Roger Saumaize Vineyard | Burgundy, France | Rugby
The former president of the Rugby Football Union and old pal of mine, Bob Reeves, indulged in a real passion by investing a few years ago in one of the premium Pouilly-Fuissé regions of France and a wonderful vineyard of rare quality. The viticulteur, Roger Saumaize, has been attached to the vineyard for over 25 years. When Bob and his partners from the family of the owner, who had died, they kept Roger on, still using the feudal mettayage system, whereby he receives a proportion of the wine rather than being paid.
It has now worked well for over a decade, during which Roger was awarded Burgundy Winemaker of the Year by his peers. Pouilly Fuisse itself has become even more fashionable in recent times, as the wines of Southern Burgundy have become increasingly recognised. This has a wonderful balance of buttery notes and minerality, making it typical of the best products of the region. It is in a stunningly beautiful area, on the edge of the village Vergisson, nestled between the two dramatic hills, Solutre and Vergisson itself.
Sport has always been close to Bob’s heart, having been a keen player of football, rugby, tennis, golf- you name it! But cricket was the game at which he excelled. A fiendish slow bowler and formidable left-handed batsman – Bob played county cricket in the second eleven for Lancashire, and later also for Gloucestershire.
While in Lancaster he qualified as a PE teacher and taught this and maths for four years at Lancaster Grammar school. His next move was become an Assistant Lecturer in Physical Education at the University of Bristol. Here, as well as coaching various university sport teams in a variety of sports, he went on to become the University’s Director of Sport, Exercise and Health. During his time in the role he established a Master’s Programme in Exercise and Health Science – the first in the UK.
After years of devoted service to the university and expanding its Sporting horizons, his achievements and efforts in the world of sport were put to the test when he became President of the Rugby Football Union in 2013- his time in role was regarded by all as a fine vintage! He continues his sporting story as director of the Foundation for Leadership through Sport (FLS), a charity set up to help develop leaders and understand leadership in, of and through sport.