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News > Remembering OV > Far East Pioneer

Far East Pioneer

The recent Obituary of Michael Talamo uncovered an extract from his on Auto Biography. It follows:-

I first arrived in Hong Kong early in 1951 and joined the Hong Kong rugby club later that same year and was lucky enough to be selected to be part of a Colony representative side to tour Japan. Also in the party flown to Japan apart from a few civilian players from the HKRFC were players from the Services. I still remember the rather beaten up old 'plane' that we travelled in and the following is an extract from my 'memoirs' describing the tour.

Understandably every day in Hong Kong provided completely fresh experiences for me. First of all I happily discovered that there was a flourishing Rugby Football Club and so lost no time in joining the HKRFC. Members were drawn from young expatriates like myself employed in the Colony and there were also teams from the Hong Kong Police, Army, Navy and RAF who were our usual opponents. However, in January 1952 a tour to Japan was organised made up from representatives from all these clubs and I was lucky enough to be amongst those chosen to go.                                  This was the first time that Japan had had a chance to play against teams from outside Japan since before the war and although they were extremely keen and fit they were short of stature compared to Europeans. We played firstly against Meiji University, then All Kanto, which covered the Tokyo area and also All Kansai which covered the area around Kobe and which included many tough chaps employed in the steelworks there. Our final match was played against a scratch team of foreigners 'who had found themselves in Japan, this comprising employees of local branches of British companies leavened by several Commonwealth servicemen who were in Japan for 'rest and recreation 'after serving in the Korean war. Many of these were New Zealanders who played to a high standard and this match was the only one, which we managed to lose!

Our Japanese hosts entertained us splendidly and introduced us both to the pleasures and rituals of Japanese eating with kimono-clad Geisha girls in attendance to feed us. I must confess though that we all found difficulty in sitting cross-legged on the tatami matted floor for any length of time, becoming very uncomfortable irrespective of fitness. We were also treated to the pleasurable experience of the Japanese bath house where the personable young ladies in attendance would soap us down and scrub our backs while we stood waist deep in hot water filled wooden tubs, our initial embarrassment at this new experience soon wearing off!!

As a new arrival in Hong Kong I lost no time in pursuing my other interests and apart from Rugby I joined the HK Arts Club as I was a keen amateur painter and a happy outcome of this was that at one of our weekly meetings I met my future wife Laine and we have recently celebrated our 62nd anniversary with son Nigel who arrived in 1955. It will be seen that playing rugby would thus no longer be my main priority although I continued to play and was included in the HKRFC side to play against the Commander British Forces side early in 1953. I only played occasionally after our marriage and I do not recall ever having received a Rugby Cap; perhaps they were created after my playing days!


Mike was presented with his cap in 2017.

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