Interview with a former player - Derek Reddin-Clancy

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Interview with a former player - Derek Reddin-Clancy

by PaulHP on Sat Sep 30, 2017 2:41 pm

Derek Reddin-Clancy, started playing rugby at 8, by the age of 17 he had made it into the London Irish First XV when he took to the pitch against fellow Exiles London Scottish. He very kindly answered my questions:

Where were you born? Dublin

When/where did you start to play rugby? Prep School Wellbury Park, Near Hitchin Herts

What was your position? Centre and Wing

When did join London Irish and how many games did you play? Joined London Irish Schoolboys 1965

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London Irish Schoolboys. Second from left middle row

When did you make your London Irish debut and what do you remember about your debut? September 1967 v London Scottish- Marking Sandy Hinslewood

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On his debut against London Scottish

What other clubs did you play for? Saracens Schoolboys when I was 14, Under 23 ‘s when I was 15. Berkshire Under 15. Douai School 1st XV made 1st at 14 ½, played for 3 seasons in 1st. Old Dowegians XV. Public School Wanderers. Territorial Army for 3 Years- I was longest serving member but never joined the TA!

How different was the set up at Saracens compared to London Irish? We were coached by a wonderful lady Mrs Pardoe

What brought you to London Irish? My Rugby coach at Douai said I was too young for senior rugby and made me promise not to play for Saracens till I was older so keeping his promise I signed up for London Irish thanks to introduction by Kevin Murphy O’Connor who was also an Old Dowegian

Who was the coach? Usually the Captain

How was the team picked? Seemed to be at random as selection policy was turn up to squad sessions and you would be up for selections but alas priority was given to players who mostly guested.

How did you find out that you had been picked? Phone call

Who were the Captain(s)? Billy Doyle, Mick Malloy, Ollie Waldron and Ken Kennedy

Where did you train? Duke of York Barracks Tuesday and Sunbury on Thursday

Who was your most difficult opponent? Steve Fenwick of Bridgend

What was Sunbury like in your time playing there? We all enjoyed Fitz’s Bar but when the new stand was built it lost a lot of its charm.

Who do you consider was the best player you played with for London Irish? Ken Kennedy

Who were the characters at London Irish in your time playing? Charlie Burton the Irish Times Reporter and Public School Wanderers Selector who started Public School Wanders. On Saturday after the match he would approach and ask you to play on basis there would be 14 internationals and yourself for the following Wednesday and when you arrived at the ground you were lucky to have 14 players.
Tommy Joy- a wonderful Prop and a hard man.
Tony O’Reilly who occasionally appeared for training at Sunbury in the chauffeur driven Mercedes

Do you still keep in contact with any of your old team-mates? Only Ken Kennedy on basis of sports injuries

The professional London Irish team is no longer a team for Irish/ Irish descent players, what are your feelings about this? A bit sad as it brought the north and south of Ireland together during difficult times. There was never a cross word between the players. I remember Johnny Coker the first top class black wing who was playing for Quins asking me why we sang rebel songs given the north south divide. My Reply was because we didn’t know any others.
It is a pity that the Irish blood is not a requirement as it takes the glamour out of the name

Do you miss playing for London Irish? As I approach 69 no, however if given my time over again I probably at 5-8 ½ would not even be tall enough to be a mascot!
Given my time over again and the fact that XV a side has become so physical I would concentrate on 7 a side. We never got paid for playing and physio was very limited

Do you have a favourite story from your playing days? Johnny Coker asked me if he could join London Irish and my reply was which parents were Irish? He did say his fiancé at the time was Irish. There is another story attributed to his which I cannot verify but when he was at TCD in Dublin he was approached by the Irish Selectors about whether he had any Irish blood in him he replied that his grandfather ate 3 Irish missionaries


On average how many games of rugby did you play a week (I found an article saying that you played for the Territorial Army & AVR)? Sometimes 3 times a week LIRUFC on Saturday, Old Dowegians –Sunday and Public School Wanderers, Territorial Army or Brixton School of Building on Wenesdays

When did you stop playing? 1979

Who was your biggest influence on your rugby-playing career? My Prep School Headmaster who introduced me to rugby at the age of 8

Do you still watch rugby? Yes

Are you still involved in rugby? No

When was the last time you attended a London Irish match? Against Wasps in High Wycombe when I lived there.

