Keep those eyes peeled for the lad we called Jack

The Rugby Paper - - Guinness Pro14 -

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.

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