Our esteemed President, Angus Bruxner, gave another rousing summary of the 2022 season at the Sydney Harlequins Awards Night last Friday. Hosted by our friends at Easts Rugby, it was a fantastic opportunity to celebrate some of our best and fairest with our friends and better halves.
Here's Angus' speech in full:
A Sydney Harlequins’ Presentation Function is probably the most important event on the club’s calendar because it allows us to recognise and reward a number of deserving Quins for their achievements and contributions during the preceding Rugby season.
On a personal level, I remain both grateful for and proud of what you have achieved, not only on the playing field, but for the indomitable spirit and camaraderie which you have created within your club. The solidarity and loyalty which exists amongst you as club mates accurately reflects the original motto of the club, namely cohaereamus: meaning ‘we stick together’.
2022 Annual General Meeting
The following Office Bearers and Executive Committee Members were duly elected at the Annual General Meeting held on 24 March 2022:
Rohan Aalders as Vice-President, Anthony Murray as Secretary, Tom Taylor as Treasurer, Max Bound, Niall Fry, Bruce Gordon, Alex Koerber, Stu Oliver, Andy Pettler and Anik Ray as General Committee members, and myself as President.
I thank all members of the Executive Committee for the invaluable contribution which you have each made during another challenging Rugby season.
Mere words can never be enough to convey our gratitude to Rohan for the exemplary manner in which he fulfils the many responsibilities which he embraces on behalf of your club. Rohan is to be commended not only for his loyal and unstinting commitment to the ongoing development and wellbeing of Sydney Harlequins, but also for the amicable and cooperative manner in which he deals with the representatives of the other Subbies clubs with whom we interact. I am well aware of the excellent reputation which Rohan possesses within Subbies Rugby generally.
There are many other people who have made, and continue to make, similar contributions to the ethos and level of camaraderie which exists within the club.
Anthony Murray initially served on the 2020 Executive Committee, and was at the forefront of driving our Colts Committee in developing a Colts program and assisting then Club Secretary Dan Barrett in recruiting ARs and referees.
Muzz has fulfilled the role of Club Secretary in exemplary fashion during the past two years. Being a great communicator himself, Muzz has revolutionised the club’s website and social media platforms. What particularly pleases me is that he really has his finger on the pulse of the club, and that he is managing to relieve Rohan of some of the administrative duties which he has been performing during recent years.
Muzz has continued to run the line regularly for 1st and 2nd grade, usually after playing his enthusiastic brand of Rugby in our 3rd XV.
Muzz – thank you for your effervescent personality, your ability to initiate and implement action, and the direct and invaluable contribution you make both on and off the playing field.
Tom Taylor has again acted as our Treasurer in 2022. Having been a member of the original 2004 Quins playing squad Tom holds this Club in the highest esteem. We are grateful to Tom for his continuing sterling service in ensuring that the Club’s financial affairs are monitored and protected so well.
Brendan Welch has continued to fulfil his role as Club Captain in admirable fashion in 2022. Whilst it was sad to see him hang up his boots at the conclusion of the 2021 season, Brendo’s own style of club captaincy reflects the unique elements of skill, niggle, humour, and grit which he displayed as a player.
I also thank everyone within the club who assisted Brendo in organising match days and other events.
2022 Rugby Season
The havoc wreaked by two years of COVID-19 necessitated the restructuring of the three top divisions of the competition in 2022. Although the merger of Divisions 2 and 3 as a single Division 2 competition presented a significant challenge for Sydney Harlequins you can all be extremely proud of your achievements on the playing field.
The experience of playing the Division 2 clubs can be the catalyst for moulding our future aspirations within Subbies Rugby. Whilst the clubs who will participate in Divisions 1, 2 and 3 are yet to be determined, Subbies are seeking to again structure those divisions as 8 club competitions. Whatever transpires, we must consider the level of Rugby to which we aspire and apply ourselves accordingly. I certainly remain confident that, once normality returns, Sydney Harlequins will again acquit themselves successfully on the playing field in 2023.
Sydney Harlequins was again granted dispensation for Easts 4th grade Colts team to participate as Sydney Harlequins’ Robertson Cup team in 2022.
It is great to see Chris Groves and so many of his Easts Colts players present with us tonight. Chris – I can assure you and your players that you are an important component of Sydney Harlequins and our aspirations for the future.
We are all extremely proud of your achievement in reaching the 2022 Grand Final of the Robertson Cup, and for the manner in which you acquitted yourselves against minor premiers Lindfield. Your successful season, and the relationship which continues to evolve between the Quins and Easts demonstrates that interaction and cooperation between a Subbies club and a Shute Shield club can only be positive for Rugby in general.
We look forward to expanding the level of rapport which already exists between our two clubs. Indeed, as your players conclude their time in Colts it would be wonderful to see many of them transition to senior Rugby by becoming permanent members of Sydney Harlequins. We will be increasingly working towards such an outcome.
