Coach­ing great Tom McLay dies

Northern Outlook - - FRONT PAGE - KIM NUTBROWN

North Canterbury has lost one of its strong­est sport­ing iden­ti­ties.

Rus­sell Thomas McLay (Tom) passed away in hos­pi­tal last week sur­rounded by his fam­ily at the age of 87.

McLay made a huge con­tri­bu­tion to rugby with his ded­i­ca­tion to the sport span­ning some 60-years first as a player, then coach, se­lec­tor and ad­min­is­tra­tor.

McLay coached the Kowhai se­nior team in the mid 1970’s which amal­ga­mated to be­come the Ashley Rugby Club. He then moved on to be­come the North Canterbury se­nior rugby coach for eight years from 1972 to1980 be­fore tak­ing two years off and be­ing reap­pointed again from 1982 to 1986. McLay also coached Canterbury Coun­try from 1987 to 1989.

Dur­ing his time of coach­ing North Canterbury McLay coached some of the great­est All Blacks and Canterbury play­ers of that time. In­clud­ing Alex Wyl­lie, Doug Bruce, John Ash­worth, Graeme Hig­gin­son, Rob­bie and Bruce Deans, Richard Loe, Chris and Andy Earl, Don­ald Rennie and many oth­ers.

Over his 14 -year ca­reer as se­lec­tor and coach of North Canterbury A, they lost the cov­eted South­bridge Shield only twice to Ellesmere, his ‘‘great ri­val’’ as he called them.

McLay’s son David said a rugby high­light for his fa­ther was al­ways the fa­mous town ver­sus coun­try match which was played every year at Queen’s Birth­day Week­end.

‘‘It was es­sen­tially a Canterbury trial and it was big,’’ David McLay said. Tom McLay was a life mem­ber of the Ka­iapoi Rugby Club and the North Canterbury Sub Union.

Con­tin­ued on Page 3.


Tom McLay (front, 2nd from end) coached the North Canterbury A Rep team in 1977 which in­cluded a num­ber of All Black greats.

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