“PEOPLE ARE OUR GREATEST ASSETS”: 45 YEARS OF SOCIETE GENERALE VALLEY RFC

08 Sep 2020

Valley RFC isn’t just about rugby. It’s about inclusiveness and a willingness to adapt. From barely enough people for a single rugby team in 1975, Valley RFC has grown over the past 45 years, to a membership of thousands offering Women, Men, Youth and Children the opportunity to play Hockey, Netball and Mini-Rugby. To mark their 45th year, we caught up with Grant Beuzeval, General Manager of Valley RFC, to share all things Valley through the decades.

 

I. 1975 Origins - Valley RFC

Valley RFCoriginated from the Police RFC who in 1975, decided that if you weren’t employed by the Police then you couldn’t play for them. This meant that former Policemen now in the private sector, and in a newly formed Police Anti-corruption Unit, had no club to play for. At the time, the only civilian rugby clubs in Hong Kong were the long established Hong Kong Football Club and a YMCA team (which evolved into Kowloon RFC in 1976). In the beginning, the small ICAC rugby group had called themselves “The Exiles”. On 19 June 1975, a meeting (14 persons from the private sector and the Royal Navy) was convened at the China Fleet Club to form a new club.

 

A full account of Valley’s early beginnings can be found at https://www.valleyrfc.com/a/cl...

 

II. Where did the name “Valley” originate?

Most of this newly formed group lived on Victoria Island, where the only public rugby ground was in Happy Valley - and so the group’s name was changed from “The Exiles” to “Valley RFC”.

 

III. Where did the “Chess Knight” logo come from?

As the rugby ground was situated in the middle of Happy Valley racecourse, famous for itsHorse Races,  the Head of a Horse, a “Chess Knight” became the logo.

As new teams were added, they were subsequently named following the chess piece-equine theme - Valley Knights, Valley Jockeys, Valley Mustangs, Valley Griffins and so on.

The team colours were Black and Yellow, and theFrench bank, Banque National de Paris (BNP) were an early Valley RFC sponsor.

 


IV. The first season: The 1975-1976 Valley RFC Mens Team

Top L - Rick Handforth, Mike Williams, Frank Golden, Andrew Sparkes, Dick Airth, Roy Taylor, Tony Robey, Dave Kendall.

Front L- Jim Chandler, Tim Scott, Iain Peggs, Roland Campistron, Thierry Duffilot, Roger Mathews, John Cartwright, Arnie Highfield, Jem Benwell

 


V.  Early Honours

* HKSRFUR 31 Trophy 1975-1976

The “HKSRFUR 31” Trophy was awarded by the Referees Society to the 1975-1976 Valley RFC Mens Team for ‘enhancing the spirit of the game’.

 

* Blarneystone Sevens 1980

Valley RFC Mens won the Hong Kong Football Club-hosted Blarneystone Sevens in 1980, which at that time, served as the HKRFU’s Annual Sevens championship 



VI.  Grand Slam Champions 1989-1990

Valley RFC Mens did not win the League until the 1989-1990 season, some 15 years after founding.

However, this year marked the “Grand Slam” season, with Valley becoming the first club to achieve an unprecedented clean sweep treble, by winning all three top flight trophies then on offer, comprising the League, the Grand Championship and the Knockout.

 

 

VII. Recent History

 

The Valley Men’s and Women’s Premiership teams have continuously been at the pointy end of their leagues and knock outs with a peerless record.

 

Since 1989/90, Valley Men have won 16 League Titles and 16 Grand Championship wins, including a streak of 6 successive Grand Final wins from 2012/12 to 2017/2018 and a run of 10 successive League Titles from 1993/94 to 2002/03.

 

Not to be outdone, the Valley Women’s Premiership team, over the past 13 seasons, have won 9 Grand Championships and 9 League titles. To underscore their dominance, Valley Black Ladies remained undefeated for a record 54 consecutive matches, across three seasons since 2015.

 

From barely enough players to constitute a team in its beginnings, today Valley RFC fields 5 Mens Rugby Teams, namely the Premiership, Valley Knights, Valley Mavericks, Valley Griffins and the Valley Ma Jais all of whom have had a share of the silverware over the decades.

 

VIII. Hockey and Netball

Admitting a Valley Women’s Hockey Team to membership in 1981, to a then exclusively Men’s club, was the best decision Valley RFC ever made.

 

The 1981 team finished 3rd in the local Women’s Hockey League and their addition to Valley RFC led to the establishment of a Valley RFC Men’s Hockey Section, a Valley RFC Women’s Netball Section[1987] and in due course, a Valley RFC Women’s Rugby Section [1990].

 

Today, there are 5 Valley RFC Women's Hockey Teams, 6 Valley RFC Men’s Hockey Teams and 11 netball teams.

 


Coming up 40 years after the 1981 founding of the Valley RFC Womens Hockey Section,HongKong born Ms Ika Lo, in August of 2018 chalked up her 100th Hong Kong Cap as Captain, both of the Valley RFC Women’s Hockey Team and the 2018 Asian Games Hong Kong Women’s Hockey Team.



As of 2020, Valley RFC Netball has 11 teams across 7 different Hong Kong Netball league divisions, caters for players of all levels and is Hong Kong’s largest Netball club

 

IX. Valley Fort RFC - Mini & Youth - 1979

With over 600 playing members, boys and girls included, Valley Fort RFC is among the oldest of the mini and youth rugby clubs in Hong Kong. It was founded in 1979 through the merger of Stanley Fort RFC and Valley RFC.