The establishment of a Colts program is essential, not only for our own progression within Subbies Rugby, but for the future development and benefit of the game itself. We must therefore increase our efforts to attract Colts-level players and coaches so as to establish a viable Colts program within our club.
Niall Fry continues to pursue our objective of developing a Colts strategy aimed at recruiting Colts-aged players, and coaches as part of the program. However, the support of all Quins is essential if we are to succeed in establishing a viable Colts program in the future.
Rohan Aalders continued as our 1st grade coach in 2022.
Roh – I know how difficult it has been for you to maintain continuity in key playing positions due to injuries and the other unavoidable absences experienced by your squad. Notwithstanding these obstacles, you and your players demonstrated that they really could compete successfully against the more seasoned Division 2 level clubs. You can all be proud of your efforts in finishing behind only Hawkesbury Valley as the leading former Division 3 club in the Barraclough Cup.
To Paul Morgan I say thank you for exhibiting your ongoing loyalty to the Quins by again fulfilling the role of 2nd grade coach. Paul – through your personal experience and knowledge you continue to exhibit a mature and thoughtful attitude to your coaching role.
Congratulations to you and your team in qualifying for the Stockdale Cup finals. I was devastated for you and, indeed, your players when COVID prevented you from being on the sideline for the qualifying final against Newport. The way your boys played, and the 15-10 result showed that they could have so easily progressed further in the hunt for a premiership.
I trust that you are willing to continue coaching in 2023 because I believe the future augurs well for any team having you as its coach and mentor.
Ardi Haimona again assumed the mantle of 3rd grade coach in 2022. In fact, more often than not Ardi effectively fulfilled the role of captain-coach when he frequently ran onto the playing field.
Ardi was awarded the John Dougan Memorial Award in 2011 when he was a member of the Jeffrey Cup premiership team. Consequently, watching Ardi streaking down the sideline for 1st grade in the final round against Blacktown certainly reminded Rohan, Max, and me that he has indeed been one of the most gifted and resilient players to have represented Sydney Harlequins.
Ardi’s genuine affinity with his 3rd grade players, and his enthusiastic approach to coaching clearly reflect his love for this club and the attributes which he has always exhibited both on and off the playing field.
Several key personnel contributed to ensuring that Sydney Harlequins enjoyed a safe and enjoyable season in 2022.
Bruce Gordon has continued to provide magnificent service as our physio and strapper, going above and beyond what might be expected of him by fulfilling those tasks at every match and training session.
Bruce – thank you for your loyalty and commitment in fulfilling this extremely important role with great professionalism. By exhibiting the ultimate level of care for our players which you do, you are deserving of the confidence which they clearly have in you.
We also thank Anik Ray for his continuing devotion to the welfare of the club. Having been at the forefront of steering us through the COVID years, Anik again contributed his on-field trainer services in exemplary fashion. There was no better example of his devotion to duty than when he and Harry Forsyth moved so promptly and caringly to the aid of one of our Easts players who was seriously injured whilst playing Beecroft.
In fulfilling his role as our skilled and empathetic on-field trainer and medic, Harry Forsyth’s tireless efforts for our players has been indispensable. Knowing that Harry loves being associated with this club, it is gratifying that he has already signalled his intention to be there for us again next year.
The mandatory requirement that all Subbies clubs must recruit a minimum number of qualified referees and assistant referees (ARs) remains in place, and we will continue to recruit in order to ensure that we have a minimum of 3 qualified referees and 5 qualified ARs prior to commencement of the 2023 season.
Notwithstanding his 1st grade coaching duties, Rohan continued to run the line in earlier matches on a regular basis. Anthony Murray, Daryl Pon and Matt Nobes continued to provide sterling service as our Assistant Referees in conjunction with their playing commitments.
Old Boys Network
Every Quin who has played for and otherwise supported the club since it was established in 2004 can feel proud of their contribution to the achievements of Sydney Harlequins.
I again thank Stu Oliver and Ant Murray for their great work in continuing to promote the Old Boys network. One only has to witness the involvement of their ‘old boys’ in the match day activities of the 2nd Division clubs to recognise that the active involvement of our ‘Old Boys’ is essential to the future success of Sydney Harlequins.
We welcome several of our ‘Old Boys’ this evening, and I thank Stu and each one of you for contributing to this important event by taking a table for the occasion.
The Glenroy Hotel has continued as our major sponsor in 2022. On behalf of the club, I extend our gratitude to Trevor and Simone Walker as owners and Warren Martin as senior manager of The Glenroy for making us feel so welcome in 2022. They continue to provide terrific service within what is a perfect venue for our post-match and other festivities. We look forward to patronising The Glenroy again in 2023.
Our great game continues to face the challenges presented by rival codes, and what might be perceived as a waning in support for Rugby in Australia. The 2023 Rugby World Cup in France and then Australia’s hosting of the 2027 Rugby World Cup will provide an impetus for the game in this country.
