WORLD CUP RUGBY STAR REVEALS AN UNEXPECTED WEAKNESS

THERE HAS only been one occasion when Jason Leonard, the most-capped England rugby player of all time, has been intimidated on the pitch.

That moment came when Leonard met Norman Hadley, a six foot nine Canadian rugby union player with a scar down his cheek that “didn’t come from rugby”.

For reasons best known to himself, Leonard punched Hadley between the eyes so hard he broke his knuckle and his finger, to which Hadley replied: “Is that the best you can do, princess?”

Leonard told the anecdote at an evening event hosted by specialist finance recruiter KennedyPearce for 300 City guests from companies including ICAP, Munich Re, Morgan Stanley, John Lewis, Northern Rock and Aviva Investors.

But not all Leonard’s anecdotes were so colourful, said his interviewer Jeff Grout, KennedyPearce non-executive director and the former business manager for World Cup-winning England manager Sir Clive Woodward. “Along the way, we covered the topics of drugs in sport, high performance environments, and some of the factors that determined England’s success in 2003,” he said.

Followed by, naturally, the team’s prospects in the current World Cup tomorrow when they meet Scotland, the side known for its “frantic” playing pace. “England will slow the game down to then play it to their strengths and win,” predicted Leonard.

FRIGHT NIGHT
IF YOU visit this week’s Raindance Film festival in London, look out for the supernatural horror film Hollow – the City’s answer to The Blair Witch Project.

Danish investment banker Michael Axelgaard and management consultant Matthew Holt spent six months preparing for the shoot by working at night and weekends on top of their day jobs, before filming Hollow over a 12-day shoot in Suffolk last summer.

It’s not for the faint-hearted – the film tells the story of two young couples who uncover an ancient evil while in holiday in the English countryside – but it has already “caused a stir” on the international circuit after its premiere at Canada’s Fantasia Film Festival.

With six more film projects on their slate, it looks like the sideline born from Axelgaard and Holt’s “desperate need for a creative outlet” could become a new full-time job…

AIR WARS
RYANAIR boss Michael Leary is known for his strong opinions – and yesterday he let Colm Barrington, the chairman of Aer Lingus, know exactly what he thinks of the airline Ryanair holds a 29 per cent stake in.

“Dear Colm,” began O’Leary in his open letter to the London Stock Exchange. “Your claim that the board and management are fully dedicated to creating value for Aer Lingus is unsupported by any evidence... over the past five years.”

He has plenty of points to prove the opposite, though – ten of them, in fact, including the airline’s 12 changes of chief executive in 18 years and the rejection of two takeover offers. Unless things improve, expect O’Leary’s Aer Lingus shares to be offloaded fairly soon…

A KNIGHT’S TALE
THE NEWLY formed Women in Listed Derivatives group represents “the best opportunity for women to position themselves in senior and influential roles for more than 20 years”, says British Bankers Association chief executive Angela Knight (left).

Knight was a speaker at the network’s first annual lunch, hosted at the London Capital Club with RBS Futures and Options, where she discussed the importance of the role of women in finance and the desirability of increasing female representation on City boards.

“It is widely accepted that diversity is required, and the major public listed companies have all been asked for the percentage of women on the boards of their companies and on the next level down,” said Knight. “So they have to start to rethink their policies and about promoting women.”

BEST-DRESSED BANKERS
IT’S THAT time of year again – the annual Best Dressed Banker Awards, run by the Savile Row tailors Cad & the Dandy.

“Bankers may feel recession-worn, but they certainly aren’t threadbare,” said co-founder James Sleater, who runs the competition with Ian Meiers.

Last year’s winner was Greg Rellis, the OTC Europe commodities broker who described Cary Grant as his style guru (left), who is on this year’s judging panel alongside former boxer turned designer Chris Eubank.

Submit photos of yourself or your colleague at your most stylish when the competition goes live on 10 October, when the person with the most votes – and the person who nominated them – will both win a handmade suit worth £1,500. See www. cadandthedandy .co.uk