Welsh wizard joins in celebrations
Rugby legend Gareth Edwards is the jewel in Norwich Union RFC's 75th anniversary celebrations at Pinebanks this weekend. Edwards will join fellow British Lions tourist and RFU presidential contender Bob Taylor as an after-dinner speaker at the club's end-of-season awards bash tomorrow night.
Rugby legend Gareth Edwards is the jewel in Norwich Union RFC's 75th anniversary celebrations at Pinebanks this weekend.
Edwards will join fellow British Lions tourist and RFU presidential contender Bob Taylor as an after-dinner speaker at the club's end-of-season awards bash tomorrow night.
The mesmeric scrum half won three Grand Slams and five Triple Crowns during the golden era of Welsh rugby in the 1970s.
Edwards also touched down for what many regard as the game's greatest ever score when he finished a sublime Barbarians move against the fearsome All Blacks at Cardiff Arms Park in 1973.
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A selection of Norwich Union old boys will have a much gentler workout against the club's second XV on Saturday before an Eastern Counties select faces the first XV on Sunday (both kick offs 11.30am) to cap a memorable celebration for Norfolk's second-oldest club.
“We've had various events throughout the year but this weekend will be the ultimate,” said secretary Steve Knights. “It's took a tremendous amount of organisation on the part of so many people. We sat down a couple of years ago and thought what could we do to commemorate 75 years. To have somebody like Gareth Edwards is quite a coup because he still has a huge profile in the game.
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“There should be in the region of 140 at Friday's dinner - with former players coming from America, Europe and across Britain. We've got more than 40 who've agreed to turn out on Saturday. I expect that will turn into something of a leisurely stroll compared to Sunday's game which will certainly be a bit more competitive.”
The Eastern Counties Division two side went back to its roots this season with club sponsor Haiku donating two playing strips in Norwich Union's original 1930's styling.
Rugby's amateur ethos still thrives at the homely Pinebanks outfit with tours to Estonia, Cologne and Barcelona in recent years but the club also has a famous family link to England's World Cup winning-hero Jonny Wilkinson.
“His grandfather (Pip) was a former vice-president,” said Mr Knights. “Jonny's Dad (Phil) was a regular player in the 1970s and I believe keeps in touch with some of his former team mates. He's attended annual dinners in the past but unfortunately cannot make it this weekend.”