Rugby excellence honoured

Bay of Plenty Rugby Union CEO Mike Rogers is happy with how the weekend celebrations of the union’s centenary went.

The celebration was at the weekend in Rotorua with a multitude of past and present players, administrators, management and fans.


Bay of Plenty Rugby Union CEO Mike Rogers at Baypark.

“This was a truly special weekend and it highlighted what an outstanding history Bay of Plenty Rugby has had over the past 100 years,” says Mike.

“We were especially delighted to be able to recognise the past players, coaches and administrators that have played such an important part in the Bays history.

“To have such a large number of former players attend is recognition of the importance that rugby has been and continues to be in their lives.

“We also need to acknowledge the huge effort made by the volunteers on the centennial committee who made this weekend possible.”

Two Bay of Plenty Rugby Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented at the formal centennial luncheon held at the Holiday Inn on Saturday. 

Another significant formality at the luncheon was the announcement of the Bay of Plenty Rugby Dream Team selected from players that have worn the blue and gold uniform over the last 100 years.

The BOPRU Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to two men that have both made an enduring mark on worldwide rugby along with outstanding service to Bay of Plenty Rugby.

It is appropriate that the first BOPRU Award was presented in the year of the Rugby World Cup as the recipient was one of the architects of the first Rugby World Cup held in Australia and New Zealand in 1987.

Dick Littlejohn, who has lived in Whakatane for most of his life is a former player, All Black manager, New Zealand Rugby Union Councillor and most notably the New Zealand co-founder of the Rugby World Cup.

Dick Littlejohn and (Sir) Nicholas Shehadie from Australia were handed the baton of first convincing the powers of world rugby to establish the first Rugby World Cup, then putting together the tournament in the Southern Hemisphere in 1987.

The Rugby World Cup has grown to become the third largest sporting event in the world with 1.6 million tickets on sale this year.

However, for all of Dick’s achievements on the world and New Zealand stage, he has remained a passionate lifetime supporters of Bay of Plenty Rugby.

Whether at club or sub-union level, or guiding the fortune of Bay rugby as a Bay of Plenty Rugby Union administrator he has never wavered in his pursuit of excellence in Bay of Plenty Rugby.

The second recipient of the BOPRU Lifetime Achievement Award has changed the face of World Rugby Sevens.

Gordon Tietjens, who has been the New Zealand Sevens Coach since 1994, has put together a record that is unlikely to ever be surpassed.

Four Commonwealth Games Sevens Gold Medals, along the IRB Rugby Sevens International series title every year but two since the circuit was established in 1999, bear testament to a truly inspirational coaching mentor.

Gordon’s greatest strength is his uncanny ability to unearth undiscovered talent and turn them into Rugby Sevens stars.

As a player Gordon represented Bay of Plenty between 1981 and 1989, wearing the blue and gold jersey on 86 occasions. However, it is Rugby Sevens where he has made an indelible mark.

In 1992 Gordon took a Bay Sevens side to the time honoured Melrose Sevens in Scotland, which was then considered the pinnacle world event of the shortened version of the game. The Bay side returned home with the prestigious title after beating Kelso 17-12 in the tournament final.

The second significant recognition at the centennial luncheon was the announcement of the Bay of Plenty Rugby Dream Team.

Selected by BOPRU Historian Brent Drabble, former Bay of Plenty All Black Graeme Crossman and Dick Littlejohn, the team represented 15 of the finest players ever to pull on the blue and gold uniform over the last 100 years.

While many of the fifteen selected achieved higher honours such as All Black and Maori All Black representation, it was considered secondary to their achievements in the blue and gold uniform.

Their contributions, whether on the field of play or as ambassadors off the paddock, and their passion and pride of playing for their province, were the primary considerations in the selection of the 15 legends of the game in the Bay of Plenty.

Bay of Plenty Rugby Dream Team

1 RD (Dinny) Mohi 2 HR (Hika) Reid 3 PR (Peter) Kennedy 4 GJ (Gary) Braid 5 M (Manu) Maniapoto 6 AM (Alan) McNaughton 7 RJ (Richard) Conway 8 E (Eru) Beattie) 9 MP (Mark) Basham 10 RJ (Ron) Preston 11 PGA (Peter) Woods 12 WN (Bill) Gray 13 EJT (Eddie) Stokes 14 GE (Graeme) Moore 15 GD (Greg) Rowlands.


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