Sunbury or Reading, which do you prefer? The old Sunbury

London Irish are due to move back inside the M25 and play at Brentford, what are your thoughts on this? A good Idea Reading is soulless – and after all it is LONDON IRISH

Has your old position changed since you played? Yes centres are on average 6 ft or more and 2 stone heavier

Which modern day player would you have liked to play with? Brian O’Driscoll

Do you prefer the rugby of today or when you played? When I played- It was fun then and we all went back to our jobs on Monday Morning

Are there any rules you would like to see changed? Tackling above the waist should be banned it is the cause of too many injuries
The penalty should be reduced to 1 point

Any other sporting achievements? Richmond Town 1st XI Cricket

What is your occupation? Chartered Surveyor and Arbitrator

Can you give a brief resume of your career? Bsc Degree in Estate Management
Chartered Surveyor since 1972. Arbitrator on RICS Panel since 1990.
Started Career at John D Wood in 1970
Started Reddin-Clancy and Company 1980


This week there has been a lot in the press about children being banned from playing contact rugby in schools. As someone who started playing rugby at school aged 8, what are your thoughts about this? As to the topic of kids and playing rugby at a young age it is true that I did play at the age of eight but we did have one tragedy at a prep school after I left and that was a young boy playing hooker too soon after lunch at regurgitated food and suffocated.
To be honest I think that if children start to imitate their elders then again it can only get rougher and potentially more dangerous. I can remember at Douai when playing Beaumont in the first 15 the sound of the stand-off leg breaking which was like a shot from a gun.
In my own case when playing for the TA versus the army at Sandhurst I can remember turning round at half time when playing centre and the next thing I remember was undoing my boots at the end of the match.
To summarise I think rugby is a contact game that carries risks but the current rules to give rise to more dangerous than when I was younger. I think also we need to understand that younger children have bones which are not yet fully formed and are therefore not able to carry out the protection that the skeleton gives to the adults.
I really do believe that boys rugby should actually be based upon how the girls play which is a more open type of rugby where speed and agility. I am a great believer in seven-a-sides as it encourages players and use the skills of handling and sidestepping and actually avoiding being tackled.
As I said before I do believe that it could be made easier for younger people to play a full contact sport if they made tackling above the waist illegal.
I think it should be mandatory for all players under the age of 12 to wear scrum and gum shields. Many children, think that it is not cool to take these precautions and I think that well known senior players who wear scrum caps should be encouraged to visit schools to persuade younger members the importance of taking such precautions.

I found a newspaper article about how you caught an escaped prisoner (for which you received a Judges commendation), what are your recollections of the incident? Attached is Citation from the Ross McWhirter Foundation. The Prisoner was on trial for rape and kidnapping at the Old Bailey and was being transported back to Wormwood Scrubs in a prison van when he jumped out of the van and I gave chase and floored him in the Bayswater Road.
At the award ceremony for the recipients of the award I offered to give the thanks on behalf of the recipients before Mr Utley a strong critic of the IRA and a prominent Correspondent on the Telegraph got up to launch a strong attack on the Irish.
My response “I am probably the only one qualified to reply to this speech being born in Dublin, an Irish Catholic married to a North of Ireland Protestant but I am also a professional negotiator.”

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Re: Interview with a former player - Derek Reddin-Clancy

by dom_pedro on Mon Oct 02, 2017 8:24 am

Good interview Paul, thanks. Not sure I'd agree with Derek on either the 1 point penalty (certain teams would give them away all day long if that was the case) or that Reading is soulless (just a bit big when we can't fill it) but an interesting read.
This cruel country has driven me down, teased me and lied.
I've only sad stories to tell to this town
My dreams have withered and died.
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Re: Interview with a former player - Derek Reddin-Clancy

by gabriel on Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:53 am

Interesting interview. I remember the Ross McWhirter murder by the Provisionals and the extreme measures McWhirter had advocated with regard to the Irish in England. His ultra-right views did not in any way justify his appalling assassination.
It must have been interesting times in the bar at London Irish all the way through the Civil Rights movement, Bloody Sunday, internment, London, Birmingham and Manchester bombings etc.. It is a tribute to the club members that they seem not to have been allowed to affect the club at all.
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