Reinvesting in the community
by Andy Bryenton
The kick-off for Northland’s centenary of rugby, a special invitational game at Dargaville’s Pioneer Rugby Park early this month, has proven to be a huge success in more ways than one.
With a bigger crowd than the club has seen on the sidelines ever before, and celebrities such as Michael Jones and Bernice Mene attending, an after-function auction raised $23,680 to help improve facilities.
It’s a sum set for reinvestment in the community, says Chris Fife. He’s joined in his high opinion of the event, the first of many around the region to commemorate the 100-year milestone, by Northland Rugby Union president Sahron Morgan, who called the game and its attendant auction “a magnificent evening, and the perfect opener to our centenary celebrations”. NRU CEO Cameron Bell was equally effusive.
“The crowd support reflected the passion of a proud community,” said Bell.
“Congratulations on a successful auction, and on the recognition of past representatives of our proud union.”
New facilities are on the ‘wanted list’ to expand the scope and utility of Pioneer Rugby Park. Scoreboard upgrades and a new grandstand would make the local ground a ‘jewel in the crown’ of local sports, with the ability to host multi-sport events.
Meanwhile plans to further celebrate 100 years of community bonds through rugby have seen the Northern Wairoa sub-union collect memorable old photos of games gone by to display far from the grassy pitch; in Whangarei’s art gallery.
Historic pictures of players from Southern, Kaihu, Ruawai, Dargaville Old Boys and the Dargaville Sports Club have been sent along with the region’s much-contested Turnwald Shield to a display, which blends sports, history and high art.
This exhibit is opening in early April and will feature rugby history from all around the north.