A random email to Blackheath Chairman, Rory O’Sullivan resulted in a unique meeting of All Black legend and former Blackheath player, John Gallagher, with a senior representative of New Zealand Rugby at Well Hall last week. Local resident – and hopefully soon to be new Club member – Rob Sewell contacted Rory to ask if he could host a business connection from New Zealand Rugby who happened to be in London to finalise the new shirt sponsorship deal for the All Blacks.
Yarnie Guthrie, Global Head of Partnerships for New Zealand Rugby, had expressed a keen interest to visit Blackheath, the home of the oldest open rugby club in the world. Although not previously connected with the Club, Rob Sewell, who lives only 10 minutes away and is CEO of SmartFrame Technologies Ltd, contacted the Club Chairman and asked if it would be possible to organise a visit to Well Hall for Yarnie. The Club machinery whipped into action and Rory and Managing Director, Russell Ticehurst arranged the visit last week for both Yarnie and Rob. As a special extra gesture, they invited former All Black and member of the 1987 World Cup winning team, John Gallagher, to join them and assisted by the Club archivist, they unveiled a treasure trove of historical artefacts and memorabilia from the Club archives.
Yarnie was overwhelmed by the opportunity to visit Blackheath and to meet the team and a couple of lively hours were spent talking rugby history and exchanging great memories. Yarnie was particularly taken with the pictures of the visits of the 1905 All Blacks and the 1926 Maoris to Blackheath at The Rectory Field and he was delighted to receive a copy of the 1905 programme. In true rugby style gifts were exchanged and Yarnie very kindly gave the Club an All Blacks shirt signed by the current squad. The shirt will be framed and hung in a suitable location at Well Hall. In return, Yarnie was given a Club shield and a Blackheath hoodie. We hope the shield will be placed on the wall of the New Zealand Rugby headquarters, demonstrating once again the power and reach of the unique brand of Blackheath Rugby across the world.
Blackheath meets New Zealand Rugby at Well Hall last week.