In Memoriam: Peter Clarke, Founding President

Peter Clark:  October 5, 1929 – April 26, 2013

It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our founding President Peter Cockett Clarke. Peter will be greatly missed by his wife, Heather; son, Owen (Yvonne); daughter, Catherine (Jim); grandchildren, Lachlan, Finley, Skyler and Makenna and stepsons, Rob and Jay Dyke. Peter was born in Gateshead-on-Tyne, County Durham, England. 
 
Born in County Durham on October 5th 1929, Peter Clarke began his Rugby career in England. He attended the King Edward VI Grammar School in Morpeth from 1940 – 1948, and joined the Newcastle Northern Rugby Club in 1946. As a Rugby Sevens player he appeared in the Hawick and Selkirk Scottish tournaments as well as in games against other Scottish and N.E. Clubs.
 
After military service, Peter earned a B.A. at Sheffield, playing Rugby for the University as a Number 8. He was captain for his last two years, and selected by the U.A.U. representative team to play against Llanelli, Swansea and Gloucester. Then, in 1953, he was part of the U.A.U. team, which travelled to Parma to play against Italy and the Combined Italian Universities in Cagliari, Sardinia.
 
Peter continued his rugby career at Carnegie Physical Education College where he captained the team to an unbeaten season. At the County level, he was selected for Northumberland to play versus Westmoreland and Cumberland.  In addition, Peter played for Sheffield RFC for two seasons, the last as captain, when he led the side to the finals of the Yorkshire 7’s.
 
Peter immigrated to Canada in 1955, starting his teaching career at Burns Lake, B.C., then moving to the Saanich School District. Here he founded a rugby team at Mount Newton Junior School to begin a growth in the Game throughout the Upper Island schools. Meanwhile in his own career, Peter joined Dick Ellis (a future President of Rugby Canada), at the Oak Bay Wanderers. In 1960, Peter captained the Wanderers to the Club’s first win of the Rounsefell Cup trophy, the B.C.R.U Championship.
 
At the representative level, Peter was chosen in 1964 for the Victoria Crimson Tide team, which, for the first time since the 1930s, won the McKechnie Cup, the B.C. R.U. sub union championship. Peter’s first selection at the provincial level was in 1958, against Australia when the Canadians won 11-8 at Empire Stadium. Subsequently, he toured Eastern Canada and Japan with the B.C. Provincial team.  Peter’s final outing for B.C .was as captain, leading them to victory against Yawata Steel in Vancouver.
 
In 1961 Peter’s teaching career saw his appointment as deputy headmaster at the reactivated Brentwood College School. He coached the school rugby team and had the vision to foresee the establishment of a Senior Rugby Club in the Valley. Aided by many others, Peter founded this first new Club since 1939 to be established outside of Victoria. The Cowichan Rugby Club took the field in September 1962. Peter, who was the Club’s first President, had the opportunity to play as captain Bill Murray was unable to play due to injury.
 
First as President, Peter has held a variety of Club executive positions and coached at every level.  When he rejoined the Public School education system as Principle of Quamichan Junior Secondary, he organized six new age grade rugby teams – drawing in many young men who remain with the Club to this day. 
Returning to his interest in the Sevens game, Peter organized and ran the 1976 Cowichan Rugby 7’s Tournament, a competition that ran for 18 years. Later, in 1995, he founded the BC Schools’ Sevens Tournament.
 
In administrative roles, Peter acted as Secretary of the Victoria R.U. 1958-59, then served as President and Selector from 1960-61. Peter was B.C.R.U. President from 1972-4, followed by President of the Canadian Rugby Union from 1974-76.
 
Peter was appointed Honorary Manager of the British Columbia team from 1966-68, and then In 1978 he was appointed Hon Manager of the C.R.U. National Teams who played against New Zealand, the USA and Wales in Canada, followed by a 1979 tour to England, Wales and France. In 1981, Peter was appointed Honorary Manager to tour Argentina. In these varied roles, Pater represented Canada at overseas meetings and functions, and in particular at the Irish R.F.U’s Centennial and the Barbarian R.F.C’s 100th anniversary celebrations. Back in Canada, he hosted many overseas Rugby guests.
 
Other highlights of his career include a pivotal role in the Labatt Classic Rugby Sub-Union Tournament, a development initiative which was held over a six year period. At the national level, Peter helped establish hiring processes for the first professional C.R.U. Secretary.
 
Peter has been recognize many times for his dedication to the game of rugby:
·       2005:  Inducted into the B.C.R.U. Hall of Fame as a “Player and Builder”
·       1997:  Her Majesty the Queen’s 25th Anniversary Medal for Services to Rugby.
·       1996:  V.I.R.U. recognition in appreciation “for Decades of Service and Vision.”
·       1991: BCRU recognition “In Appreciation of Distinguished Service to B.C. and Canadian Rugby.”
·       1980:  The Jack Patterson Memorial Trophy for contributions to the B.C.R.U.
 
A celebration of Peter’s life is to be held in the Gil Bunch Auditorium at Brentwood College on June 1, 2013 @ 2:00 pm

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