Tributes to paid to ‘immense’ Steve Todd, the man who skippered Portsmouth RFC to their highest ever league position
Tributes have been paid to the man who skippered Portsmouth RFC to the highest league position in their history.
Steve Todd was captain when the club won promotion to London Division 1 in the mid-1990s.
He spent his working life at the Naval Base in Portsmouth and also ran a pub at Westbourne for several years.
Steve passed away earlier this month, after being diagnosed with cancer earlier in the year. Having been a patient at QA Hospital, he spent his last days at his sister Lou’s home in Drayton with members of his family. He was 58.
A Portsmouth RFC statement said: ‘Steve was an outstanding inside centre, captain and leader who always had time for everyone he met.
‘Kind and compassionate, a club man through and through, he will be missed by all who had the honour to know him and call him a friend.’
Michael Bailey - the current Portsmouth 2nd XV manager - had known Todd since his childhood. They attended City of Portsmouth Boys School together, joined Portsmouth RFC at the same time in 1978, and were also apprentices in the Dockyard together.
‘Steve was an aggressive, skilful player,’ recalled Bailey. ‘He mainly played at 12 (inside centre) but would do most of the tackling for our No 10.
‘Off the field, he had one of the best listening ears - even if he had his own problems, he would put everyone first. That was the sort of guy he was, he was a fantastic listener.
‘If you needed an honest answer to something, he would give you an honest answer. If you needed a hug, he’d give you a hug.
‘He was an inspirational figure, everyone in the club looked up to him. He was my best mate, but I would say there’s 20 other people at the rugby club who would say the same. He was that sort of person.
‘He was an immense guy. I’d probably known him since I was nine or ten. He used to say he looked like Sting!
‘He was my rock and he will leave a massive void for everyone - he was always the guy you went to when you had a problem, and lots of people did.
‘We were apprentices together at HMS Dockyard, and Steve worked there all his life. I was one of the ones who left due to Margaret Thatcher, but Steve stayed on and became a senior project officer.
‘He was a pub landlord at one time - he just did that on the side (while still working in the Dockyard). He had said he always wanted to do it - but later regretted it!’
Bailey added: ‘Steve was also a very patriotic man.
‘I remember we drove up to London for Charles and Diana’s wedding (40 years ago next week).
‘We drove up at 2am, parked at Putney Bridge and walked to Buckingham Palace. We were actually stood on the fountain outside the palace - we saw them leave and come back again.
‘It was an absolutely fantastic day.’
In addition to his Portsmouth RFC career, Steve also played for the Ministry of Defence national side who won the Civil Service Cup in 1989.
His playing career was virtually ended the season after he captained Portsmouth to promotion when he suffered a serious head injury in a Hampshire Senior Cup semi-final against Havant.
After having a metal plate inserted in his head as a result of an accidental collision, Steve played occasional games and later became Portsmouth’s colts coach because, according to Bailey, ‘he wanted to give something back to the game.’
In his working life, after starting as a Shipwright apprentice, Steve became a Shipwright, Inspector and then Planning Manager.
He also briefly owned The Stags Head pub in Westbourne where he organised and ran an annual pub sevens rugby tournament.
Many of the players who started their playing careers at these events went on to play for Portsmouth.
Steve leaves behind his three children - James, Shannon and Thomas - as well as his beloved April.
Portsmouth RFC will be holding a memorial lunch in honour of Steve before the home game with Weybridge on January 22, 2022 – a week after what would have been Steve’s 59th birthday. All players past and present will be invited.
Steve’s funeral takes place next Monday, July 26, at Portchester crematorium (2.30pm) followed by a celebration of his life at the Portsmouth RFC clubhouse at Rugby Camp.