The 21st Golden Oldies World Rugby Festival was staged in, arguably, the best rugby destination in the Northern Hemisphere and quite possibly the World. Cardiff turned on brilliant weather (except for the Parade of Nations and the 1st day of play) and teams and supporters were able to enjoy a lively city with excellent restaurants, bars and accommodation. The games were played at the Cardiff University playing fields and at the Rumney Rugby Club. Typical rugby fields and facilities hosted the teams for three days of fun, friendship and camaraderie on and off the field.
“Knackered Bulls Charters Towers Australia, we have had an amazing time here in Cardiff in the true spirit of Rugby we have met wonderful new friends and have greatly appreciated all the hard work from the fantastic volunteers.”
Teams and players came from Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Japan, Russia, Germany, Italy, Scotland, England, Wales, Canada, Spain, Chile, South Africa and Ireland. A full quota of qualified Golden Oldies Referees officiated and ensured that games were contested as evenly as possible and that all players were able to maximise their participation and enjoyment.
A feature of the play was the involvement of women players. We had a number of mixed gender teams take part and a genuine Woman’s team entered, who managed to put together an all-female game or two, as well as having members joining teams and in all case performing very well!
“Wonderful sport that makes you have friends more than 20000 kilometres apart with whom every 2 years you share to enter a field…..again”
The teams gathered at Cardiff Castle for a drink or two prior to the Parade of Nations through the streets of Cardiff to the Principality Stadium (previously the Millennium Stadium)-sadly a bit of rain wet us all at the Castle and during the Parade but this did not dampen enthusiasm as teams entered the iconic Stadium! Surely one of the greatest and best-known rugby Stadiums in the world.
“I admit that each and every Festival I’ve been to has been great, but possibly this event’s opening and closing ceremonies rate as the very best I’ve seen. Well done.“
The Opening Function on the field at Principality included outstanding entertainment from Pendyrus Male Choir and Brass Symphonic Wales, both regular performing groups at Principality Stadium. Their spine-tingling performances gave a hint of the atmosphere and feel that Cardiff is known for when hosting international matches at the renowned Stadium. The MC for the evening was Phil Steele, a commentator on Scrum V highlights and a pitch-side reporter for Scrum V Live. Phil also does a weekly feature for Scrum V on the Radio as well as reporting for BBC Sport Wales and was an enthusiastic presenter. Plenty of food and beverages and a huge dose of fun and friendship ensured a memorable evening for all attending.
“Fantastic week and so pleased to have been part of it meeting some great people”
At the Tuesday Big Day Out Celebration at St Davids Hall in the centre of Cardiff, rugby officianados were entertained by an intriguing discussion featuring Wales Rugby Legends, J P R Williams and Adrian Hadley.
An absolute highlight was the Guinness Book of Records World’s Largest Scrum that was set on the No 1 Ground at Cardiff University Rugby facility on Wednesday 24th August. 1,297 members of the Golden Oldies fraternity packed into a scrum with 649 per side represented in white shirts and red shirts. Front rows of 200, second rows of 230 and back rows of 219 made a spectacular sight as the scrum was set in professional style by the world’s greatest referee, Nigel Owen. Members of the two groups included Golden Oldies players, supporters, families and officials. Even members of the local constabulary donned the red shirts and were part of the action.
Attended by 4 television crews and a range of local reporters the World Record Scrum featured on BBC TV News, ITV, local television outlets, ESPN and various rugby channels world-wide as well as a wide range of international print media. Assembled and managed by the Golden Oldies Referees, the World’s Largest Scrum was great fun and a proud achievement for all those involved.
“My claim to fame as a member of this scrum and a new world record. Wow!”
Three great days of enjoyable rugby were a great display of true international Golden Oldies sport. All teams entered into the true spirit of Golden Oldies Rugby and ensured that the opportunity was created for all participants to enjoy the games and the socialising following matches.
There were some usual rugby injuries but the most interesting was reported in the Wales Online Newspaper…
“WRU boss Martyn Phillips has had surgery to repair serious shoulder damage after being injured during the Golden Oldies World Rugby Festival.
The chief executive was in the WRU team which beat the Wooden Spoon charity in a match at Cardiff University Fields, in Llanrumney.”
Our best wishes to Martyn and hope for a swift recovery from his surgery. We understand Martyn is unlikely to strap on his boots again.
The ages of the participants started at the lowest regular age of 35 (though one or two of our women may not have admitted to 35 and the manager of the Mavericks Army Team was a rather young team manager who managed to sneak on to the field once or twice!)