As this impetus within the game develops, Sydney Harlequins are as well-equipped as ever to deliver with a renewed passion and commitment directed at strengthening their position within the Rugby community.
As you all contribute to the magnificent culture which exists within Sydney Harlequins, I know that you will value your involvement in the club and with your club mates for the remainder of your lives.
100 Game Blazers
The awarding of a “100 game” blazer to a deserving Quin recognises his loyal and sterling service to this Club.
It is a significant achievement to have played 100 games for Sydney Harlequins because in order to do so a player must have committed himself to at least six or seven years of constant Rugby. All recipients of “100 game” blazers have displayed the highest levels of commitment and loyalty to Sydney Harlequins – an attribute which epitomises what this Club is all about.
I again thank my wonderful wife Marj for her love and encouragement, and for allowing me to commit the time and passion which I seek to devote to Sydney Harlequins and to Rugby in general. Having regard to her support of Sydney Harlequins during the past 19 years and of me during more than 50 years, and the affection which I know she feels for each of you, Rohan and I agreed that it is appropriate that Marj should present their blazers to these most deserving ‘100 Game’ Quins.
20 Quins have achieved this milestone and it is gratifying to see several blazers on display tonight. Adam Packer and Logan Melville have now qualified to join this select group of Quins.
I ask Adam and Loges to step forward to receive their blazers from Marj in recognition of having played 100 matches for Sydney Harlequins.
MANAGERS’ SPIRIT OF RUGBY AWARD
In maintaining his loyalty and commitment to our club through his combined roles as Executive Committee member, Manager, Registrar, Scorer and ‘keeper of the jerseys,’ the contribution which Max Bound makes throughout the Rugby season cannot be praised too highly. Whilst he could not be with us tonight, I thank Max for what he continues to do for the club and for his loyal support to me personally.
In Max’s absence I invite Peter Little to join me in presenting the 2022 Managers’ Spirit of Rugby Awards. For those of you who may not have had much interaction with Peter this year, I can explain that following his playing days Peter enjoyed a long and successful career as a Rugby referee. He came to know Sydney Harlequins through refereeing us on many occasions. As he had retired from refereeing, I persuaded him to join our ranks and assist Max and myself on match days. He has done so in splendid fashion, and I thank you for that and your friendship Pete.
I am pleased to announce two sterling members of our 3rd XV, namely Tom Neilson and Irakly Chkhenkeli, as the winners of the 2022 Managers’ Spirit of Rugby awards.
The enigmatic Tom Neilson can be a coach’s nightmare in terms of following directions on the playing field. Just ask Ardi, particularly in relation to kicking in general play. However, in addition to leading his team around the paddock in sterlking fashion, Tom is always there on the sideline encouraging his clubmates for the entirety of match days, and he is always prepared to pitch in and assist when help is required.
During his time with the club, Irakly has displayed his own special attributes of Georgian tenacity and loyalty, and a unique sense of fun and good humour. A key member of the front row, Irakly always puts in a lionhearted effort regardless of the opposition.
Tom and Irakly are indeed both valuable clubmen whom I know hold this club in the highest regard. It gives Max, Peter, and me great pleasure to reward them for their service tonight.
TIM BRUXNER CUP – CLUB PATRON’S AWARD
The Tim Bruxner Cup is named in memory of my late father, a Foundation Club Patron, and Foundation Life Member of Sydney Harlequins. Since Dad’s death in August 2017, the honour of selecting the winner of The Tim Bruxner Cup has rested with me.
The person whom I have identified as representing the qualities which Dad valued so highly is, indeed, an outstanding Quin and citizen. He has made an invaluable contribution as a tough and industrious member of the 3rd XV forward pack, and he has frequently stepped up and performed admirably in 2nd grade.
As a current member of the Executive Committee, he provides invaluable insights and formulates and implements initiatives directed at promoting the best interests of the Club. He always puts his hand up when assistance is needed on and around match day.
I thank him for his friendship and exuberant personality, and the enthusiastic contribution which he makes both on and off the playing field.
It is therefore with great pleasure that I announce Niall Fry as the winner of the 2022 Tim Bruxner Cup.
High-spirited, indestructible, resilient, and indispensable are just four words which describe our next award winner. He has made an indelible contribution to the fabric of Sydney Harlequins since he first joined the club in 2009.
A mainstay of our 1st XV backlines during the mid-2000s, it was fitting that Ardi was a member of the 2011 Jeffrey Cup premiership team and was awarded the John Dougan Memorial Award in 2011.
Ardi’s infectious personality and enthusiasm for the game will increasingly mould him into being an excellent coach of Rugby players.
I regard him as a good mate, and I thank him for the loyalty, integrity and commitment which accompanies every aspect of his involvement with the club.
Melle – we are more than grateful that you allow him to come out to play!!
The more than deserving winner of the 2022 President’s Cup is Ardi Haimona.