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The Prince Obolensky Association

Prince Obolensky Award

2013: Peter Smith

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We've taken a slight departure in 2013 with our award in that we've gone for a local hero rather than an international superstar. Jason, our previous award winner, was the first to suggest it and when he did it was blindingly obvious to the Obolensky Committee that Peter was the right choice.

Peter founded the Obolensky Association with others many years ago but has been the driving force right from the start and in the process raising well over £100,000 for Rosslyn Park and good causes.

Having had his playing career cut short by injury at an early stage Peter turned his efforts first to referreeing then to organising the club to ensure others got enjoyment from playing on Saturdays. He organised Rosslyn Park's development side, became Chair of the RP Floodlit 7s Committee to form it into the successful event it is today and even at one side found himself bringing over a Western Samoan 7s side to the Middlesex 7s which they won and demonstrated for the first time in England, the Pacific Islander's skill at the 7s game. Needless to say, he also arranged a kit collection for young players in Samoa and persuaded a shipping line to take it out there for free.

Even though in recent years, Peter has suffered from ill health, his energy and drive has continued unabated and it is principally his efforts alone that have made the Obolensky Association what it is today.

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2012: Jason Leonard MBE

We were very pleased that Jason Leonard agreed to be the second recipient of the Obolenksy Award following on from the inaugural award to Andy Ripley.

Lawrence Dellaglio and Keith Wood’s answer, when asked at Rip’s memorial lunch, of who might best be the modern day Andy was that despite the fact that he’s not quite modern anymore and is a somewhat different shape, they both simultaneously said “Jason Leonard”.

The key reason for that is that Jason embodied as a player, the same freedom of spirit and genial contempt for a tour manager’s silly rules as did Andy, and, we suspect, the Prince.

His rugby glory is of course of a different scale to theirs. It is doubtful, in this day and age of frantic running about and consequent routine chronic injuries that any forward will ever overtake his 114 England and 5 lions caps, his 4 grand slams and 4 world cup campaigns, and certainly no-one will ever again win his country a World Cup by telling a panicking South African ref, “It’s going to be OK Andre, I’m here now, the scrums will be just fine.” The penalties ceased and England were allowed at the last to play their game and win.

Jason’s international try scoring exploits (the plural used wisely) are of course a key part of his fame. He scored his first to win the game on his debut as England Captain and his other one when playing his very last match for the Barbarians’ … against England. So that’s Played 114…scored 2…1 for…1 against…. truly the stuff of legend!
 
Like our other two heroes, The Fun Bus, as Martin Bayfield christened him, stood out from his peers as a man who refused to let professionalism and management take the freedom from his spirit, and who, even more perhaps than our other two, was good enough to get away with it.

Today he’s a bit more like the rest of us really, but he fronts up wonderfully generously for the fine causes of Wooden Spoon and Sparks and is a truly rounded man and living legend, and a very rare one of those.

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Inaugural award, 2011: Andy Ripley OBE

The Association made the decision in 2010 to inaugurate an annual award to be presented to an individual connected to Rugby Union who the Association felt:

  • has had a significant impact on the sport
  • has also made an impact in some other way, for example by their involvement in the community or by excelling in another sport
  • has contributed to the benefit of others by using their profile in support of charity
  • is a role model both on and off the pitch
  • and has shown something of being a Corinthian spirit.
    • We could think of no worthier recipient for the initial award than Andy Ripley, a Rosslyn Park and rugby union legend. Sadly Andy lost his battle against Prostate Cancer in 2010 however we were delighted to welcome Andy's 3 children to Rosslyn Park to accept the award on behalf of the family at our annual dinner.

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The Statue

The Association commissioned local artist Gilbert Whyman to sculpt the statue and the statue was designed to show the Prince in full flight with his trademark hand-off and ball tucked under the arm. The statue is forged in Bronze at a local foundry in Putney alongside the Olivier awards!

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