Keep those eyes peeled for the lad we called Jack
NEWS this week that the rugby loving HSH Princess Charlene of Monaco – born in Zimbabwe, educated in South Africa – will be hosting this year’s increasingly glitzy World Rugby awards in Monaco in November with her husband Prince Albert brings to mind an impromptu pub crawl in Cardiff 1994 before and after Wales’ 24-15 win over France.
The company was excellent – Tim Glover of the Cambridge Blue and globetrotting businessman Mark Thomas – one of Clem’s sons – and his mate, a fairly scruffy but humorous individual wearing a commando style woollen hat and a magnificent Jack Hawkins duffle coat more suited to Arctic convoys.
We beat a traditional trail – O’Neil’s, Queens Vaults, the City Arms and the Angel – and ale was drunk in considerable quantities. At one stage Jack – for that is what myself and Glover christened him whether our new drinking buddy ‘got’ the joke or not – banged on at some length about the joys of bobsleighing and rowers being the greatest of all athletes while also toasting a great try by Scott Quinnell.
When it was time to dash for trains and Jack had disappeared to the Gents, Mark whispered: “Don’t you want to know who Jack is?” We had our suspicions but didn’t want to spoil the moment so shook our heads: “It’s Prince Albert of Monaco. He likes to come over for the France match and just be a member of the crowd. Don’t breathe a word, he wants to keep the tradition up.”
We didn’t – breathe a word that is – and for all I know ‘Jack’ still makes the trip incognito every two years. Keep your eyes skimmed this February for French fans looking like extras from The Cruel Sea.