On Thursday 2nd July, Farrer & Co LLP opened the doors of their stately offices in Lincoln’s Inn Fields to members of the London Rugby Business Network. 

The event saw the launch of the RBN’s ‘Rugby Cellar’ initiative.  Ex-England player Simon Halliday’s close involvement with The Sporting Wine Club is well known amongst the rugby fraternity and a partnership between Simon and his colleagues at The Sporting Wine Club and the RBN seems like an ideal fit to all involved.

We are delighted to have such a marketable product to help further the RBN’s Life After Rugby Programme and trust that our members will also appreciate the finer points.

The Life After Rugby Programme assists rugby players in preparing for their post-rugby careers.  Having already pledged 50% of the proceeds from each bottle sold to this programme, we were confident interest and imbibing on the night would be high in equal measure.

A large crowd was welcomed by Julian Pike, partner and head of Farrer & Co’s Reputation Management practice.  Julian gave visitors an insight into the history behind the building, including its links with Inigo Jones in the 1600s and the arrival of Farrer & Co in 1790.  He also gave the group a view on the areas of expertise within Farrer & Co’s practice, including their wealth management and advisory services.

Colm Hannon of the RBN introduced our surprise feature of the evening.  Simon Greenhill’s tenor voice is familiar to many rugby fans across the home nations and his Elegant Entertainment business is famed for its “singing waiters” enterprise.  Guests were delighted to hear Simon launch into a pitch perfect O Sole Mio and then segue into West Side Story.  It served as the ideal warm-up for the perfect summer’s evening of wine appreciation and rugby stories that followed.

hallersSimon Halliday took the stage to present details of the wines on offer.  Naturally, there was a rugby story behind the evening’s selections.  Schalk Burger & Sons Welbedacht Estate in Wellington Western Cape, South Africa, is any rugby tourist’s pilgrimage site at the best of times and it is from there that The Sporting Wine Club sourced some of the evening’s wares.

The wines ranged from a perfect sparkling white (“Prosecco, this is not!”), to a dangerously-quaffable 14.5% Chenin Blanc from the Welbedacht estate that was by far the most popular wine of the evening, being consumed and purchased by the case load.

The well-known Meerkat wine range was also represented and with an Ashes series in the offing there were many takers for the Welbedacht Cricket Pitch 2008 vintage.  The rugby theme was ever–present, with artistic labels designed for The Rugby Cellar’s aptly titled French Flair depicting a neatly-taken conversion.

It wasn’t all wine on the night, even if it may have felt that way the following morning.  Simon’s appointment as Chairman of European Professional Club Rugby has come at a time of significant change for the European game, with a new competition, the ERCC, replacing the Heineken Cup.

Members got a chance to hear some real insight into the workings of the new organisation at their base in Neufchatel.  Much laughter ensued when Simon played the nationality card, with the Celtic nations coming in for some good-humoured stick.

David Barnes spoke briefly as an ambassador for the Life after Rugby Programme and a participant within the Rugby Players’ Association.  He gave members an insider’s view of the support systems being developed for players transitioning from pitch to desk.

England Women Rugby Sevens’ captain Abi Chamberlain was introduced to huge applause.  Speaking openly about the challenges faced by the female players, Abi referenced her need to balance current playing commitments with an eye firmly on the future.

We wish to thank those RBN members who gave generously to the Life After Rugby Programme on the night itself and to our hosts, Farrer & Co, who allowed us to stay long into the evening.  Huge thanks to Simon Greenhill for the entertainment and to all our guests who ensured the evening of networking was perfectly accompanied by wine, rugby and song.

If you like rugby, enjoy an excellent wine and are keen to help our Life After Rugby Programme, you now know what to do.  Click here to order.

We also encourage members to spread the word about The Sporting Wine Club amongst their own business and professional networks.  Contact if your company hosts events or if you would like to see their wines in your favourite restaurant.

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