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23 May 2014
The McClure family of Wellington New Zealand have been friends of my family for 25 years. Wife Cindy and Husband Lance have two kids and they live in the suburb of Lower Hutt.
Lance has served in the New Zealand police force for all of his working life, rising to be a Senior constable. Several times he has been posted to the Solomon Islands to assist in the rebuild of that country after violent storm damage.
This year Lance sent me this touching and very sad story of rugby connection and also about the loss of one life in the recent floods.
From the Solomon Star Times: Electronic Edition 12 April 2014.
SATURDAY, 12 APRIL 2014 12:38
WHEN the Solomon Islands sent a rugby team to the Hong Kong 7s for the first time in 1983, one of the key players was Leonard Pugeva. But now 30 years later Leonard's family and the rugby community are mourning.
Leonard died in the raging torrents of the flashflood of the Matanikau river on Thursday last week and his body, and those of three of his grandchildren who drowned in the flooded river, will be taken to his home village of Tokengau in Bellona for burial today.
He took up rugby in 1971 and was 27 when he first represented Solomon Islands at Hong Kong according to historical records.
He had previously represented the country at the 1979 South Pacific Games and in 1980 at the Air Pacific Trophy competition.
Now at the age of 58 years, he is gone from among us.
This information paper comes from a member of the rugby community who was shocked to hear of his passing in such tragic circumstances.
Two of his children and a daughter-in-law and her brother survived the flood waters and were plucked from Point Cruz harbor by rescuers on boats.
Leonard's tragic story was played out in other families in Honiara last week and there are many others who lost mainly mothers and children.
He and his family had almost completed their family home on the bank of the Matanikau river near Vara creek where they operated a small canteen while he bought timber to complete the structure.
With his eldest son he was attending to the timber when the flashflood hit the canteen and then washed everyone downstream.
The house was then hit by debris and it collapsed into the river and floated downstream with two hundred pieces of 4 by 1 inch timber.
Leonard will long be remembered in the rugby community.
He went to Hong Kong twice and played for several years before retiring.
His second son Masunu became a national representative in both wrestling and rugby 7s.
His legacy to sport and to his family will live on.
He is survived by his wife Teisi, several children and several remaining grandchildren.
Teiti's people in Honiara and Wagina are also in mourning.
Fa’ako Liolea, another former rugby star, married Leonard's sister and was with the family most of the past week, and their rugby playing partner Joe Uilelea and his wife (Teiti's sister) sent condolences from Samoa where Joe is a Congregational Minister.
Others in their champion team of 1983 were John Bainivalu, Jared Beti, Tela Delaiverata, Warren Bao, Josaia Titia, Job Tuhaika and Bobby Ramo.
Most of them played at Hong Kong again in 1984.
The Australian team they faced included such names as David Campese and the Ella brothers
the 1906-07 All Black fullback), Ernest Edward 'General' Booth was born. He was nicknamed after William Booth, the founder and first General of the Salvation Army. After touring Great Britain with the 1905-06 New Zealand team E.E.Booth later became a rugby writer and was one of the first touring rugby correspondents. He travelled with the 1908-9 Australian team to Great Britain. Later still he gained notoriety (in the strictly amateur game of the time) when he was hired as a professional rugby coach by the Southland Rugby Union.
Royal Air Force, Leicester and England
85 internationals for England 1984–96
6 internationals for British Isles 1989-93
Leicester, Newcastle and England
27 internationals for England 1992-98
1 international for British Lions 1997
Two dashing brothers who were regular wingers in England’s selections in the 1980s and 90s.
Dealing first with Rory, who was the elder by nearly six years. He was a dashing wing, as befitted his occupation as a flight lieutenant in the Royal Air Force. At the end of his career he had played 85 internationals for England, a record total till beaten by Jason Leonard. His total of test tries scored was also an England record, with 49 scored (plus one in a Lions test) boosting his final total to 50. This placed him second on the all-time test try-scoring record, behind David Campese’s 64 tries. Ironically his final tally of test tries came during a time when England was in a period of playing mostly ten-man rugby. Rory Underwood gained a reputation for being underused on occasions but having a rare talent for scoring tries when the ball did come his way.
Rory was born in Middlesbrough and Tony in Ipoh, Malaysia, the brothers were of part-Chinese origins, a rugby rarity in itself, and they spent some of their childhood in Malaysia. Rory’s first cap was against Ireland in 1984. Most of his caps were won on the left wing, but he could play more than competently on the right side (his English record-equaling total of five tries against Fiji at Twickenham in 1989 came when he was playing on the right wing side).
Rory’s Air Force commitments meant he missed several England tours, which meant his test match tally could have been even higher. This popular and dynamic England star was a member of the England team which contested the three Rugby World Cups, in 1987, 1991 and 1995; he played in three Grand Slam-winning England seasons, plus four Five Nations titles. He played in the 1991 World Cup final at Twickenham after scoring four tries in the lead-up games. He also toured with the British Isles to Australia in 1989 and to New Zealand in 1993.
Tony Underwood first came to the fore in 1989 when he appeared for Barbarians Club against the touring All Blacks at Twickenham. He made the England team for a tour to Argentina the following year but did not play an actual test until late in 1992. As his brother Rory was on the other wing (v Canada at Wembley) they became the first pair of brothers to play in an England team since Arthur and Harold Wheatley in 1938.
The forte of Tony’s game was blistering acceleration and a huge confidence to use it well. He toured New Zealand, with his brother in the 1993 British Lions and the two also shared England’s Grand Slam win in 1995. Tony had a second Lions tour, to South Africa in 1997.
At the 1995 World Cup in South Africa Tony had the extremely unenviable task of marking a rampant Jonah Lomu of New Zealand in one of the semi-finals games. Sadly, for England’s hopes at that tournament, and the memory of Tony Underwood as an international player, the video of him being repeatedly trampled underfoot or run around by the giant-sized Lomu, as he went on to score four tries, has been played over and over again. Tony deserved better than this. At his best he was a top player capable of many good things on the field, and like his brother, one of the best wingers England has ever produced.
What did the famous Welsh and British Lions hooker Bobby Windsor achieve on his 42nd birthday?