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The annual Australian Army Rugby Union Old Boys aka Leopards weekend for 2013 is done and dusted for another year. Team positions were filled early and many more supporters were in attendance this year.

Our aim is to grow the Old Boys annually and we are actively engaging with so many more former players, coaches and administrators these days due primarily to the hard work of the members who are pushing the membership on to friends and colleagues.

In 2013 we entered into an arrangement with the Mates4Mates Charity in an attempt to add some commercial credibility to our cause. Additionally the development of a constitution has rounded the organisation out and provided the much needed corporate governance.

The weekend commenced with an introduction to the Mates4Mates Charity at the University of NSW Officers / Sergeants Mess, Kensington. The intent was always for the evening to be informal with a few speeches in a relaxed environment away from the public. A big thanks to UNSWR for the evening.

Centori Pty Ltd Principal Brian Freeman spoke passionately about the Mates4Mates Charity and its origins. The emotional story of a double amputee on crutches completing the infamous Kokoda Trail with family members and friends of injured both mental and physical soldiers as part of the Mates4Mates Wounded Soldiers Program.

Our Co-Patron General Peter Cosgrove (Rtd) spoke of the requirement for our wounded both physically and mentally to be looked after on return to Australia and that the Leopards involvement would go a long way to increasing the profile of the charity and providing it with some additional funds.

Saturday was game day however some much needed administration namely the AGM was to occur. Coogee Yeeros was the venue and the business was dealt with in a cordial and professional manner despite one of the recently elected committee members not really being 100%.

A real buzz came over the famous Victoria Barracks rugby oval around 11.00am as players from all eras, shapes and sizes from the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 00’s started to arrive for the ASRU gala day and importantly the old boys fixture.

The rugby was competitive but nowhere near as physical as the previous year. Clearly we are getting older but you wouldn't know had you seen Simon Small in wrecking ball mode at the breakdown.

Peter ‘13A’ Conroy was literally whistled off the park by his logistics corp and staff college classmate referee. The joke seemed to go on for too long however it did provide the necessary breaks in play.

Ricky ‘Bugle’ Dumigan sharing his services between the Leopards and Old Salts was a highlight but also meant he was subjected to much ribbing from the likes of coaches Geoff Jones and Steve McDonald and Managers Craig Sloane and John Walters.

Being able to celebrate lost friends in the manner in which we do it every year is so pleasing. Missing again in 2013 was the CDF David Hurley as were regulars Mike Kelly MP and Greg Ducie. Ben Roberts-Smith unfortunately had to withdraw from the fixture but did attend as promised prior to a business flight to London. Work, posting locality and family precluded the likes of Arthur Fittock, Hori Howard, Gary McKay, Co-Patron Bob Brown, Don Muirhead, Geoff Kaslar, Craig Izzard, Russ Lowes, Roy Rogers, Dinga Bell, Peter Power, Ken Lloyd, Paul Yates, Nick Forster-Jones, Kel Pearce, Mark Goodwin, Brad Jones, Steve Salmon, Ash Cooper, Robert Shearman, Rod Farrar, Geoff Stooke, Bob Hunter, Spencer Norris, Pita Thomson and Cameron Baker from attending. They have promised to be present in 2014 and beyond.

Notable attendees in 2013 were Co-Patron Peter Cosgrove, Dave Harper from Dubai, Tony Grant from Perth, Rob McPherson from Singapore, Tim Simkin, Simon Small and Wayne Von Hoff from Brisbane, Wayne Cullen from Townsville, Leo Orreal from Wagga, Dave Bartlett from Toowoomba, Anthony Thomas from Noosa and Co-Patron Jim Williams from Sydney. Most significantly and therapeutically was seeing former second rower Hamish Robson from Bowral back in the mix after a lengthy absence through illness.

Great to also see Paddy Ryan, Gary Hogan, Ian Mackay, Charlie Barnett, Ron Ducie, Mick Ducie, Mick Day, Angus Baker, Grant Sanderson and so many more in attendance. Regulars included JJ Frewen, Marcus Fielding, Andy Carr, Chris Waters, Al Quarterman, Peter Conroy, Aaran Booth, Murray Harley, Lewis West, Jeremy Scott, Guy Barnard, Jason Whitfield, Tommy Navasulu, Matt Hines and George Whatman.

Again the Old Boys presented the AARU team with their jumpers prior to the fixture and again this adds significance to the occasion and our ongoing relationship with the AARU. How significant would receiving your Army jumper from Wallaby Jim Williams, ARU Board Member Peter Cosgrove or any Old Boy for that matter!

Our foes the Old Salts became drinking companions as the afternoon and rugby warmed up. Mixing with former players like Bob Plath, Randall Petrie, Gordon 'Strop' Longrigg, Mark Todd, Nick Sverdloff, Mario Cinello, Brett Quinn, Glenn Green and John Oakes to name but a few makes the day so meaningful and worthwhile.

AARU and RANRU have had success primarily due to the relationship that they have with their respective Old Boys. AFRU are hoping to take a leaf out of our respective organizations for future involvement and the ball is in your court KIngy!

The function at the Randwick Rugby Club was again the highlight of the weekend. The fixture is important to those that are capable of playing but the function is what the weekend is all about.

Speeches from John O'Shea ex Wales and British & Irish Lion and Jeffrey Leonard Sayle from the Randwick Rugby Club were well received. The mixing of our Old Salts brothers (5 in 2012 and 11 in 2013) adds significance to the weekend. We may have played hard against each other however always enjoyed each other’s company and played very well when the teams combined at ASRU.

Congratulations to the hardworking committee (Murray Harley, Aaran Booth, Deb Booth, Matt Hines, Mark Goodwin, Kevin Lloyd, Anthony Rogers, Craig Sloane and new committee members Joe McIvor, Lewis West & Mark Rowe) and in particular Deb Booth for pulling the weekend together. We are now very well organised and providing as much lead time and professionalism to the organisation as possible. A new committee has been voted in and work has commenced for a momentous tour to Turkey to celebrate the centenary of the ANZAC landing in 2015.

Thanks to our principal sponsor Claviger and Chris Hawkes and apparel sponsor Kukri Australia and Jeremy Scott for your involvement and sponsorship. If individuals or companies you know of are interested in being involved through sponsorship in the future we would love to hear from you.

We are all busy people in our own lives which include work and family commitments. For many of our members going on operations was not always forthcoming so rugby was considered our 'war' so getting together to reflect on our time together and successes is important.

What we would like to see is more of the recently retired players making their way back to the fold. The younger brigade of Jake Byrt, Peter Murphy, Ben Raywood, Marcus Fogarty, Doug Pashley and Gav Whiteside are encouraged to get actively involved and become committee members in the future.

Leopards. Not because they are rusting outside of RSL Clubs but because they never change their spots!

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