SRFC Alumni - Some Surprises (Part III)
There are some instantly recognisable names in this edition, along with some faces you should know in the 1983 Colts team.
This edition of previous SRFC players goes a little further back and has a couple of surprises before finishing with someone who needs no introduction. I hope you enjoy, but as before, if you have any ideas for future items (or additions/corrections) please drop me a line Richard Lloyd.
Richard Hill – the elder version was a scrum-half who was as dedicated as any professional in an era before Players were paid. He played through BWS, Salisbury 1st XV and Exeter University to become an integral part of the all-conquering Bath team of the 1980s, earning himself 29 England caps and a short spell as England Captain. At Bath he re-formed his school and SRFC 1st XV partnership with No.8 David Egerton. After retiring in 1994 Richard started a successful coaching career that has included Gloucester, Newport, Bristol and Worcester, before alighting to France where he remains with the Rouen Club as they work their way towards the French Top 14. Richard Hill
Marcus Olsen – a regular Sunday morning attendee as a mini Parent alongside his father Jim, to whom we owe a great debt of thanks because he was one of the key individuals involved in our mini section, organising the first ever Salisbury Mini Festival in 1979. Marcus is testimony that Rugby is a game for all sizes. His skill set, determination and application allowed him to compete with and normally better the giants that roam the International age-groups and Professional teams. Marcus represented England at all age-group levels before captaining the U21 side and representing the South-West in the Divisional championships. Whilst studying in Cardiff at the predecessor to Cardiff Met University, he played for Llandovery and Welsh Colleges, before joining Bath and then Saracens. But we were lucky to have Marcus back at Castle Road to finish his career and pass on his experience to a new generation of our Senior players. His rugby is now limited to starring in the annual Colts/Ex-Colts match he initiated to honour the memory of Club favourite Joe Osmond and passing on his extensive knowledge as the Director of Sport at Dauntseys School. Not bad for a guy who was told by Jon Labbett (see below) to “go home and grow” when he first appeared at The Minis. Check out some pictures of our Alumni SRFC Alumni
Mark Labbett 'The Beast' – ok, a bit of poetic licence here. ‘The Beast’ is feared for his trivia knowledge rather than his Rugby, but we are claiming him as one of ours. Did you recognise him in the cover photo of our 1983 Colts team ? He is the tall one !! Mark’s father Jon was one of the originals who set up our Mini section in 1975 and continued to support the Club, along with wife Carolyn, even when none of their boys were playing, Brothers Phil and Paul both appearing at different times for the 1st XV. I finish by paraphrasing a chat Mark had with James Haskell on a celebrity version of The Chase: “Ah, James Haskell: Wasps, England and the British Lions, meet Mark Labbett Salisbury Stones.” The Stones are our 4th XV and have a tremendous touring and social history. Ask some of the (very !?) old boys like Chris Whalley and Johnnie Mussell for their tales……….The Salisbury Beast
Will Carling – I need to provide a bit of context for our younger readers. Will was a celebrity, famous not only because he was the youngest England captain to that point or because he led England to Grand Slams at a time when they were as rare as hen’s teeth, but also because of the controversy he stoked when calling the RFU Council a ‘bunch of old farts’ for doing nothing as the game lurched towards professionalism in the early 1990s and his high profile lifestyle that included a dalliance with Princess Diana, allegedly. But, before all of that Will was a Salisbury Stone ! Playing during a break between School and University whilst the family lived locally because of his Father’s posting. He didn’t play for the 1st XV, not because he wasn’t good enough, but because in those days getting out of the Stones was more difficult than getting into the England squad ! There is a dispute about the exact circumstances, but his Dad wasn’t too pleased that his debut was made as a flanker. Regardless, he and we have added to life’s rich tapestry and Will proudly qualifies as one of our Alumni. His brother Marcus spent several seasons playing Senior rugby on Hudsons Field as well. Here is an entertaining and informative interview: Will Carling
In the next instalment I will introduce you to some of the Club’s stalwarts. Excellent players in their own right, but legends of our Club not only because of their endeavours on the pitch, but their commitment off it. But I sign off here with an homage to someone we are honoured to acknowledge as one of ours……
Richard Hill – what can I say about Richard Anthony Hill ? World Cup winner. Respected the World over by teammates, opponents and Rugby fans. Role model and even Statesman for England Rugby. The “younger Richard Hill” as he had to be known until his playing record and fame usurped his fellow named England Skipper. All the comments made by former team-mates, opponents and watchers of the game say similar things about his dedication, consistency and ability to just quietly and effectively get on with it. What they don’t say enough about were his abilities to be in the right place at the right time, and to invariably then do the right thing. He was a skilful and very intelligent rugby player admired by an entire Rugby generation. The Hill and Labbett families were big friends and fathers John and Jon were involved in setting up our minis back in 1975, where Richard started life watching big brother Tim, who later starred as a prop in the Salisbury 1st XV. But watching wasn’t what Richard wanted to do, he demanded to join in. It was here that he started his association with Marcus Olsen, the pair of them starring for Bishop Wordsworth School in the early years of the National Schools Cup under the tutelage of Steve Ralph-Bowman, a coach with encyclopaedic knowledge. His ability was such that he made his debut for Salisbury 1st XV as a 17 year old, immediately shining and sparking the interest of Dorset & Wilts for their County Championship games. What irks the writer is Richard’s fabulous career could have been as a Bristol player rather than Saracens, following a pre-season warm-up arranged by SRFC to showcase his talents. But when we discussed his performance with the Bristol Coach after the game it seems he had chosen to watch his Colts instead ! The rest is history as they say, with Richard forging his career-long association with Saracens whilst studying at Brunel University. Richard retired in 2008 but has remained in the game, acting as mentor to prospective England players and now holding the post of Manager to the National side.
Well done Richard, thanks for all the great memories you have given your friends at Salisbury Rugby Club. You have made us very proud. See you soon.