The Army Rugby Union Old Boys Leopards are back!

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After a number of lean years and some not so impressive attendances some tough AARU Management decisions were made in order to revitalise the Leopards. A new executive was formed and collectively went about rebuilding the brand with a new name and direction.

The Leopards are a unique organisation that caters for all former Army Rugby Union players, coaches and administrators across a number of levels of rugby. All former army rugby union players are encouraged participate. We are a stand alone organisation and not part of the AARU Structure.

A spectacular day at Victoria Barracks Sydney, the spiritual home of services rugby, saw well in excess of 50 Leopards participate (on and off the field) in the annual Army Rugby Union Old Boys Leopards versus Navy Old Salts fixture and countless more on the sidelines to support Army.

A strong squad of players was assembled and an equally impressive coaching and management staff. Long time former players like Murray Harley, Aaran Booth, Mike Kelly, Chris Waters, Greg Ducie, Lewis West, Jason Whitfield, Mark Goodwin, Jeremy Scott and Guy Barnard to name but a few donned the jumper. Luminaries such as Geoff Jones, Stevie McDonald and John Walters coached the team and management support was from Debra Booth, Craig Sloan, Nick Foster-Jones and Peter Power. We were graced with the presence of ASRU’s last Wallaby Bob Brown however sadly ASRU Patron and former AARU/ASRU player who later went on to represent the Brumbies and Wallabies Jim Williams was unable to attend due to work commitments.

As part of our commitment to raise the profile of the annual fixture a combined effort with the Navy Old Salts resulted in a trophy being struck for competition between the two teams. In memory of CPL Etuate ‘Blocker’ Seruitukana and LS Chris ‘Chops’ McLean a suitably engraved silver platter will be played for annually.

The Leopards won the toss in 2012 and now hold the trophy for the next twelve months. The traditional ceremonial offering of a nip of port was provided to the players from both teams and a toast was raised to our fallen mates prior to kickoff. Although the score will forever be recorded as 9-9 in the finest traditions of Old Boys rugby the Army Rugby Union Old Boys Leopards disposed of the Navy Old Salts about 7 tries to 3.

Best on the day were Mark Goodwin, Tomas Navasulu and Mike Kelly with Guy Barnard and Pete Conroy also getting a special mention. The games was played in great spirit and despite our bodies writing cheques they could not cash at times the skill level and commitment was reminiscent of days long past. Players from both teams mixed throughout the afternoon on the balcony of the Victoria Barracks and well into the evening at the Randwick Rugby Club. We certainly encouraged Old Salts attendance at Randwick Rugby Club and aim to improve the numbers from both teams into the future.

The official part of the day concluded with a speech from the Honourable Mike Kelly AM, MP Parliamentary Secretary for Defence when he talked about AARU - mateship and camaraderie and then a retort from Randwick legend Jeff Sayle who reminisced about his fifty year involvement with Army and Services rugby.

A special thanks to our new major sponsor Chris Hawkes from NEK; kit supplier Jerry Scott from Kukri; Roy Rogers for the IT support with social media and internet; Mark Goodwin for his liaison at Victoria Barracks and especially to Aaran and Debbie Booth who project managed the whole day superbly.

The Army Rugby Union Old Boys Leopards aims to bring former players, coaches and administrators together for annual fixtures in the best traditions of Army Rugby. You do not have to play in the fixtures to be involved! We will endeavour to provide as much information as early as possible to you in order for preparations to occur for your attendance to be guaranteed.

One of our goals is to have photos from every AARU team over the years and include the names of those that played each year so that we can try and make contact with as many former players, coaches and administrators as possible. Please keep in contact via Facebook and keep up to date via the AARU web page and forward on to others who may wish to participate. Your assistance in this matter is appreciated.

Congratulations to Army for winning the WGCDR Caldwell trophy and to the combined RANRU/AFRU (W) team on winning the CDRE Mick Dunne Cup and being crowned the respective ASRC champions. All in all a superb day of services rugby at Victoria Barracks Sydney! Thanks to ASRU for hosting the ASRC and to the ASRRA for providing the officials.

Leopards: Not because they are put out to pasture at many RSLs around the country and rusting quietly but ‘Because They Never Change Their Spots’.

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