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State of the game here outlined


LOCAL rugby is in good hands.

The Poverty Bay Rugby Football Union annual general meeting at Rugby Park this week was as much about high-quality people, the health of the game here and acknowledging selfless long service as it was a run-through of the union’s finances.

Outgoing president Dick Glover, one of Gisborne Boys’ High School’s finest first 15 coaches and a former Poverty Bay senior coach, joined the PBRFU administrative arm as GBHS delegate in 1964.

He has been succeeded as president by fellow PBRFU life member Tony Coutts, who served for 20 years on the Junior Advisory Board.

New Zealand Rugby Union patron Ian Kirkpatrick is now also patron of the PBRFU, while former JAB chairwoman Cara Haines remains on the board of directors but now as an independent board member.

Outgoing union chairman George Brown was thanked for his leadership, as was OBM club captain Thomas Crosby, who received a distinguished service award for his efforts on behalf of OBM and Golden Oldies rugby.

The games between Poverty Bay Legends and East Coast Legends draw past players and their families to Heartland matches as did the Poverty Bay Rugby Supporters Club founded by PBRFU life member, patron and radio broadcaster the late John Heikell.

Poverty Bay RFU chairman Hayden Swann spoke about the union’s adoption of a New Zealand Rugby initiative, The Rugby Way (Te Ara Ranga Tira).

It has four pillars, or pou: Be Welcoming (Te Pou Maioha), Be Passionate (Te Pou Ihiihi), Be Our Best (Te Pou Hiranga) and Play Fair (Te Pou Tika).

Swann said: “Our aim is to create an environment that increases participation and excellence, and maintains the proud history of Poverty Bay with a view to promoting education, health and wellbeing in the community through rugby.”

Swann reported that the union had clarified its various roles and decided how best to go about leading rugby in the area, with PBRFU chief executive Josh Willoughby and his staff having stepped up another level in the delivery of the strategic plan and values approach.

Willoughby talked about:

• The Rugby Way in action.

• The success of Barry Cup holders Waikohu in co-ordinating with other Poverty Bay, East Coast and Hawke’s Bay sub-unions to address concerns around player safety/fairness and, to that end, the need for all players to be registered.

• The emphasis on player registration and coach compliance, which led to a council of clubs review of senior competition rules and penalties, and their consistent application.

Willoughby reported that changes to structure and focus had allowed more time and resources to be invested in game development.

Poverty Bay’s game development team had visited more schools than ever. They had facilitated sessions at each club and built closer working relationships with referees, coaches and club volunteers.

Willoughby reported an operating deficit of around $39,000.

The union increased its revenue by around $70,000, largely due to increased sponsorship and grant funding, as well as more untagged funding from New Zealand Rugby.

“The union had budgeted for a small surplus but unbudgeted employee-related costs and an adjustment to depreciation calculations for the past few years pushed the financials into deficit,” Willoughby said.

“A change to the reporting year to December 31 last year provided for a much clearer picture at the end of 2019, which showed a positive net change in cash.

“Previously, the accounting year finished in October, when the union received a quarterly funding payment while still playing representative fixtures. The end-of-year cash position could be somewhat confusing.”

Willoughby said the union had made a big shift in focus and the way it operated and reviewed its practices to serve its community in a challenging time.

Participation numbers grew 11 percent on 2018 figures to around 2550 — an increase of 500 over the past two years and now the third highest of all Heartland unions.

Cara Haines became Ngatapa’s delegate to the JAB in 2014; six years later, she’s looking forward to seeing the big picture.

“I enjoyed my time and experience on the junior board, even the challenges we faced,” she said.

“I’m fortunate that I’ve had the backing of fellow board members, and also that New Zealand Rugby’s made it a priority to support Women in Governance.”

Outgoing president Glover acknowledged the contributions to Poverty Bay rugby of several people who had died in the past year — players Greenwood George (Jim) Duncan (who was also a chairman of the union), Dick Jones, Henare Lardelli, Henry Maxwell, Horace Lewis, and Eru (Buddy) Smith and Garry Thompson, both of whom were captains; administrators Eddie Evans and Gary Conwell; and longtime sponsor Terry Candy.

New Zealand Rugby Union patron Ian Kirkpatrick is now also patron of the PBRFU. All Black legend Ian Kirkpatrick is pictured scoring a try during the 33-12 win for New Zealand over Wales in 1969. New Zealand Herald archives picture