History of Juniors

History of Juniors

THE FIRST DECADE — 1985-1995

OCRUFC first competed in the South Australian Rugby Union’s division one senior competition in 1937.  In 1985, nearly 50 years later, the OC’s Junior Rugby Club was formed.

Prior to 1985, OCs successfully fielded one U/18 team each year from 1977-1982 with John Graham/Jamie Perkins, Bob Stafford-Lee then Grant Grace/Roy (Mickey) Finn, respectively, training/managing the teams.  In 1982, a solid group of 19 players did OCs proud with Grant Grace coaching and Mickey Finn managing the team. The team made the Grand Final to be beaten by Brighton in a close match, 15 to 14.  Three members of the team, Michael Raymond, Sean Hopkinson and Tony Wynne went on to play many years in OC’s first grade side. Other U/18 players of this time went on to contribute much to OCs on and off the pitch in their later years — David Pyper, President (2017) and sponsor, and George Mocatta, father of a junior and generous sponsor of the Club.  The U/18 teams were a definite benefit to OCs, both at the time and through some of the members playing senior rugby in future years. 

But after 1982, OCs was, again, without juniors.

During the previous years, the Club was successful in senior competitions with many of the players coming from the eastern states of Australia and overseas, mainly for business or study commitments. However, during the late-1970s, this stream of players who added to OC’s playing strength was drying up, mainly because of the weakening Australian economy at the time.  The need for juniors was spoken about but not enacted — we needed to develop our own players was the call.

At the Club presentation dinner in 1984, Peter Allen and Howard Clay, together, agreed to nominate for President and Vice-President of the Club, respectively, in 1985 with the expressed and independent view of setting up junior rugby in OCs.  They were duly appointed and Howard chaired the first Junior Committee in 1985.  In early-1985, he presented a paper to the Club’s Management Committee recommending the establishment of a Junior Club in OCs. The proposal was well supported.  A synopsis on the following actions and development of the Junior Club reported in the Management Committee’s minutes, 1985-87, are given in Attachment 1.

OCs was rather fortunate at the time — in 1985, the South Australian Rugby Union sanctioned rugby clubs to seek sponsorship and advertise such on players’ strip — first time for rugby in SA.  Clay Insurances sponsored the fledgling juniors and OCs also received sponsorship from Malaysian Airlines, Venture Holidays and Linx Computers (Hamish Cranna).  These sponsorships gave a marvellous boost to OC’s funds and allowed financial investment in setting up the junior club.

In the early days, Howard Clay, Ian Walker, Grant Grace followed by Peter (Jesse) James contributed to the leadership of the newly-formed OC’s juniors —each playing an important role with their differing leadership styles.  The Brady and Turner families were also in the thick of the action in the formative years. Senior players, Peter (Doc) Douglas, Richard Waddicor and Tim Farrah were among the early coaches, together with Lee Lechleitner and Ken May.  Players’ parents became more active in managing teams and raising funds for the junior club during the formative years. 

Recruiting young players in the first instance mainly involved paid letter drops to selected, local postcodes through Australia Post, children of Club members, canvassing schools and encouraging peer group pressure with friends of the players. Peter Fairs, a senior master at St Peter’s College and a rugby-tragic, acted as a strong advocate for the newly-forming club and was instrumental in recruiting junior players.

After three years, the Junior Club was considered to be established and was expanding.  In 1990, Clay and Walker submitted a five-year development plan to take the Junior Club to the next level (Attachment 2).  This plan clearly explained the needs and challenges facing the further development of the Junior Club — their recommendation for OCs to employ a Junior Development Officer was not taken up by the Management Committee, but the philosophy and details of the Plan were a strong basis for the successful future of OCRUFC Junior Rugby Club.

The Junior Club was seen as a Club that “did not wish to inculate a win at all-costs mentality, however, winning should be seen as a part of the balanced enjoyment of the game.”   The Club was also seen as a need to “create an environment in which the child’s choice of winter sport is rugby, rugby or rugby.”


Note: In 2020, OCs had 158 registered juniors, starting with U/7s playing invitation matches and U/7, U/8, U/10, U/12, U/14, U/16 and U/18 teams playing in RUSA competitions, with U/18s being Premiers — a rewarding legacy many years later to the early contributors to the establishment of OC’s Junior Rugby Club.


Attachment 1: A Synopsis of the Formation of the Old Collegians Rugby Football Club Juniors

(Details extracted from the OCRFC’s Management Committee’s minutes, 1985-1987)

Meeting Date:

3 December 1984:    The need for OCRFC Juniors suggested (Howard Clay/Peter Allen).  Start with U/8 and U/10.

7 January 1985:        St Ignatius approached for junior players.

18 February 1985:     Elizabeth offered U/16 side at Blackfriars, complete with gear.  U/10 team in hand for mid-term.

18 March 1985:         Juniors still in planning stage.

22 April 1985:            Howard Clay presented a paper on recommendations to set up juniors in OCRFC.  Peter Fairs agreed to promote the cause and approached Marryatville HS, Pulteney and St Peters.  Clay Insurances sponsored the development of the Juniors.

13 May 1985:            Coaching assistance given to Pulteney and Black Friars.  Organising letter and post drop by Australia Post in postcode 5064 to seek new players.

17 June 1985:            Four responses to letter – two are playing.  Seven to eight new players are turning up each week.  Letter drop will be made to postcode 5065.

15 July 1985:             Fifteen U/10s training.  Donation from New Zealand Bank for jerseys.

26 September 1985:  OCRFC gave $500 to Young Collegians to open junior bank account — two signatories required.  Next year money will be raised by fees.

16 October 1985:       Parents seem dedicated to help next year, but half of the juniors are from non-rugby families.

13 January 1986:       Team planned for the U/10 competition.  U/8 matches planned against Onkaparinga and Pt. Adelaide.  A further letter drop planned.  

14 April 1986:             U/8 team competing against Onkaparinga, Pt Adelaide and Burnside.  U/10 team playing in SAJRU competition.  Peter Fairs still working with schools — gained six to seven players from Linden Park Primary School.

12 May 1986:             Successful schools 7-a-side Junior Finals held at OCRFC — compliments from the President of the SA Schoolboys Union.  Letter drop planned for two more postcodes.  Have the basis for another U/10 side.

16 June 1986:            Another letter drop carried out.  More youngsters are coming out.  Good parent support.

21 July 1986:             Coaches arranged for 1987.

18 August 1986:         Season ended with U/8, U/10, U/12 sides.  Congratulations for H. Clay for excellent year with juniors.

27 October 1986:       Will have two/three teams in approaching U/10 touch competition, $300 donated to Juniors for T-shirts.  Praise from SARU for our Juniors.

19 January 1987:       Starting to plan Junior coaches/managers for coming season.  More effort is going into schools.  Pre-season wine (Hazelgrove Wines) and cheese night planned for junior parents.

16 March 1987:         U/16s are training.  Heathfield PS has fourteen youngsters wanting to play.  A composite OC/Waratahs team looking good (U/?).

13 April 1987:             Now running U/16, U/12, U/10 and U/8.  Shaky start but now have 15 out to U/16 training.

6 July 1987:                U/16’s first win (against Onkaparinga). One player in U/16 side and three players in U/12 selected for relevant State sides.

3 August 1987:            U/16s may get in the top four.

31 August 1987:          All junior teams made the finals. 

                                    In 1988, OCRFC will have 3 x U/9, U/11, U/13, U/15 and U/17 teams.




Compiled by Peter G Allen

President, OCRFC, 1985-1987.