A Tribute to Paul Rendall 'The Judge'

13th June 2023

Paul Rendall playing for England v Wales

There are legends and then there are super-legends. Paul Anthony George Rendall, known to all as Judge, was definitely in the second category.

Born in Islington, he and his family soon moved to Slough where he grew up and began his rugby career. His powerful scrummaging and all-round nous soon attracted the attention of the 'big' clubs andhe made the move to Wasps in 1976. He became part of a legendary front row. He was the loose-head, with Jeff Probyn on the other side of the scrum and hooker Alan Simmons enjoying the benefits of their work. They frequently scrummaged so low that Simmons hooked the ball with his head. Before joining Wasps, Probyn had played against them, for Richmond. He said Rendall was the best loose-head he'd ever faced. 'One of the tight-head's jobs is to disrupt the hooker's ball. You could put pressure on Paul, but you never got near his hooker.'

Despite his considerable reputation, it was eight years before he finally broke into the national side and he won his first England cap against Wales, in 1984 at the ripe old age of 30. Like the fine wines he loved, props mature with age! He was in the England party which toured South Africa that summer. It was during that tour that he first presided over the players' court. The legend of the Judge was born, of which more later.

He went on to win 28 England caps, playing in two World Cups. His final appearance for his country came in the pool game against Italy, in 1991. Sadly,injury brought a premature end to his campaign.

He was an integral part of the Wasps side which won the Courage League in 1989-90. He left the club in 1991 to become Bracknell's head coach. Under his guidance, they won five promotions in six years and made it up to what is now the Championship.

While his on-field reputation was enormous, it was his gifts as tour judge which lifted him to legend status. He was at his best on the traditional pre-season visits to St Jean-de-Luz, where the local band paraded in the streets, ahead of his court sessions. Perhaps the most famous sentence he handed out was on a certain J.Probyn, during an England tour. His friend, club-mate and front row partner was sentenced to be stripped naked, tied to a tree near the entrance to the team hotel and made to sing 'Chanson d'Amour', whenever anybody approached. When Judge was later asked which egregious offence had warranted this draconian punishment, he chuckled and said: "He chatted up my missus!"

Lastautumn, the world of rugby was saddened when news of Judge's MND diagnosis came out. Old teammates rallied round to support him. The Wasps Legends Foundation held a fund-raising lunch. Former England captain Will Carling was a key mover in arranging areunion lunch for the 1991 and 1992 Grand Slam squads, in honour of the Judge. Sunday Times rugby correspondent Stephen Jones visited him and wrote a moving piece which reported that, although the body was now weak, the spirit remained as strong as ever.

A few days after Judge died, the author of this piece had a long conversation with one of his old opponents - a prop with a rival club, who played for England B. His son, also a prop, is now in the academy of one of the Premiership clubs. He said that Judge was constantly contacting him with tips and advice. A few days before his death, Judge sent his old rival a brief message, urging him to enjoy life and drink good wine.

Many players earn our respect and admiration, but few inspire the genuine love which people felt for Judge. News of his death prompted a flood of heartfelt, often emotional tributes from teammates and opponents. We all hope that his family has been comforted by the enormous display of affection.

All rise. The Judge has left the building. We shall not see his like again.

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Lawrence Dallaglio at the Wasps Legends Rugby Golf Classic in La Manga in June 2023.

Wasps Legends La Manga Golf Classic 2023

Wasps Legends Charitable Foundation held their 6th ‘Wasps Legends Rugby Golf Classic’ in La Manga in June sponsored by Deepbridge Capital LLP. Since its inception, the Wasps Legends Rugby Golf Classic has brought together Rugby and other sporting legends to play in a two-day golf tournament to raise money for charitable projects close to the hearts Wasps Legends community. Our celebrities, a mix of Wasps Legends and other legends of the game included Giselle Mather, Ken Moss, Chris Braithwaite, Peter Scrivener, Sol N’Jie, Rob Lozowski, Jason Turner, Jimmy Gopperth, Simon Shaw MBE, Joe Worsley MBE, Andy Gomarsall MBE, Lawrence Dallaglio OBE, Damian Hopley MBE and Jason Leonard OBE. We were also pleased to welcome back football legend Liverpool ex-striker Neil Mellor and Invictus Games Captain, Major Bernie Broad. The sporting stars entertained all the teams, which boasted caps from across the home nations as well as the British and Irish Lions and the Barbarians. Teams were also treated to three charity dinners, which all contributed to the fundraising over the weekend, which raised over £75,000. The money raised will benefit the Wasps Legends Charitable Foundation’s grant recipient charities which will be voted on later this year. We want to thank our title sponsors, Deepbridge Capital LLP, for their continued support of the event. We would also like to thank our other sponsors, for which we are incredibly grateful for their ongoing generosity. This includes Elmsite Services, Red Industries, Buzzacott, Artel Scaffolding, Bates, Purple Ski, Skybound Services, Hadley Property Group, Stockford Anderson and HISL.