Is Trev the Rev English Rugby’s oldest newly registered player?

Trevor Jacquet signed registration forms for Charlton Park RFC on January 31st 2016. No big news there, except that it happened to be just three days before his 60th birthday. And he wasn’t signing to play social rugby; he made his first team debut against Brighton in London One League South (Level 6) on the 13th February. Is he the oldest player to register to play for a club at this level?

How did it happen? Charlton Park this season have been undergoing a fairly difficult injury problem in the front row – to put it mildly – and particularly at tight head prop since last year’s club captain Terry Read left, encouraged by the club, for Blackheath. Seven tight head props have suffered injury and at the end of January the decision was taken by Doug Hursey, Park’s Director of Rugby, that to avoid playing (and possibly hurting) younger players the club should nurse them away from the tough physical threat of heavily competitive level 6 rugby.

Trevor Jacquet had been helping to shove opponents around in the second and third teams, and he still played in the City League with high-standard players, so he knew what he was doing. His philosophy is, he told me, that “once you’ve got yourself into the right position, the rest is in the head”. Sounds easy? To most of his clubmates, not to mention opponents and all those who know him, Trevor is a charismatic enigma, although his four sporting sons, two of whom are ‘3peat’ British American Football champions, would prefer to say ‘stubborn’.

So who is this powerful colossus? This bully of young players. That’s another interesting part of the story. Trevor’s day-job is as the Church of England Chaplain at Belmarsh Prison. He wears his religious ‘convictions’ lightly, but they are always visible. And he coaches Blackheath Ladies team in his spare time, as well as finding time to be a Primary School Chair of Governors and President of the Chaplains’ Union.

Trevor remembers watching his father playing for Sutton and Epsom drinking side in the fifties. “It will be good to play these old rivals from my younger days at Old Walcountians in 3 weeks time” (Park have a league fixture at Sutton & Epsom coming up on April 2nd, when Trev hopes to see some of his old friends). He first played first team rugby in the 70s, and has come up against Tim Rodber, Rory Underwood and John Gallagher, as well as Martin Offiah and Andy Ripley on the sevens circuit. One of his former opponents from schooldays is Tim Bryan, ex Oxford University and Harlequins centre, who is now the Prison Chaplain at HMP Wandsworth.

Nowadays Trevor admits he still loves playing, particularly with his sons at Charlton Park, “but recovery takes a little longer – I am just about over one season when the next comes round”. In fact he has sometimes played five times in 15 days if required to turn out for the Prison XV as well as club and City League. His careful healthy eating regime includes an “addiction to chocolate and biscuits”.

Now Park’s oppositions know about him, and you can’t miss him with his white hair and pony-tail, he is feted in true rugby tradition wherever Charlton Park play, and particularly once it becomes clear that he is not to be patronised. The scrum is steady, for the first time this season, allowing the team to discover the luxuries of playing on the front foot. And his quiet and positive attitude makes him a leader. Trevor is amazed by the attention he is getting. In these times of ‘professional’ amateur rugby he is recognised by us and many others as a welcome return to the old days when loyalty to one’s club and rugby values are held up as ideals worth having. He stresses the importance of reliability, emphasising to the ‘youngsters’ that you don’t cry off except for real emergencies.

Trevor is a personification of Charlton Park and the RFU’s Core Values – teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship. Perhaps his is a story worth telling.