Big test for leg­end

Central Leader - - Front Page - By Scott Mor­gan

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.

Wil­liams ex­pects

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.”

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

New role: For­mer All Black and Pon­sonby di­rec­tor of rugby Bryan Wil­liams was re­cently elected as vice-pres­i­dent of the New Zealand Rugby Union.

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