JASON LEONARD TRUANTS RUGBY LEGENDS DINNER
Jason Leonard was known as The Fun Bus back in the days when he used to rumble around the turf in first gear, saving his energy for smashing up all-comers in the name of Queen and country. So all the Truants and guests in attendance on January 28 were looking forward to a ribald night full of informed opinion, great tales and much humour when our most capped rugby international joined in the Sanctum Cinema Room for the second of our Truants Rugby Legends Dinners. And what a night it was , with tickets (£225, £175), a raffle and the auction of four special items generously donated by Jason, making a profit for our Charities of over £8000.
I’m pleased to report that Jase certainly didn’t disappoint. Following hot on the heels of our inaugural legend Martin Johnson, The Fun Bus was definitely as big a hit as his erstwhile skipper.
Despite the considerable disadvantage of being sandwiched between The Shepherd , his Trooper and Tom Baigrie’s ridiculous green braces for dinner, the former Harlequins prop proved to be every bit as genial as you would expect from a man who proudly puts his name to a DVD of rugby’s greatest punch-ups!
Once the fine fodder from Mr. Fuller’s loveable kitchen staff had been wolfed down, Jason proceeded to entertain the collected audience of thirty nine very merry Truants and guests, first with tales from his illustrious career and then with some interesting predictions for the boys in white in what is a big, big year for Stuart Lancaster’s squad.
The floor eventually opened up for Truants to have their say. Adam Tyrer immediately tried to fox everyone with eight different questions masquerading as one rambling monologue that was about as bloody long as ‘The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner’ (one for the Maiden hardcore there). But despite all that Jason still smiled graciously and charmed one and all from the front of the room, even letting us into the secret of what he said to that ref in 2003 when he came on shortly after half time in the World Cup Final !!.
The auction – handled magnificently by Baigrie in an atmosphere that could only be described as a cross between raucous and confused – raised a £2260 for very special dedicated and signed items from Jason – a ball, shirt, poster plus, the apex of the offerings, a game-worn pair of Leonard shorts, England v Wales 2003 world cup quarters, eagerly snapped up by Charles Bradbooke for £1200. Other generous auction winners were Rowen, Big Frank and Kevin. Everyone seemed extremely pleased with an evening well spent, especially those who went upstairs with Jason for extra Trooper or three and nonsense till the naughty hours.
All Truants and guests were thrilled with Rod’s organization, Mark Fuller’s hospitality and the general arms-round-the-shoulders man love of it all. Can it really be legal to have this much fun while doing something good?!
So there we have it. Once again much monies and many glasses were raised while we all basked in the reflected glory of one of English rugby’s true giants. We’ll just have to do it all again won’t we? Now who on earth mentioned June 17?
– Truants Chief Scribe and Interrogator, Howard “Hojo” Johnson