Old Collegians Rugby Union Club

 

Old Collegians - 75 years & beyond

 

An article written in 2012 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the club

Taken from the Anniversary Dinner 14th July 2012


Prince Alfred Old Collegians Rugby Club was founded in 1937 and reformed and renamed as Old Collegians Rugby Club in 1945 after the suspension of the competition during World War II.
Originally, the club’s players had to be old scholars of private schools and universities, or officers of His Majesty’s Services. When SA Rugby policies changed, membership was opened more broadly.

The original jersey was maroon with a Prince Alfred College crest; it evolved to maroon and navy hoops in 1955, red and blue hoops in the 70s, and the current blue with red stripes in the 90s.

Old Collegians first home-ground was in the centre of Victoria Park racecourse. It then moved to the dairy cow grazed pastures of the south parklands; many a tackle had an excremental bow wave. Tregenza Oval became home in 1953. It had a six metres slope from end to end, and poor drainage.
Some thought the excrement preferable.
The small, green, iron changing shed was well known for its lack of reliable hot showers. Thanks to building and fundraising efforts which epitomise the commitment members have always put into the club, the clubhouse was opened in 1972 and the change rooms in 1977. The traditions of rugby were enhanced by the communal spa bath in the change rooms, but use ceased in the 90s due to tightening health regulations and it was eventually replaced with more showers.

Old Collegians has a proud culture of inclusion, consistently maintaining a full complement of senior teams, juniors since the 80s, and a women’s team since 1996. A family club, it now boasts second, third and fourth generations of players in some families. Since the women’s team became an influence, it also has many children with two rugby-playing parents.

Since the 90s, the club has been blessed to watch junior players progress to seniors, securing the future of its ranks. It has also thrived by assimilating "blow-ins" from as far afield as Argentina, England, Scotland, South Africa, New Zealand and Wales.

Old Collegians has a successful history on the pitch, winning First Grade premierships in 1956, 1959, 1967, 1970, 1971, 1982, 1991, 1998, 2001 and 2006 and the West End Trophy for Best Club for the last eight years it was presented (2001 to 2008). It has had countless state representatives, and the Don Smith Medal for SA's Best & Fairest has been won by Len Perkins (1946), R Barker (1961), Rod Hauser (1972, 1973), Sean Beaton (1982, 1985), Gavin Pfister (1997) and Andy Farquharson (2006).

Old Collegians has some world class players amongst its far-flung sons, such as Rod Hauser (Wallabies), Gavin Pfister (London Irish, Stormers & Ulster), Brock James (Australian 7s, Australian U19s & U20s, Western Force, Clermont-Auvergne), Alex Rokobaro (Stade Français, Melbourne Rebels) and Liam Gill (Australian Schoolboys & U20s, Australian 7s and Queensland Reds).

Over the past 75 years Old Collegians is a club which has enjoyed the full spirit of rugby both on and off the pitch.
Long may it prosper.

 

An article written in 1987 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the club

Old Collegians (OC) was formed in 1937 as Prince Alfred Old Collegians Rugby Club by Jack Hastwell, Monty Bennett, Jack Phelps and others, and is now the oldest continuous rugby club in the State. The Club finished second in the B Grade Competition in 1938, its first year of competition, but was beaten in the final of the Consolation Cup by Army A. In 1941, during World War II, the Club and North Adelaide Rugby Club were planning to combine. However, the competition ceased from 1941 and the combination was not consummated.

The club was reformed in 1945 on the renewal of the competition in the State, mainly through the efforts of Len Perkins and Lloyd Jackman. The club was then named Old Collegians Rugby Club.

Since then, the Club has had varied successes on the field but has played a major role in furthering the game of rugby in SA.

The Club won the Division 1 premiership in 1956, 1959, 1967, 1971, 1982 and 1991. The 'decade' frequency of success does not show that the Club was relegated to Division II in 1962 and then fought back to compete in virtually all of the Division 1 final series since 1965. It seems that the 'bridesmaid' role in finals during the last two decades began in 1948 when OC beat all of the clubs convincingly during the season but was put out by Woodville in the semi-finals, partly because of repeated indiscretions by a player who insisted on picking up the ball after tackles rather than toeing it first.

The club has had many successes in other grades over the years and regularly fields four or five senior sides.

Many OC players have captained or represented the State at senior and junior levels over the years and have taken out SARU individual player awards. The greatest achievement went to Rod Hauser (Don Smith Trophy winner) who was selected for the Wallabies while playing for OC. He toured England as understudy to John Hipwell and was later selected as half back for Australia.

