150 years of Rugby excellence at Sydney University, SUFC president David Mortimer AO and Head Coach Chris Malone proposed the idea of a tour to the playing group over 12 months ago. International Rugby Tours have formed a long part of the Club’s history, and have helped give great experiences to generation upon generation of Sydney University representatives. “In my mind, the goal of any tour has always been to provide our young men with the opportunity to visit traditions of the past and provide them with unique experiences to grow and become future leaders in life”, said SUFC President David Mortimer AO “During our milestone year, this will be an exciting tour for our playing group which I believe fits in nicely with our Club’s pursuit of academic and sporting achievement”.
Wind the clock forward and after many months of planning and securing much needed funding (all done by the playing group themselves), on a warm spring evening in late October 2013 the touring party held an official function where Club officials, supporters, friends and family were able to celebrate the significance of the occasion, share past touring stories and wish the players every success overseas. Amongst the guests on the night were none other than SUFC record game holder, Rupert Rosenblum as well as Club legends Nick Farr-Jones and Peter Fitzsimons, all former Wallabies and the holders of many touring stories.
Rupert Rosenblum relived memories of the wonderful experience he had touring with his SUFC teammates to the United States in early 1970, which included meeting legendary US Basketballer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. World Cup winning captain Nick Farr-Jones shared stories of some lifetime bonds formed amongst players overseas and with his trademark bandana, Peter Fitzsimons spoke of his experiences touring around France and his love of the “third half”, a commonly used expression in French rugby referring to the post match socialising with opponents.
The players were treated to some wonderful insights into touring, and were offered the following advice when overseas:
• Squeeze every last bot of the lemon;
• Don’t under-estimate the importance of the 3rd half;
• Don’t be Gen Y – put away your iPods and iPhones and don’t worry about what’s happening outside the bus, rather concentrate on and enjoy what’s happening inside the bus.
“It has taken a lot of effort by the players to make this tour happen, and we couldn’t be happier with how things have turned out thus far”, said chief tour organiser James Swan. “It is a real honour for us all to not only be part of the Club, but to represent the Club overseas as we take on some of the great institutions and rugby clubs of the world. For me personally, it is a great way to cap off what has been a great year, and it is the intention of the touring party to win every game – our very own Grand Slam”, said James. “Whilst we intend to enjoy ourselves and make the most of the experience, we have a strong desire to play great rugby and continue the great legacy of our Club. This Club means a lot to me, and every other member of the tour squad”.
SUFC are scheduled to play up to 7 matches in the UK and Ireland over a 3 week period:
1. SUFC vs Oxford University (Monday 25 November 2013)
2. SUFC vs Dublin University (Wednesday 27 November 2013)
3. SUFC vs Cardiff RFC (Friday 29 November 2013)
4. SUFC vs Cambridge University (Monday 2 December 2013)
5. SUFC vs Edinburgh Academicals (Wednesday 4 December 2013)
6. SUFC vs United Hospitals XV (Sunday 8 December 2013)
7. SUFC vs Rosslyn Park FC (Wednesday 11 December 2013)
There are very few organisations that have the ability to offer young men such an excellent foundation to reach their full potential in life. Sydney University is in a unique position, providing an environment of excellence, a pathway to higher representative rugby honours as well as a setting where academic achievement is vigorously encouraged. This tour will be the celebration of having achieved both academic and sporting success over a long period of time, and fostering relationships for the young men of tomorrow to allow them the opportunity to meet contempories in Europe and explore avenues for educational and rugby advancement in the future.
The tradition of SUFC overseas Rugby Tours continues.