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Thursday December 21, 2017

SPORT

Wellington rugby stalwart remembered fondly Highly respected former New Zealand Maori first-five and long-time rugby administrator Matiu (Mattie) Blackburn died earlier this month, aged 73. Matiu made an immense contribution to rugby in New Zealand at all levels including holding the post of New Zealand Maori selector from 1979 to 1989, and sitting on the New Zealand Rugby Council from 1990 to 1995. Originally from Raetihi, Matiu made his mark in Wellington where his feats, particularly his famous left-foot drop goals, became the stuff of folklore for the Wellington Football Club, and the Wellington Lions, who he represented 52 times between 1966 and 1970. He was good enough to play two matches for the New Zealand Maori in 1969 and went on to be both a selector and later highly regarded manager of the team. Blackburn remained active in rugby until his final days and was a current member of Wellington Rugby’s appointments committee. Wellington Rugby chairman Iain Potter says he could not speak more highly of Blackburn’s contribution and character. “Mattie was highly regarded and highly respected across every level of Wellington Rugby,” Iain says. “His contribution to rugby in the region was huge and his influence on young players was immeasurable over a long period of time. He will be hugely missed, but never forgotten.” Perhaps Matiu’s best-remembered moment was when he kicked two drop goals at McLean Park during Wellington’s unforgettable Ranfurly Shield challenge

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Matiu Blackburn. PHOTO: Supplied

against Hawke’s Bay in 1967. Matiu’s two drop goals had Wellington leading in the final minutes, and on the brink of a famous victory only for Hawke’s Bay opposite Blair Furlong to respond with a drop goal of his own to tie the game 12-12 and keep the Shield in Napier. The dramatic finish sparked historic scenes as a record McLean Park crowd of more than 29,000 mobbed the Hawke’s Bay players on the final whistle. Matiu and Blair would become lifelong friends. When Matiu had hung up his boots he moved into administration, holding every known administrative position at the club before being made Patron earlier this year. Blackburn also played for the Ponsonby club late in his career and was good enough to represent Auckland in 1971.

New Zealand’s national cricket selectors need to realise resting players are only for the tired. Captain Kane Williamson and test match vice captain Tim Southee will both miss matches during the current one day international series against the West Indies. This, according to selector Gavin Larsen, is to manage workload ahead of a summer which sees a series against ‘Ashes bashed England’ loom in the latter stages of the summer. Firstly, neither player should need a rest just two test matches into a home summer, secondly their absence robs New Zealand fans of watching two of our best players live and thirdly there is not the depth to warrant such a move. In 2017, there is the desire to rest and rotate to create depth. This was started by the All Blacks in the lead up to the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The difference between rugby and cricket in this country is depth - namely rugby has it and cricket never will. Like netball, cricket has a core of players capable of contributing to the international game but when stretched for resources, we will be found out. There is no major campaign this summer, no World Cup, so no need for these silly test tactics.

Williamson thrives on batting and being involved and in his mid 20s, he shouldn’t need a break from a home summer campaign. Southee could do with a refresh given he’s been below his best the last couple of years but the home summer is not the time. Supporters should feel rightly aggrieved by the move. The West Indies are a rabble of a side though the return of Chris Gayle for the coloured clothing matches does offer a little spice. If I had tickets to a match where Williamson or Southee were now rested, I’d be considering a refund. Sport in 2017 is now more than ever an entertainment masterpiece. The public have plenty of options in terms of where to spend their money and if New Zealand Cricket continue to undervalue that fact, then crowds will stop turning up. It’s never been easier to turn down a ticket to a sports match in favour of your comfortable couch and your drinks that you can get from the fridge as opposed to line up and overpay for. Give me the best players and you’ll get my money more often than not. Treat fans with disdain and many, like me, will stay at home and save our money.

EASTERN SUBURBS

SPORTS TRUST SPONSORED BY MIRAMAR & KILBIRNIE THE EASTERN SUBURBS SPORTS TRUST HAS GRANTED $2,600 IN NOVEMBER 2017 TO EASTERN SUBURBS SPORTS TEAMS AND INDIVIDUALS, KINDERGARTENS, SCHOOLS, COLLEGES AND SPORTS CLUBS ETC.

CHILDREN OF KILBIRNIE SCHOOL AT THE OPENING OF THERE REVAMPED SCHOOL POOL

MEMBERS OF OLYMPIC HARRIERS JUNIOR MEN’S TEAM – TRAVEL TO ROTORUA

DEAN GALT (ESST) WITH REECE - MARANUI SURF LIFE SAVING CLUB – NEW HANDHELD RADIO’S

THE EASTERN SUBURBS SPORTS TRUST HAS GRANTED TO THE FOLLOWING EASTERN SUBURBS SPORTS TEAMS AND INDIVIDUALS • LUKE HUMPRIES – ULTIMATE FRISBEE TRAVEL PERTH • RANGI TAWERA – BASKETBALL TRAVEL HAWAII • KITANA TAWERA – BASKETBALL TRAVEL HAWAII • WGTN TRIATHLON & MULTISPORTS – WGTN CLUB SPRINT

THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF MONEY THE EASTERN SUBURBS SPORTS TRUST HAS GIVEN AWAY TO DATE $1,680,855

Cook Strait News 21-12-17  

Cook Strait News 21-12-17

Cook Strait News 21-12-17  

Cook Strait News 21-12-17