The Friends of Sydney University Football Club (the “Friends”) was founded in 1996 by Peter Hemming, Executive Chairman of Heathley Limited.  This was at a time when rugby was moving towards professionalism.  It was also a time when Sydney University Football Club was at risk of relegation.

An influential coterie of senior businessmen and professionals were approached with a plan to establish a specialised mentoring group.  This group, the Friends, has made a critical contribution to what is now one of the most successful and sustainable rugby clubs in the world, Sydney University Football Club.

The Friends has grown significantly and currently has over 50 prominent senior business executives and professionals across many industries.  All of them are committed to mentoring the players of the Club although, interestingly, only one third of them played rugby for Sydney University and only one half of the Friends attended the University of Sydney, but all are committed to assisting the players and the Club.

The Friends provides two significant contributions:

  1. A mentoring programme for the players aimed to assist them in succeeding in their business and professional careers. 

  2. Annual donations from Members for the Sydney University Football Club Foundation.

Operating under strict COVID-19 guidelines, the 2021 Friends of Sydney University Football Club KPMG cocktail party took place on Wednesday 3 March 2021. Last year’s cocktail party was cancelled because of COVID but it was good to have a full house of almost 50 people this time. Under COVID restrictions, numbers were capped, and we were unable to accommodate everyone who wished to attend.

David Mortimer AO, Chairman of the Friends, opened the event welcoming everyone and giving an update of plans to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the formation of this unique organisation. In Tony Mulveney’s absence, Hugh Summerhayes welcomed everyone to KPMG with several anecdotes about transitioning from being a player to being part of a global organisation. Hugh was followed by David Lyons, President of SUFC, who gave attendees an insight into the rigorous preparation that was going on at the Club as the Shute Shield opening date of 10 April approaches.

Former SUFC President, Angus Stuart led the panel of Leonie Lum, Scott Stumbles and Hamish Corlett in a wide-ranging discussion including their favourite moments playing for the Club; Angus, Hamish and Scott were all halfbacks, and the repartee was highly amusing and direct. Leonie gave the group a glimpse of the challenges but also the satisfaction of dealing with all forty-one clubs which fall under Sydney University Sport and Fitness umbrella. The discussion about the effects of COVID-19 on individuals, firms and the future utilisation of office space generated quite some debate from the floor as the panel worked through their views.

Our thanks to KPMG for hosting another highly successful Friends of SUFC event. Feedback has been universally positive about the format and content of the evening’s entertainment and we look forward to the next Friends’ event which is the Legends’ Lunch on June 19.

Ray Dearlove