Game of two halves a life­long pas­sion

Most sports clubs have at least one per­son who forms the back­bone of their op­er­a­tion with­out ask­ing for recog­ni­tion. For the Teach­ers East­ern Rugby Club, that per­son is 86-year-old Dave Dal­gleish. He took Lau­ren Priestley for a walk down mem­ory lane. GOO

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEW W -

Not many peo­ple can boast al­most 80 years in one sport, but Dave Dal­gleish can.

The 86-year-old Green­lane grand­fa­ther started play­ing rugby when he was 8 years old.

He hung up his boots in his mid-20s but didn’t set­tle for a life on the side­lines.

He threw him­self into rugby man­age­ment and has been in­volved in the Auck­land Rugby Union, Pri­mary Schools Regional Rugby Union and Teach­ers East­ern Rugby Club ever since.

He is a life mem­ber of all three or­gan­i­sa­tions and was awarded a New Zealand Or­der of Merit for his ser­vices to rugby in 1997.

‘‘I just love the game. I en­joy the skills that are in­volved and I like the competitiveness. I’m still com­ing down to watch on week­ends.’’

Mr Dal­gleish has held al­most ev­ery ad­min­is­tra­tive po­si­tion at Teach­ers East­ern and is still in­volved, though on a smaller scale.

He’s a for­mer school prin­ci­pal and was once at the helm of Glen Innes Intermediate.

Along the way he has had some amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ences with New Zealand’s un­of­fi­cial national sport.

In the 1987 World Cup Mr Dal­gleish wit­nessed the his­tory-mak­ing first All Blacks vic­tory from his po­si­tion on the Auck­land Rugby me­dia com­mit­tee.

He says it’s the peo­ple that have made his ser­vice to rugby worth­while.

‘‘I’m not spe­cial. I do get on well with peo­ple and I just en­joy the sport. Most of the peo­ple of my vin­tage are no longer with us un­for­tu­nately.’’

He got in­volved with the Train­ing Col­lege Rugby Club in 1950 while study­ing to be­come a teacher.

Back then there

were plenty of male teach­ers-in­train­ing, which en­sured a con­stant sup­ply of play­ers.

‘‘The men are dis­ap­pear­ing now and it’s mainly women be­com­ing teach­ers.

‘‘Once there was an abun­dance of peo­ple play­ing at the club but there’s so many ac­tiv­i­ties now that peo­ple are not get­ting into rugby like they used to.’’

The Train­ing Col­lege club merged with East­ern in 1985, when Mr Dal­gleish was club cap­tain. He re­mained cap­tain of the new Teach­ers East­ern Rugby Club, based at Orakei Do­main, un­til 1990.

The amal­ga­mated club has strug­gled for num­bers in re­cent years and this year it was un­able to field a pre­mier team for the first time in its his­tory.

Man­age­ment are look­ing to merge with Gram­mar Carl­ton to fuel club num­bers and en­cour­age lo­cal play­ers to get in­volved, Mr Dal­gleish says.

For Gram­mar Carl­ton a merger would cre­ate room to ex­pand out­side of its Ep­som grounds.

The clubs have been talk­ing about a merger since 2011 but will fi­nalise the pos­si­bil­ity in a vote next month.

‘‘It’s good from our point of view, but it will also be good for Gram­mar Carl­ton. We don’t seem to be able to get play­ers from around here as much but hope­fully that can change. We’ve done it be­fore and it worked well.’’

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Old friends: Dave Dal­gleish has seen many play­ers come and go dur­ing a life­time ded­i­cated to rugby.

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