The original training ground was Stanley Fort – at the time, the Hong Kong island home of the British Garrison and now the base of the People’s Liberation Army.

Some teams continue to train at the Fort.

Valley Fort RFC is now one of the largest junior clubs in Hong Kong and have added training venues in Tai Tam, Aberdeen and Happy Valley.

 

 

X. The day Valley RFC played the All Blacks - Thursday 29 March 1984

Just before the 1984 HK Sevens, the Canterbury Rugby Union, New Zealands then champion team and holders of the Ranfurly Shield, told the HKRU that the champion team was coming to The Sevens. The side contained 7 All Blacks.

NZer, Valley RFC Chairman, John Barrett, organised a Valley ‘Presidents’ Select Team and invited players from other clubs to be a part of it.

HKFC offered their pitch and facilities and organised sponsorship through another NZer and HKFC Club Captain, Dave Bouzaid, of NZ Insurance. And of course NZ Insurance paid for ground hire, after match function, booze and food - all on promises that the SCMP would make special mention of the hosting by Club and of NZ Insurance, which was not a problem since Valley RFC’s Jamie Scott was SCMP rugby correspondent at the time,.

 


Valley borrowed a few Canterbury players, including a couple of All Blacks as well as former All Black and then Canterbury coach Grizz Wylie.

 

The All Black Fullback, Andrew McMaster, complained about having to play for Valley -“My God, please don’t make me play for them,please!

 

Another Canterbury player was overjoyed that the Canterbury coach Grizz Wylie, was going to play for the Valley Presidents side. “I hope I get my hands on that bastard. I don’t even mind if I get sent off!” It was the week of the HK Sevens and a couple of 1000 or so, including participating teams packed into the HKFC ground to watch 7 All Blacks do their stuff.

 

Canterbury scored about 10 trys. Valley Presidents scored 2 or 3 - all of them by then All Black Wing, Craig Green, who didn’t at all mind having to play for the Valley side. Grizz Wylie, their coach made a brief appearance, but was smart enough never to get into a contact situation.

 

There were a couple of punch ups, but these were between the legendary All Black, John Ashworth and Murray Davie, (playing for Valley) both of them Canterbury team mates on holiday on opposing front rows.

 

XI. Giving to the Community - $50 million raised for charity since 1990

Valley RFC was formed by people who care and that is reflected in the history of their charitable work - efforts unmatched by any other social-sports club.

 

Since the early 90’s, Valley RFC has raised and donated tens of millions of  dollars - as a conservative estimate, $50 million over 30 years - through its now annual Valley Sevens Long Lunch and Valley Sevens Beer Tent.

More recently, Valley RFC have got behind Food Drive, Feeding Hong Kong and Harmony House. Their latest venture, the “Everest Challenge” in July 2020, with relay teams running up and down a set of pedestrian steps in Central, involved all of their Rugby, Hockey, Netball and Mini Rugby sections and sponsors and raised $247,000 for local charity.

 

 

XII. Valley RFC Administrators—Paying itback to HKRU and World Rugby

Many Valley RFC players, coaches and administrators moved on from the club to serve the HKRU and the wider rugby community both locally and internationally, putting into practice and making contributions to them as they used to do only for Valley RFC.

 

Valley RFC Founder members, Jamie Scott, Tony Robey and Dick Airth served as HKRU Secretaries and Hong Kong Sevens Tournament Directors in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

 

The club have provided many Hong Kong Coaches and Team Managers, including Ian Brownlee, Rodney Macintosh, Brian Higgins, Mark Fatialofa, John Barrett and Sean Murphy.

 

Former Valley RFC Women’s and Hong Kong Captain, Samantha Feausi, now serves as the HKRU’s first Women’s Rugby Development Manager.

 

Valley RFC’s first Grand Championships Captain, Pieter Schats served as the HKRU’s first Chief Executive in the 1990’s and more recently as HKRU Chairman.

 

Jamie Scott served Asian Regional and World Rugby and was a Council Member of the world governing International Rugby Board from 2000 to 2007.

 

  International Rugby Board Council Meeting 2007

 

XIII. Valley RFC World Record Holders -1992 and 1994

On 27 Oct 1994, Hong Kong set a world record for the highest score at a World Cup qualifying tournament with a 164-13 win over Singapore at the 14th Asian Rugby Football Tournament in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In the same match, Valley RFC’s Ashley Billington’s tally of  50 points (10 Trys) and Valley RFC’s fly-half Jamie McKee's 17 conversions set new international records.

 

Hong Kong had lost a crucial RWC 1995 qualifying match against Japan 4 days prior to their 164 to 13 blitzing of Singapore. To allay that disappointment, it was decided to "break the world record" instead. The only statistic that was not recorded was the number of Singapore’s missed tackles.

 

Jamie McKees record was eclipsed by Simon Culhane who kicked 20 of 21 attempts in the All Blacks 145 to 17 demolition of Japan at the 1995 RWC.

 

Ashley Billington's  50 (10Trys) remains the highest individual tally in an international match.

 

But they were not the first of the clubs ‘world record holders. Valley RFC and Hong Kong Sevens player Geoff Piper scored all 38 points in a 1992 HK vs Chinese Taipei (38 Nil) match which bettered the highest (33) individual tally at the time.

 

Jeff Piper 38 points (1992)

 

 

 

So there you have it, a snapshot of Valley RFC’s fantastic 45-year history. Best of luck in the upcoming season Valley!

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