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'World's oldest rugby player' Benny hangs up his boots at 79

By Herald Express  |  Posted: December 12, 2013

Benny_Goodman

CENTRE OF ACTION: Benny Goodman (with ball) in action for Paignton

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ONE of the more unusual rugby careers comes to an end this Sunday (2.30pm) when Benny Goodman runs out for the last time in a Paignton shirt.

Benny was 79 earlier this month and few will argue with Paignton's claim he is the oldest rugby player in the world!

Sunday's game is a testimonial for Goodman, who has been in poor health recently.

Goodman, a former serviceman, was a late convert to the oval-ball code having been a dyed-in-the-wool soccer player until his late 30s.

He switched codes at 38 and stuck with rugby ever since.

"I used to play football for Devon General until they got a new manager in who said I was too old for a regular game," recalled Benny.

"He said they would give me a call if they were short — and that really rankled with me.

"Tommy Scott, a pal of mine, suggest trying rugby, so I started going training with him at Paignton.

"They tried me at hooker first, which I quite enjoyed, but I really wanted to play somewhere in the team where I could stretch my legs.

"So I had a go at full-back and on the wing and played there ever since.

"I never had any great ambitions to play in the first team and was happy just to play in the seconds.

"But I did get four games for the firsts — including one against Bristol United, who had an England B international playing.

"And when Lew Wood started the Rams XV (third team), I just carried on playing."

Goodman has scaled down his rugby playing in recent seasons, but whenever Paignton had a Veterans' game you could guarantee he would have at least 10 minutes.

All things have to end eventually and Goodman has decided to call it a day after being injured in touring game against Chobham earlier this year.

Chobham are sending down a couple of representatives to play in the game between a Paignton XV and a President's Barbarians XV.

Numerous old team-mates, including former Exeter stars Andy Baker and Nick Bodnar, will be having match time in one or the other of the teams.

President's XV: D Daines, T Porosa, P Wallis, G Shillabeer, J Jinks, K Sculey, A Jones, A Dundan, L Talbot, R Poustie, I Wakeham, R Trump, P Bastin, A Baker, S Trump, N Bodnar, G Moate, K Primmer, P Fenton, G Richardson, D Shillabeer, A Simpson, G Griffiths, Simon Ballinger, D Siddall Snr, N Moloney, P Thomas, B Chadwick, G Jones.

Barbarians: N Rowlands, P Taylor, M Molyneux, C Dorling, W Kingsley, N English, Sam Ballinger, J Taylor, M Ashworth, S Kingsley, B Cotton, S Lockley, D Grant, M Binnie, S Milne, N Wright, J Barron, J Hunt, S Gleghorn, S Alexander, S Clements, A DeBurgh, J Rowe, D Siddal Jnr, J Hoare, P Jordan, M Prosser, L Kirkham, D Fidge, S Edwards, J Crocker.

Referee: Nigel Boyd.

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