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Hawick launch twin initiative to strengthen rugby's international fraternity
Hawick Rugby club have launched a new initiative for rugby clubs to "twin" with other clubs’ around the world. The intention is to link with clubs - anywhere in the world - to improve the potential of sharing players, coaches and fund-raising ideas as well as linking websites.
At the moment, when players travel to other clubs around the world, there is very little feedback on how the players have developed. Twinning clubs puts a two way communication structure in place to assist with player progress.
Hawick RFC President, Terence Froud, said: "The way the season is structured these days it is difficult to set up a traditional fixture with a club like Ballymena, who Hawick have had a strong association with for a number of years pre-professional rugby, but that’s the reality and we just need to get on with it. It is common place for towns and cities to be twinned, so why not rugby clubs? More importantly, it will help protect the ethos of the game. A lot of our players - like many others throughout the world - are keen to experience playing rugby in different countries and the twinning idea will help formalise these trips and give the players confidence that there are strong links at the twinned clubs."
Hawick have agreed to twin with four overseas clubs: Ballymena in Northern Ireland, Norths in Brisbane, Australia, Poneke in Wellington, New Zealand and Wests in Canberra, Australia. The twinning agreement is set to strengthen the relationships between the clubs and as an increasing number of clubs are twinned, the hope is that club tours and preseason events with overseas clubs will become regular fixtures.
Duncan Garvie, Chairman of Poneke RFC, Wellington, New Zealand, said: "Poneke Football Club has had a long history of welcoming overseas players into its ranks. Most of these players come to Wellington for a season to sample rugby in New Zealand and to enjoy the mild winters and relaxed lifestyle. There is a growing trend amongst our own players to travel overseas on the OE (overseas experience) and to join rugby clubs where they can meet the locals and become involved in the community they are living in. All this interaction can only help the game of rugby to strengthen and prosper. Our members are excited about joining with Hawick RFC in this twin club initiative and we would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge one of our own from Poneke who has become a stalwart of Hawick RFC, George Keown."
Former Australia wing forward and national U19 coach, Chris Roache, is currently the coaching director at Norths in Brisbane, he added: "At club level, rugby is about providing life experiences for young men who will benefit through the relationships created by rugby clubs twinning with each other around the world. It is essential that the core value of rugby, namely that of fraternity, remains at the heart of the game. This is a tremendous initiative and we support it totally."
Davy Smyth from Ballymena RFC agreed: "Club rugby must remain as the bedrock of the game and this initiative will help raise the profile of club rugby, improve player and coach development and establish strong links between the participating clubs."
Hawick Rugby Club would like to see other clubs taking up this initiative and would be delighted to hear from any clubs throughout the world who would like to be twinned with them. Anyone interested should contact
More information regarding the twinning initiative can be found on the Hawick RFC website
Do your OE and play rugby for Hawick
If you're about to do your OE and also play rugby - consider Hawick Rugby Club as your destination! Hawick Rugby Club is looking for props, second row or back row and half backs! If you are interested please email -
The Man Behind the Keown Trophy (and cup)
By: Murray Watson
Next Saturday sees pupils from Hawick primary schools competing in the finals of the Keown Trophy for the fortieth year. Earlier today you may have seen a camera crew from New Zealand Sky TV filming the semi-finals. Apart from spying on future international talent what brought a television crew more than half way round the world to film Hawick primary school kids playing rugby?
They were here because of a very special relationship between the grey auld toun and the land of the long white cloud. Forty two years ago a young, rugby-playing, Kiwi teacher wanted to take a year out travelling. The young man, George Keown, had a Scottish mother from Lesmahagow and he decided he had to go to Scotland. That year the British Lions had been in New Zealand and George, a rangy and angular lock forward, had been impressed by the play of Derek Grant and Jim Telfer. He set his sights on the Borders and soon got a job teaching at Burnfoot School.
George who had played senior rugby in New Zealand for Athletic Club and Hawick’s twin club, Poneke, soon found himself playing for Linden and Hawick, where he pulled on the green jersey half a dozen times. He debuted in the second row with Ian Barnes and this formidable combination helped defeat a very powerful Langholm side at Mansfield Park.
In his spare time George helped coach Hawick primary school youngsters alongside Bill McLaren. These were the days before the parents got involved and before the Academy. George’s friendly enthusiasm and skills were much appreciated. So much so that on his departure home he was presented with a silver cup by the staff at Burnfoot School. This was to be presented to a sport of his choice back in New Zealand. The Keown Cup, as it was known, is still presented annually to the player of the year at Patumahoe RFC.
George was overwhelmed with gratitude and went out and bought a silver cup, the Keown Trophy, to be competed for annually by Burnfoot, Denholm, Drumlanrig, St Margaret’s. Stirches, Trinity and Wilton primary schools. This was played for the first time in 1968 when George presented the trophy to the winning captain of the Drumlanrig team.
George was, and still is, impressed by the coaching set-up for Hawick youngsters. He said, "What I liked about Bill McLaren’s approach was that he encouraged participation rather than winning at all costs. The emphasis was to have fun by running and passing. His legacy has been continued by May Sinclair, Roddy Deans and now Rocky Johnstone through the Hawick Rugby Academy. Hawick has a rugby nursery that is world class."
Like father, like son, George’s offspring Barrie took a year out travelling too. He went to Canada, where he played for the Ottawa Indians, eventually finding himself in Hawick where he quickly fitted into a green jersey. Shortly after his arrival, in 1998, May Sinclair, who had taken over primary school coaching from Bill McLaren, asked Barry to present his father’s trophy. Barry worried about having to make a speech, phoned home and was promptly told that next year his father would make the presentation. Approaching the age of early retirement George and his wife Peggy decided to come to Hawick for a year and after securing supply teaching assignments decided to stay a bit longer. Barrie duly met a Hawick lass and presented his parents with a grand daughter. Meanwhile Barrie’s sister, husband and children also emigrated to the UK. George and Peggy are now permanent and occasionally-itinerant Teri Kiwis.
© ALLTEAMS Ltd 2012