An enthusiastic audience of 111 members and their guests celebrated St George’s Day at Stationer’s Hall with a superb luncheon, followed by an entertaining talk from Ian Ritchie, chief executive of the all-conquering Rugby Football Union.
The event was hosted by Club Chairman Richard Butler and sponsored by Drummonds Bank, with a grace given by Malcolm Stansfield and a loyal toast to Club patron Her Majesty the Queen proposed by the Chairman, in the week of her 90th birthday.
A Champagne reception in the elegant Court Room was followed by a fine three-course luncheon of black ash goat’s cheese starter, an excellent herb-crusted rack of lamb, and lemon brulee tart to finish, accompanied by Gerard Bertrand 6eme Sens Blanc 2013 and Le Campuget Syrah Voignier Chateau de Campuget 2015.
The Club could not have had a more appropriate guest than Ian Ritchie, who led English rugby to its most successful year since 2003, noted Mr Butler. “While Saint George may have slayed dragons in history, it was a Welsh dragon that England overcame at Twickenham, to win the Triple Crown, before going on to Paris to win the Grand Slam.”
Rejoicing in that Six Nations success, Mr Ritchie drew strong comparisons between rugby and The Farmers Club. He commended the Club’s principles of debate, fellowship and good food, recalling all three were very much in evidence at the post-match dinner in Paris, where French and English teams dined together until well past 2am. “It all builds a sense of camaraderie, which is so important.”
Joining the RFU in 2011, at a very difficult time for the game, it was clear it needed to refocus on its values, he said. “Teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship - they are enormously important and something we cherish.”
Do not underestimate the impact of being great ambassadors, and symptomatic of those values, he continued. In sport doing the decent thing, often with humility of approach, had a great impact.
Investing in the future was important too. “Every pound we get goes straight back into the game, through regional development officers, for example, or grass-roots club facilities, or the 700 schools where we have introduced rugby for the first time, with striking results for discipline and academic performance. “
- Photos from the event can be viewed from the News page here