Some of the other most talented players that have played for OC include Mick Hone, Jock Yule, Geoff Archer and Shamus Bestick in the 1940's; Jeff Hone (Captain first Premiership team) and Paul LeMercier in the 1950's; Phil Williams, Tony Jubb and Bob Forbes in the 1960's; Sean Beaton (two times Don Smith Trophy and three times Sir Norman Jude Tackling Trophy winner) and Dennis Hayden 1970-80. John Davies coached Division 1 teams in excess of 10 years. Bob Burgess, the longest serving Division 1 player in South Australia, recently hung up his boots as a hooker.

OC is a club which enjoys the full spirit of rugby, even to the extent that a referee had to ask a third division side to refrain from singing rugby songs in a line-out! It is also a club whose players, at times, fit traditional rugby eccentricities. A few years ago Division 1 used the names of fruits or vegetables for their line-out calls to denote the front or back of the line respectively. A well known forward (front row?) was seen to stick his head out of a line-out when the call was Artichoke - 8, and was then heard to ask the caller, "Is artichoke a f____ fruit or a vegetable?"

Eligibility to join the club has been influenced by South Australian Rugby Union (SARU) policies. Initially clubs had to select players from defined club districts, except for OC who had to draw on private school old scholars, university graduates or officers of His Majesties Services! For many years the club then relied heavily on players coming from the University Club after graduation (Uni could only play two graduates in Division 1) and from players being transferred with business or seeking employment from the eastern states and overseas. When the SARU changed their policy on district for players, membership of the club was open to anyone with a penchant for rugby, no matter what level. Transient players and players with a wide range of interests have contributed much to the rugby and culture of the Club.

The Club ran senior teams only for many years and in the mid 1980's the number of new players was diminishing. The Club then planned the development of it's juniors. The Club ran an U/18 team for three years in the early 1980's and then formed the junior Collegians in 1985. OC now competes in each junior age bracket. Prior to Junior Collegians, OC had an earlier input to juniors in the 1970's when it provided some of the first coaches for the newly formed Waratah Club and coaches for secondary schools.

OC's first home-ground was in the centre of Victoria Park race course; the club then moved to the dairy cow grazed pastures of the south parklands - many a tackle had an excremental bow wave! - and then to its current location at Tregenza Oval in 1953. The oval had in excess of six metres slope from end to end and, after levelling with it's poor drainage, it seems that other Clubs consider that we have reverted back to excremental bow waves in wet years. The Club also used the back oval of Prince Alfred College for training and an odd match during the 1940's.

The development at Tregenza epitomises the great effort that many players, supporters and their partners have put into the Club. The small, green galvanised iron changing shed during the 1950's and 1960's was well known for it's lack of reliable hot showers and robust air-conditioning all year round. This forced show of player machoism was softened by the offer of a cuppa tea and scones as the players left the field on Saturday afternoons. The sale of tea and scones to spectators by Dot Rogers, Lillian Holdich and others from a small canvas tent regardless of the weather, provided a financial start for the current clubhouse.

The Club house, minus change rooms, was opened on 11 November 1972 (by Sir Norman Jude); the change rooms were completed in 1977. The clubhouse culminates the movement of OC from the Green Dragon Hotel, to the Botanic Hotel to the Feathers Hotel for after match/practice capers. The tradition of rugby at OC is enhanced by the Club's communal spa bath in the change rooms, a legacy of senior members' enthusiasm for rugby tradition on their return from the Golden Oldies tour to London.

The Club has been fortunate in having many 'characters' amongst its members over the years - more than can be discussed in this short article. The Rt. Rev. Howell Witt is one person who kept coming back - he played Division 1 and was President of the Club in the early 1950's and was guest speaker at the Club's 21st and 50th Anniversary Dinners. His well-known sense of humour was shown on the field, when, as half-back, OC won a scrum near the line, and the blind winger ran past him yelling out 'pass, pass, pass' only for the spectators to hear Howell Witt yell out 'four no trumps' and then see him run around the base of the scrum to score a try under the posts.

Members of OC have been heavily involved in the administration of rugby at the State level through holding many of the positions in the SARU, South Australian Junior Rugby Union (SAJRU) and the South Australian Referees Association (SARA) through coaching and selecting State teams and through holding management positions in the Crippled Crows and the Rugby Club of SA. Colin Runge, a member of the first team in 1938, was later a President of the SARU. Bert Rogers, a President of the Club, was also a President of the SARU and also the West Australian Rugby Union (WARU).

Old Collegians has had the privilege of hosting overseas and interstate touring teams and entertaining visiting international teams. The development of the Club has been well supported by sponsors for which we are thankful and player's families and partners. It's formal Balls in recent years are testimony to the social side of the Club.

The Club Guernsey has changed colours from the initial maroon jumper with a PAC crest, to broad maroon and navy hoops in 1955, to its current light red and blue hoops in the mid 1970's, but OC's desire to play and enjoy competitive rugby in the true spirit of the code has not changed.

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Tregenza oval, Booth Avenue,Linden Park,South Australia, 5065