Mixed in with this fantastic Festival week was the opportunity for 12 teams to play matches on Cardiff Arms Park-an opportunity seized and enjoyed by an excited group of players. The teams used the official Dressing Rooms and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
The spirit and ethos of Golden Oldies was honoured by all teams and players and supported and encouraged by the welcome band of referees.
Eleven Octogenarians were honoured on the stage at the Finale Awards Dinner with our true Golden Oldie being Norm, an enthusiastic Aussie aged 87 who is already in ‘training’ for Christchurch 2018.
“I played in this festival at the age of 43 and thought I was old. I am in awe of these gents who epitomise what our great game is all about … Together in rugby!!”
– Gareth Evans enjoying his first experience of Golden Oldies Rugby.
The Finale Awards Dinner was staged on the field at Principality and included a decent three course meal and an abundance of welcoming beverages. The entertainment was led by the Rock Choir, a group of outstanding woman who have formed a brilliant amateur choir. Performing a wide range of easy listening light rock music, the Choir were a huge hit with the attendees. Phil Steele was again an outstanding MC and a series of popular awards were presented. The upcoming Christchurch Festival Ambassador, Sir Graham Henry provided a pre-recorded invite for all teams and their supporters to visit the city where he grew up, Christchurch for the 2018 Golden Oldies Rugby Festival. The function featured the launch of the outstanding Festival Video Journey to Cardiff Golden Oldies Festival still available on You Tube, our websites and already viewed by tens of thousands of rugby supporters throughout the world.
The Festival was honoured to have supported the fantastic Rugby Charity, Wooden Spoon. The Charity were active in their support of the Festival and were welcomed to the Grounds, Functions and all associated activities. Though details are still being finalised, it does appear that we have come very close to achieving our target of £30,000 for the Charity through various fund-raising activities and generous donations. Golden Oldies Rugby will be pleased to top up the fund ensuring that the charity benefits by £30,000.
“Another great day in this fantastic rugby festival; Tournament Director Paul Guest and all of the Golden Oldies people should take a bow. The organisation all week has been superb – looking after over 150 teams with players from over 40 counties; it’s been an absolute privilege on my part to have been involved. Farewell dinner tomorrow night on the Principality Stadium pitch (with the roof shut obviously!) and with Phil Steele once again acting as MC it should be an appropriate ending to the week which everyone is looking forward to”.
– Gareth Thomas, Chairman of Cardiff and District Rugby.
And mixed in with all this was the opportunity for 12 teams to play matches on Cardiff Arms Park-an opportunity seized and enjoyed by an excited group of players. The teams used the official Dressing Rooms and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
The Cardiff Golden Oldies Rugby Festival, being the 21st World Golden Oldies Festival since 1979, was marked by the special publication “For the Love of the Game” distributed to all teams who took part.
The Festival was many things to many people but the overwhelming reaction from those involved was that it was among the best and something to be remembered. Golden Oldies Rugby is grateful for all the support and assistance provided including, but not confined to:
- The wonderful team of volunteers who made life so much easier for all who attended.
- The enthusiastic and popular referees who have formed the basis of the newly formed International Golden Oldies Rugby Referees Association.
- The wonderful people at Principality Stadium whose catering and service ensured no-one could have gone home hungry or thirsty.
- The members of the Rumney Rugby Club who provided hospitality and friendship at the Grounds.
- The fantastic people at the Wooden Spoon Charity.
- The brilliant Ambassadors and supporters, Nigel Owens, J P R Williams, Adrian Hadley and Phil Steele.
- The wonderful Choirs and Brass Band who performed at the Opening and Closing Functions.
- The Medical Personnel who worked hard to patch up those who suffered the variety of injuries.
- Guinness Book of Records Official Adjudicator.
- Team managers who work so hard to keep the administration updated and on their toes.
And to all team members, supporters, friends and families-a special thanks. Since 1979, Golden Oldies World Rugby Festivals have provided fun, friendship and camaraderie amongst so many teams and players. Thanks for your continued support and the prospect of much more to come.
“Top class fun! Really enjoyed the week! Hats off to The Golden Oldies.”
– David Rees
Feature speaker at the Finale Dinner was Wales Rugby legend, Clive Rowlands.
Clive’s stellar playing career was remarkable, for the fact that he captained Wales in every match he played. After retiring, he became the youngest person to coach the Welsh national team, during which they won the Grand Slam.
His amusing and entertaining address was confirmation of rugby as an integral part of Welsh culture.