Dhahran Rugby Union Football Club

Officials and Supporters

Dhahran Rugby Union Football Club

Every club has a constitution, officials, and supporters and Dharan Rugby Union Football Club was no exception. Its first constitution established the Club in 1973/74, but a new one was adopted in 1976/77 when DRUFC became an Aramco self-directed AEA Group. Strip worn by the players went through a similar process.  The first strip was Black and yellow striped shirts with white shorts (1973/74) which was upgraded to Red and white striped shirts with white shorts in 1975/76 with the cash raised from the May Ball, and then subsequently in 1978/79, Red shirts with white shorts were adopted for the 1st XV. The 2nd XV played in Blue and white striped shirts with white shorts. Its crest and club patch adopted the Saudi palm tree and cross swords.

The main Office Holders established under the Constitutions and who held office while the Club existed were:

Dhahran Rugby Union Football Club

There was, in addition to the Office Holders above, a Fixtures Secretary and a Social Secretary, and then the second Constitution provided for an extensive support structure:

  • A Kit Secretary and Coach supporting the 1st XV and 2nd XV Captains.
  • A Formalities Secretary supporting the Secretary.
  • A Fundraising Secretary supporting the Treasurer.
  • An Assistant and a Pitch Squad, co-opted as and when required, supporting the Pitch Secretary.
  • A Beverage Secretary and a Social Member supporting the Social Secretary.
  • A Travel Secretary supporting the Fixtures Secretary.

And, of course, there were others who gave their time and found the resources to help.

Recollection by Lesley Williams 1979 – 1986 who was Secretary in 1983/84, Editor of The Dummy and co-producer of DRUFC publications:

Dhahran Rugby Union Football Club

I arrived in Dhahran in January 1979, the day after the Shah of Iran fled to Egypt. There’s no real connection. A week later, I was at a party which introduced me to the Rugby Club. So, when I applied for my first exit/re-entry visa to go to Kuwait, my supervisor felt compelled to ask if I was going with “that rugby club,” adding, “You won’t get far with that lot.” Well, she was wrong. I covered all of the Gulf and tagged along on tours to Bangkok and Manila.

No more on that, though, you had to be there! Putting DRUFC on my CV helped land me a dream job in Geneva later. I remember two girls' versus boys’ rugby matches on the old rough end-of-the-airport pitch. To be fair, the boys played in wellies filled with sand or tied to each other and the definition of “off-side” had to be rewritten. I thought the coaching team of Hamilton, Grabs and Cocks had every right to be proud of their girls.

We organized more events than any Olympic Committee:

  • The 1983 7-a-side tournaments complete with bagpiper, karate demos and bacon butties.
  • The 1979 Dhahran Village Fete featuring fish and chips, double-decker bus rides and a Dhahran Transport logo and map modelled on London’s famous tube map;
Dhahran Rugby Union Football Club
Dhahran Rugby Union Football Club
Dhahran Rugby Union Football Club

May Balls every year (Part 3), with star-studded entertainment - Jean Sullivan’s can-can girls and Bignell’s Big Band come to mind.

Back in pre-internet days, getting news out and keeping everyone in touch was a job for good old paper newsletters. The words “you have just been handed a Dummy” introduced what was meant to be a regular news outlet for the club. It didn’t always come out on time but was fun to produce. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank Aramco for the photocopier and the VP of Materials Supply for not giving me very much to do.

Dhahran Rugby Union Football Club

And our world did not just revolve around the rugby pitch. I remember DRUFC golf and sailing sub-groups. I remember so many parties, so much fun and laughter, home games, away trips, so many good times. Thank you all.

Recollection by Carolyn Coles (now Johnson) 1977 – 1985, Co-producer of DRUFC publications and helped the Social Secretary with Event catering:

Dhahran Rugby Union Football Club

It wasn’t long after I arrived in 1977, that I was taken along to a DRUFC event. Over the years I got more involved, and I can remember lining up with the players at the old pitch picking up the rocks and throwing them off to the side before they could play.

