The club hosted its monthly get together on 10 May at the venue, where Bladen entertained the guests with stories of his over 40 years as a commentator for the popular sport at provincial, national and international levels.
“Probus is a combination of ‘professional’ and ‘business’,” explained Cliff Laidlaw, who has been a member of the club for about six years now. “We’re all retired or semi-retired businessmen and meet up on the second last Thursday of every month for lunch to enjoy a meal and find out how our friends are doing.”
After a few general club announcements were read out by the chairman of the club Don Britten, Hugh Bladen was introduced and given the floor.
“I started my commentating career in 1976,” he told the about 20 members who were present. “And it was completely by accident. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.”
After playing provincial rugby for a few years, Bladen heard about a position open on the English-speaking radio as a commentator for the sport and decided to give it a try. He was hired as a commentator for both radio and television and in the following years, he has commentated 160 Springbok test matches, 27 Curry Cup finals and every Rugby World Cup from the 1990s onwards, barring the one hosted in 1995.
“People often ask me which games have been the most memorable, and I have to say that there is no question that getting to comment on my own country winning the Rugby World Cup has been an enormous privilege,” he said, referring to South Africa‘s defeat of England during the final of 2007.
Bladen told a number of jokes during his 30-minute-long speech, discussed what it’s like behind the scenes during a game’s filming and even received a standing ovation at the end of it from some club members. As he finished up, he discussed the current state of South African rugby.
“We are losing players at an alarming rate and there is a huge talent drain from South Africa. Something like 500 players go overseas to play for other clubs every year,” he concluded.
To find out more about the Probus Club of the North, or to become a member, contact Rodney Frances 083 227 8473.
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