‘Ireland’s greatest rugby legislator’
The Times We Lived In – Date: January 1980. Photograph by Pat Langan
Some readers may recognise this man instantly. But if you don’t, let’s have a ponder. Who might he be? Being of a bookish bent I find myself imagining him as a storyteller. There’s something of JRR Tolkien in the tweed jacket, the book-lined study, the dark walls. Plus, he has a rather puckish expression – it’s easy to imagine him presiding over squads of warring elves, dwarves, kings and the like.
I am, of course, completely wrong. I should have looked more carefully at the photos in the photo. Anyhow, the caption on our photograph reads: “G P Sarsfield Hogan – Ireland’s greatest rugby legislator.”
And that’s all. The image was never published. But an article from The Irish Times of a few months earlier, written by Sean Pender, fills in a little more of the picture. “G P Sarsfield Hogan has for quite a number of decades been one of the top personalities in Irish rugby. An able legislator, keen historian of the game, and often consulted in regard to the drafting of club regulations or IRFU Union laws, he had a spell on the International Board, got a unique honour when twice named president of the UCD rugby club, and is now patron of the Irish Universities’ rugby team.”
The article explains that our reporter had just received a letter from Sarsfield Hogan – oh, the luxurious pace of those pre-email days – recalling his cricketing days at UCD, and an incident in a match he played against E L Kidd, an Englishman who, famously, played cricket for Ireland.
Kidd made a century, but his innings was finally brought to an end by A G Francis, a player from the Caribbean. “A fine athlete running fast, who made the catch and hurdled the boundary rail in the same movement,” Sarsfield Hogan wrote. “The umpire had then to decide whether the catch had been made in the air inside or outside the rail! It sounds like a ‘fisherman’s tale’. But it is true.”
So there you are. I rest my case. A storyteller after all.
These and other Irish Times images can be purchased from irishtimes.com/photosales. A book, The Times We Lived In, with more than 100 photographs and commentary by Arminta Wallace, published by Irish Times Books, is in bookshops now priced €19.99.