As a finale to their China-UK University Rugby Friendship Week, playing host to students and officials from Xiamen University, the University of Portsmouth (UoP) wanted to give their overseas visitors an insight into English club rugby with a match, preceded by a dinner. They asked Havant RFC, Richard’s rugby alma mater, to host it and they also wanted to dedicate the event to Richard’s memory and raise money for CRY.
On the night 80 people sat down for the 3 course dinner, including senior delegates from both universities and Alan Mak, the MP for Havant. The family were represented by myself, Hayley, Richard’s widow, and his sister Lizzie.
After the meal I was asked to say a few words and I expressed the stark statistics about SYCD, with which we are all too aware, and gave an insight into CRY’s “raison d’etre”. I also emphasised how the rugby family had rallied round us over the past 15 months, going well beyond being just a sport. It was slightly surreal to have each paragraph translated into Chinese as I went through it.
Paul Tilley, UoP’s Head of Sport, responded saying that we’d been able to demonstrate to the visitors the respect and camaraderie that is part and parcel of club rugby and also expressed UoP’s intentions to develop their own relationship with CRY to promote SYCD awareness among their students.
The match which followed was played under floodlights between a mixed Havant 2nds/3rds XV and a team representing UoP, including 4 or 5 of the visiting Chinese players – their standard having impressed the UoP coaches during the week’s activities, which were a mixture of rugby and cultural.
A crowd of 2-300 had turned up to watch and were treated to a very competitive game, which was narrowly won by Havant. The precise score escapes me.
The proceeds from the dinner, raffle and collection on the night amounted to a few pounds short of £1200.
I would like to thank both the University of Portsmouth and Havant RFC for putting on this event and for those that attended and contributed to another fitting tribute to Richard.
Gordon Brember (Richard’s father)