Last Saturday, we had the pleasure of welcoming 11 members of the Golden Oldies Tour from 1981 to the club for a reunion lunch. We asked organiser Bryan O’Neill to give us a little background on the tour which you can read below!

World Golden Oldies Festival

California June 1981

Lansdowne entered a team in the 2nd World Golden Oldies Rugby Festival which took place at the California State University in Long Beach California. We assumed that it was a reasonably serious event and we picked a team and trained accordingly.

The team had 4 Internationals, Barry Bresihan, Mick Molloy, Pat Casey and Alan Duggan – 5 Interprovincials,  John Craig, Donie Goggin, Henry Blake, Noel Hoffman, Larry Cheevers

We arrived in Los Angeles and checked into the Queen Mary and were allocated cabins. Two days later, we took part in the opening parade with the rest of the teams from countries such as, New Zealand, Australia, United States of America, Canada, Bahamas, England, Holland, South Africa, Cayman Islands.

We played our first match against a team from Auckland and soon found out that we were not taking part in a world championship but a festival of rugby of players from clubs all over the world who had played competitive rugby together for many years and now wanted to travel some with partners every two years to a different city for a holiday and participate in the game they all love. The majority of teams came from Australia and New Zealand which are the homes of overage rugby. Rugby days 2 and 3 were similar to day 1 —- a lot of fun friendship and fraternity

The Harlequins from South Africa had the same thought that this was competitive and challenged us to a game to see who was the best team. Our captain John Craig declined the offer and when asked why said that  “we only had insurance for three matches”.

The last night consisted of an open air dinner where we were entertained by Cliff Morgan. Peter Sutherland got a phone call from Garett Fitzgerald asking him to become Attorney General  which he accepted so he returned home early.

After Long Beach, we travelled to Las Vegas where we were privileged to see Frank Sinatra at the height of his power. Next stop was San Francisco where we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and dined at Clint Eastwood’s restaurant in Carmel.

During the tour Bryan and John O’ Neill met the festival organisers to express an interest that Lansdowne would host the festival at a future date. The club was chosen to host the festival in 1993. A committee was formed which included members of Seapoint and Blackrock golden oldies

Highlights of Dublin 1993

  • 110 teams from 27 countries played on 26 pitches created in UCD Belfield
  • 3,500 players of which 1,900 were Aussies
  • 5,000 sat down at the final dinner in the RDS
  • Up to that date the biggest participative sporting event to take place in Ireland
  • €10 million contributed to the Irish economy

B O’ Neill