Following the AGM last night, Paul Burnell, the most capped international London Scot, has been elected as the new President of the club.
Outgoing President Rod Lynch said he could not think of a more fitting candidate than the club's' most capped player and that he had long hoped Burnell would be persuaded to succeed him.
Accepting the appointment, Burnell said this was a proud moment and a great honour for someone who first came to the club over 30 years ago. Besides his rugby career he credited the club with helping him make lifelong friendships and he wanted to help ensure the present generation of players at all levels of the club had the same experience he had.
Burnell won 52 Scotland caps for Scotland as an Exile, gaining the first at Twickenham in the February 1989 12-12 draw, a short walk from his home club London Scottish.
When he retired from Scotland duty in 1999, he was not only one of Scotland’s most-capped forwards, he was, and remains, London Scottish’s most capped player.
Born in Edinburgh in 1965, he moved to England as a child and has lived outside Scotland ever since. He started playing rugby at school in Reading and at nearby Marlow RFC. Former London Scottish and Scotland Captain and SRU president Ian Laughland spotted him playing as a student in Leicester and lured him to London Scottish.
Almost ever-present in the Scotland side for the next eight seasons, he played 12 times in three Rugby World Cups (scoring his only try against Ivory Coast in 1995 in South Africa), all four matches for the 1990 Grand Slam winning team, and gained his one British and Irish Lions cap in Christchurch in 1993.
After the 1995 World Cup, as the game turned professional, he won what seemed to be his final cap later that year against Samoa, but almost three years later and well into his 30s, he was once more selected in 1998 and in the next two seasons went on to win another 11 caps and the last Five Nations Championship in 1999.
After his third Rugby World Cup and his final test match against New Zealand at Murrayfield, Burnell then did retire from international rugby and left for a two-year spell at Montferrand (now Clermont Auvergne).
He is an inductee of the London Scottish Hall of Fame, and as an amateur player for most of his career, Burnell has held senior leadership roles in industry with AssetCo, Michelin, Biffa and latterly FCC Environment before moving into executive search five years ago. He recently became a partner at Redgrave Partners in London.
Elsewhere at the AGM, over 100 members attended which was double the usual turnout, and for most it was first chance to meet CEO Carson Russell as well as Director of Rugby Dave Morris.
Fans could hear their vision of the kind of rugby we'll be playing, and the meeting welcomed plans to reintegrate 1st XV Professional rugby with the club and with junior and amateur rugby through a high performance pathway, and it was the first opportunity for members to hear new Chairman Malcolm Offord who set out his One Club vision which was warmly received.
Rod Lynch retired as President after 16 years and was presented by Malcolm Gillespie on behalf of the club with an engraved Quaich and a bottle of 21-year old Glengoyne Whisky.
Accepting the gift Lynch said he had loved every minute of his time in the role and had made lifelong friendships in the club and the wider game. He had many special memories that would stay with him for ever, not the least of them the winning try at Barking to secure promotion to the Championship. He paid tribute to all the volunteers who had helped rescue and grow the club since 2001 and singled out outgoing Chairman Sir David Reid for his commitment and energy raising the investment and sponsorship to make professional rugby possible once more at London Scottish.
Sir David Reid was made Honorary Life President in recognition of his work as Chairman since 2009, driving forward investment in London Scottish and sponsorship by leading brands. Accepting the honour Sir David thanked all those on the board and others who helped propel the club forward. He singled out Norrie Jackson for all the work involved converting pledges on to investment and paid special tribute to the work and his partnership with Rod Lynch.
He said he would continue to help in any way he could and intended to champion the annual St Andrew's Day lunches which have proved highly successful.
The Executive Committee was re-elected, with the exception of Paul Burnell replacing Rod Lynch as President, and three long-serving volunteers were made Vice Presidents: Angus Stewart, Jock Meikle and Paul McFarland, who between them have totted up 60 years’ service on the club executive committee and the board of London Scottish International.