Big test for legend
HE’S ONE of the All Blacks’ greatest wingers and has coached at the top level.
Now Bryan Williams has taken on a new role.
The Ponsonby club president and director of rugby was last month voted the New Zealand Rugby Union’s vice-president for a two-year term.
Tradition suggests Williams would most likely take over from current president John Sturgeon before the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Williams was “totally taken aback” when he found out the Auckland union would nominate him for the role.
“Once I thought about it and asked my wife, I thought why not?
“It’s a great honour that’s a reflection of what Ponsonby and Auckland have done for me.”
The Coxs Bay resident believes his connection to grassroots rugby, through Ponsonby and an academy he runs at Mt Albert Grammar, played a part in securing the post.
But his new role doesn’t mean he’ll be giving up his job at the club he first played for in 1960.
“Ponsonby is deep in my soul,” he says.
there will be plenty of matches and meetings to attend as vice-president.
While the former Manu Samoa coach doesn’t vote at the monthly board meetings, the president and vicepresident do have speaking rights.
And with the world cup on the horizon, the 58-year-old knows the role takes on extra significance.
“The fact we’re able to host the cup for a second time is something great for New Zealand. Obviously as a representative there, I’ll be trying to do the job well.”
Williams admits the game has some things to work out before then.
“There are a lot of issues facing rugby at the moment, including the laws, competitions and dwindling crowds.
“Those three things go hand in hand.
“If you get a meaningful competition it attracts the crowds.”
Auckland union chairman Ken Baguley says it wasn’t a hard choice to nominate Williams.
“When you look at it he’s got an incredibly impressive record that covers a lifetime of commitment to rugby at all levels.”
Baguley says Williams would be the ideal man to be president in 2011 for the world cup.
“You need to get someone who is internationally recognised.
“Bryan would be up there with Colin Meads and some of our other great players of the past.”
Williams played 113 matches for the All Blacks, including 38 tests, scoring 398 points.
He was co-coach of the Auckland side from 1987 to 1991 and assistant Hurricanes coach between 2000 and 2001.
Both of Williams’ sons have followed in his footsteps, with Gavin playing rugby in France, and Paul in the Blues Super 14 squad. Two high school robotics teams have put themselves into voluntary isolation after returning from the United States earlier this week.
The teams from Onehunga High School and Avondale College returned from an international robotics compeition in Dallas, Texas, on Tuesday.
Onehunga High School deputy principal Tom Webb travelled with the team and says they were about to depart as news was breaking about the swine flu virus.
“We immediately contacted Auckland Regional Health for advice. They didn’t recommend we not travel and gave us plenty of precautionary tips.”
On their return one student developed a sore throat and has since been tested for Influenza A.
The results are expected today.
Principal Deidre O’Shea says she expects students back on Monday.
“It’s absolutely precautionary, no one at school is at risk,” she says.
Avondale College principal Brent Lewis says health authorities advised the school a student was in quarantine.
“As a result of the information and in consultation with the staff concerned we agreed to a voluntary quarantine,” he says.
The swine flu outbreak has also had an impact on students who haven’t even been overseas.
Twenty Pasadena Intermediate School students have had a twoweek exchange to its sister school in Japan cancelled.
“Worldwide there’s major kneejerk reactions in densely populated countries like Japan,” says principal Tony Walsh.
“We considered our options and we don’t want to risk the possibility of not being welcome.”
New role: Former All Black and Ponsonby director of rugby Bryan Williams was recently elected as vice-president of the New Zealand Rugby Union.