|OD Rugby Club|
Stuart Abbott (School House, 1991 – 1995 – PM – 1996) paid The Mitre a visit today (4th May 2021) and he and his U13A rugby coach from 1991, Dr Paul Murray, currently the school Archivist, had coffee together and reminisced about the time Stuart started off his College career.
In the photograph, Stuart is standing in front of School House where he was a border. He recalls being the last of the students who received a caning in 1994. He was in Grade 11 (St 9) and one evening was away without leave. Upon return he and his colleagues were duly summoned to appear before the House Director whose task it was to mete out the relevant punishment, at the time, a caning.
The field behind them in the photograph, the Avenue, is where Stuart first started off his rugby career.
Stuart Abbott was a member of the unbeaten U13A rugby side called The Colts. They enjoyed their running rugby. It was the year U13 was stopped in the Prep and the players all came to Bishops so instead of putting them in the U14 side they went into the U13 side.
Paul and Stuart remembered the time as if it were yesterday. Paul reminded Stuart of how during the running sessions for fitness, Stuart would spend endless time ‘tying his shoelaces’. Now 30 years later, he confesses, ‘I was not too keen on all the running’.
They were reminded of the time at the start of the 1991 season when the U14A coach asked why such a talented flanker well-known at Wetpups as their leading rugby light, especially for cleaning up around the edges of the scrums (scraps, a bit, Abbott), should be assigned to the position of second centre?
To which Paul Murray answered, he was not really aware of the history behind Stuart’s positional play, and had certainly not chosen anyone for that position, Abbott went there out of his own accord and played in the position as Outside Second Centre. The reason for this was that Abbott’s close friend from Wetpups Mark Pfuhl and he had decided on this combination for themselves, for which they acquitted themselves incredibly well if the unbeaten season is anything to go by.
From the little ‘Scraps’ he was known as, as a loose-forward in his prep school days, to a formidable three-quarterback at College, he eventually played in the World Cup for England, the winning side for the 2003 Rugby World Cup Tournament for which he was awarded an MBE in the 2004 New Years’ Honours.
A testimony to one of Bishops’ great sports persons, Stuart will be donating his England jersey, with the signatures of the English National Team, to the Museum. We will run an article for it, then.
It was great to see you at Bishops, Stuart, and we look forward to seeing more of you with sons Ethan and Callum.
Watch an interview with Stuart from Supersport Schools below
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