Dhahran Rugby Union Football Club

We had so many amazing events - sheet and pin, hat party, punk party and annual May Balls.  I can remember lots of fantastic trips to other Gulf states for rugby matches, especially the smell at Bahrain’s pitch with a chicken farm just up the road and The Red Lion pub in Dubai which was such a complete contrast to the Dubai of today.

What fun it was working with Lesley Williams to produce tour brochures for Singapore, Bangkok, and Manila. Everyone was such a good sport about it. We were asked to put together the various magazines for the "Tours" to places like Bangkok, Singapore, and Manila. We spent many hugely entertaining hours prising photos and information out of various members of the club, some more forthcoming than others. Some of the stories when the guys returned are not fit for publishing in this recollection!!

Dhahran Rugby Union Football Club

I also remember the Village Fete that DRUFC organized in Dhahran where we had a traditional Fish and Chip stand along with 'It's a Knockout' games. I seem to remember that it got very windy and dusty towards the end, and we had a lot of frozen cod fillets left over.

As I had taken on the catering for DRUFC functions, especially when other Gulf League teams were visiting, I was given the task of using up the fish. What else could be done but Fish Pie! I had a team of people helping - peeling and mashing potatoes into a bucket and cooking the cod in milk to make the sauce. When asked, "What's for dinner after the match?" and I replied that it was "fish pie," a lot of people looked disappointed until they ate it, and all came back for seconds.

Other publications we had to produce would have been Match covers such as these:

Dhahran Rugby Union Football Club

The Club brought everybody together and through the home and away games we got to meet and know lots of others, all drawn to work and play in the Middle East. A time that we all enjoyed and has given us lasting friendships.

Part 5 Part 7

Dhahran Rugby Union Football Club

About The Author

Arriving in Saudi Arabia in 1976 was like coming home, as Richard had been brought up in Kuwait as an “oilbrat” during the 1950s and 60s where his dad was Chief Health Officer for the Kuwait Oil Co. As a Chartered Accountant, Richard worked for Aramco in both Internal Audit and Contract Cost Compliance, but despite his father’s prowess as a golfer and his mother as a tennis player (Persian Gulf Oil Companies Lawn Tennis Association Ladies Champion in 1956), his social life gravitated to the Dhahran Rugby Club and amateur dramatics. He used his organising skills to become a representative on the Aramco Employees Association, Treasurer for DRUFC between 1976/77 and 1978/79, and then Chairman in 1979/80 before leaving in 1980. He continued with a varied finance career in shipping (Japan) automobiles (Guam) and dance education (UK).

Finally retiring in 2015, Richard and his husband live in London and he has used his time not only to continue travelling, but also to write Dance into Business for dance students wanting to start a business.

About this Article

The Unofficial History was produced to mark what would have been the approximate 50th Anniversary of the Dhahran Rugby Union Football Club (DRUFC) 1972- 2022, depending on what year you believe the club to have been established.

The Editor: Richard Thom first started playing rugby as a young boy in Scotland playing for the 1st XV at prep school, and then the Colts and 1st XV at Strathallan. He rediscovered rugby in Saudi Arabia, and not only played for the 1st and 2nd XVs on the wing but helped to keep the Club on track as Treasurer and Chairman. Moving to Japan after Saudi, Richard continued to play for the Yokohama Country and Athletic Club (YCAC) as second row for the 2nd XV, a far cry from the wing in Saudi.

Coming back to the UK in the mid-80s, it was the camaraderie among those in the club who played, supported or just joined in that helped to bond us all together to meet regularly and to mark the occasion with a "Not the May Ball," the third for which this booklet was produced.

Dhahran Rugby Union Football Club

The Contributors:

  • John Bailey 1975 - 1980
  • Mike Galbraith 1971
  • John Kates 1973 - 1975
  • Bill Flynn 1973 - 1975
  • Martin Watson 1974 – 1977
  • Stan Peters 1974 – 1978
  • Mike Sullivan 1978 - 1984
  • Graham Vizor 1977 – 2007

The Supporters:

  • Carolyn Coles 1977 - 1985
  • Lesley Williams 1979 - 1986