Old Boys appoint 'Classic Leopards'

Former Australian Army Rugby Union representative rugby players have accepted roles as Classic Leopards and will act as Liaison Officers for the Army Rugby Union Old Boys Leopards. Much like the ARU with its Classic Wallabies, we are honouring greats from past eras with this role and act as the ‘go to’ persons for their playing era.

1950’s Classic Leopards LO – Hori Howard,
1960’s Classic Leopards LO’s – Ian Mackay, Arthur Fittock, Bob Bell
1970’s Classic Leopards LO’s – Paddy Ryan, Don Muirhead, Peter Cosgrove, Gary McKay, Bob Brookes
1980’s Classic Leopards LO’s – Tim Simkin, George Whatman, Steve McDonald, Mark Wheatley, Angus Baker, Phil Reed, Al Bradford, Geoff Jones, John Walters
1990’s Classic Leopards LO’s – Jason Whitfield, Guy Barnard, Jeremy Scott, Brad Jones; Ricky Dumigan, Simon Small, Murray Harley, Aaran Booth
2000’s Classic Leopards LO’s – Peter Murphy, Ben Raywood, Ben Jones, Matt Fraser, Doug Pashley

The likes of Ian Mackay - Australian Barbarians, ACT & WA; Arthur Fittock - Wallaby Trialist, QLD, ACT & VIC; Paddy Ryan – ACT, NSW Country & Junior Wallabies; Don Muirhead - ACT & QLD, QLD Country and Steve McDonald - VIC & ACT whilst Jason Whitfield & Guy Barnard played for NSW Country and Tim Simkin & George Whatman played for QLD Country whilst serving in the Army. Hori Howard also coached PNG when it was a Territory of Australia.

Defence, and in particular the Army, have contributed enormously to civilian rugby competitions around Australia and abroad for well over a century. With the operational deployments soon to be wound back to normal exercising we are sure that rugby will again become the ‘war’ the Army plays in peacetime again!

The Royal Military College (RMC) was established at Duntroon in Canberra in 1911. Very quickly, rugby union emerged as the dominant sport played by cadets and staff. The importance of Duntroon to rugby in the whole of the Monaro was highlighted when, as a cost cutting measure in the Great Depression, RMC was moved in 1931 to Sydney and little rugby was played in the district until the College was moved back to Duntroon in 1937. That year 1937, is regarded as, the beginning of the Australian Capital Territory Rugby Union with Duntroon as the spark.

Sadly the Royal Military College, Duntroon no longer competes in the ACTRU competition however has an enviable record of winning the John I Dent Cup 15 times between 1938 and 1988 (1938-39, 1941, 1945-46, 1948-53, 1955, 1960-62) and runners-up on another 4 occasions. The RMC club still competes honourably in the Monaro (ACTRU 1st Division) competition but find it hard to compete on a weekly basis due to the six monthly class rotations, field exercises and training commitments.

A staggering 126 RMC cadets, RMC staff or Army personnel pre-serving, serving and post serving have represented the ACT since 1938. A complete history of Army rugby players who have represented at National, State and Regional level has been unveiled by the Australian Army Rugby Union on behalf of the Old Boys Leopards. The information is posted in PDF format at www.armyrugby.org.au and any feedback would be greatly appreciated as it will always be a work in progress.

Additionally, clubs like the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA), Riverina ADF Rugby Club (RARC), Border Army Rugby Club (BARC) and Singleton Army compete in the Monaro, Southern Inland, Victorian Country and Newcastle Hunter Valley competitions respectively and again hold their own but find it hard to compete due to a high turnover of staff and cadets/recruits/trainees. History shows that Army has had teams in the Queensland, Sydney Suburban, Victorian, South Australian, Darwin, Toowoomba and Townsville competitions over the years with varying degrees of success.

Civilian clubs in all major competitions across Australia benefit from Army personnel playing, coaching and administering rugby wherever they serve these days. Lifelong friendships are forged and careers away from rugby and the Army blossom as a result.

Any former players are asked to contact the Old Boys Leopards via the AARU web page www.armyrugby.org.au and go to the Old Boys section or friend us on Facebook - Australian Army Rugby Old Boys Leopards to keep in touch and be actively involved. Saturday 18th May 2013 at Victoria Barracks, Sydney is the scheduled gala day of Australian Services Rugby Union so get on board whether you intend playing or simply to be a spectator.

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