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St. Brendan's is famed for success on the rugby field.|
Whilst the game was well established prior to the sixties, there's arguably two people to truly thank for creating an unprecedented era.
The first was former old boy John Blake. A Bristol RFC player in the late fifties he transferred his skills to the fields of Broomhill Road. He was already making a big name for himself in the world of rugby union and with tremendous good fortune for the school, John accepted the post of history and sports master in 1962.
He wasn't alone in his love of the game. Elwyn Price, the well remembered and much respected sports master had laid a foundation and enthusiastically trained player after player. Elwyn's ability to spot star potential was inspirational. You couldn't help but believe his other teaching subject, 'history' was nothing more than a distraction from his love of sport. Many a pupil can still hear Elwyn bellowing “press, press” with his glorious welsh accent, as he managed to squeeze press-up after press-up from his pupils, on the shiny floor of the school gym.
Add RFC player Peter Colston (another former pupil and then teacher) to the equation and what a trio you had! (Peter went on to become England Rugby Coach after he left the St.Brendan's teaching staff).
John Blake's success on the rugby pitch was known and revered by almost every pupil and arguably this old boy/teacher performing so well at such a high level was nothing short of a dynamic influence. Take a look at the results of the 1st XV between 1961 and 1975 and you will begin to understand just how good the St.Brendan's boys were. It was an era to behold and some of the pupils who rewarded the BPC (Blake, Price & Colston) influence were :-
Peter Binham, Mike Rafter, Peter Ford, David Owen, Mike Healey, Nigel Pomphrey, Mark Regan and Peter Johnson.
Sadly, both Elwyn Price and John Blake have passed away.
The site brings back many memories but I have a copy of the annual magazine 1953/54 which is interesting. It is particularly interesting with a picture of the All Blacks making their customary drop in to see the old school in Berkeley Square when on tour in the UK. I remember seeing the name McCaw in that group having scanned it in a few years ago. I just wondered if he was related to Richie McCaw who in the 2015 World Cup Final. I could not find any reference to a family connection on Wikipedia – may have been a grandfather or great uncle perhaps. There again probably many Scots of that name may have ended up in NZ over the years.
I left SBC in 1953 and moved across Park Row to read chemistry (when Air Squadron activities allowed) then 18 months National Service until defence cutbacks led to redundancy.
Joined British Nylon spinners in '58 and retired in '91 – still living near Abergavenny.
Henry Collins (my best man) in Sydney AU is in the photos as is Phil Lewis who still lives in Bristol and is a Catenian.
The 1980’s saw a huge change in St Brendan’s College. The Christian brothers moved on and the school gradually began to morph into its current status as a sixth form college. Although numbers were dwindling in terms of players, it did not stop the school from remaining incredibly successful on the pitch into the middle of the decade. Once the vintage of David Pegler and Paul Jeffrey had moved on to Loughborough University following their England caps at Under 18 level, the torch passed to Bruce Craig (the owner of Bath Rugby) and other characters with first team experience, notably Andy Clilverd, Ian Cox, Paul Farrell and Richard (Frank) Clifford. This was a team that was not supposed to succeed, but enjoyed an unbeaten season in 1980-1981 and taking the notable scalps of Emanuel School London, who we had not beaten for several years, Bassaleg from Newport led by a certain Stuart Barnes, St Edwards Liverpool (away 15-14) and taking Christ College Brecon’s unbeaten home record with a 13-12 victory, courtesy of Bruce Craig’s dummy switch with Paul Farrell and dive into the corner. He really should have been the England Under 18’s scrum half that year but a broken leg a week before the final trial took his chance away. It was England’s loss.
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