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Father and Son: I was so nervous when I played rugby with my son Jack, says Rich Harvey

By Connor Thompson

A real family affair.

Taken from The Local Answer, by Roger Jackson. Link to article is here: The Local Answer.

Rich Harvey has played rugby in some of the biggest stadiums in the country but says the most nervous he has ever been was when he made a cameo appearance for Old Patesians 4ths in a cup game at the end of last season.

The 52-year-old loosehead prop went on as a replacement in a Cheltenham and District Combination Minor Cup game at Tewkesbury, helped them to win and played alongside his 17-year-old son Jack for the first and almost certainly only time.

“It’s not something I ever thought I’d do,” said Harvey, who spent almost 15 years at the Pats either side of a five-year spell with Moseley before hanging up his boots 13 years ago. “I always said that I’d retired and that was it. I had no real interest in ever playing again.”

What made the game even more special was that Harvey’s long-time friends Dave Parry and Pete Mitchell - Jack’s two godfathers - were also in the team.

Harvey still took some persuading, however, that a ‘comeback’ was a good idea.

“I really didn’t want to,” he said, “but Jack had played in the previous round with Pete and Dave. He kept asking me to play but I said ‘no’.

“Then I got home and I noticed my boots had come out of the attic. Then it was the gumshield, then the socks and then the whole kit bag so in the end I knew I had to play.”

So, how did it go?

“I went on for 10 minutes before half-time and could have done another five,” he laughed, before adding, “I was so nervous before going on, I didn’t know what to expect.

“I’ve played at some of the biggest grounds in the country like Welford Road and Franklin’s Gardens but that’s the most nervous I’ve ever been.”

Harvey, a farmer, first started playing rugby when he was at Tewkesbury School but it was when he joined Old Pats as a 16-year-old that he began to take it seriously.

“I was very lucky,” he said, “I enjoyed my rugby. I played at the right time of my life and got very few injuries.”

He has been close friends with Mitchell, also a prop, and back row Parry for more than 20 years. He first came across Mitchell at Tewkesbury School - Mitchell, who is also a farmer, was two years below him – while he remembers playing against Parry when he was at Gloucester in the early 1990s.

But it was at Moseley under the guidance of coach Dave Protherough that their friendships blossomed and they remain close to this day.

After mixing it with the big boys of club rugby with Moseley all three joined Pats and were instrumental in the club’s dramatic climb through the divisions in the late 90s and early noughties.

The highlight for Harvey, of course, was that wonderful day at Twickenham in 2001 when the club won the Intermediate Cup in thrilling style with a 25-24 win over Blaydon.

That day cemented a family/club relationship that has now lasted for 50 years.

“Jack is the third generation of our family to play for the club,” said Harvey. “My dad John was in the first Pats team to win the Cheltenham Combination’s Senior Cup in 1972.

“He played in the second row alongside Ray Kingscott and it shows what the club is all about because I played with his son Dave and Dave’s son Rob has played with Jack.”

These days Harvey’s work commitments mean that he is not so involved with rugby although he takes a keen interest in his son’s development as a blindside flanker.

He is showing the same appetite for the game that his dad had and plays in the 1st XV at King’s School in Gloucester and also plays for Old Pats Colts.

“He had to work very hard to get into the team at Pats because they are a strong year group,” said Harvey senior, “but he’ll do well because he is prepared to put in the work.”

So how does he compare to his dad as a player?

“He’s a lot faster than me,” he laughed.

He may not have been the quickest, but Harvey senior was a serious rugby player - and it looks like son Jack is too.

Updated 12:01 - 30 Jun 2017 by Connor Thompson

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