Sid Tatana (left) accepting his Volunteer of the Year award from New Zealand Rugby president Maurice Trapp. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

JAKE BELESKI

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Volunteers are the heart and soul of any sport, and Sid Tatana has been recognised as a major part of the foundations that hold up rugby in Wairarapa.

Tatana was the recipient of the Charles Monro Volunteer of the Year award at Thursday night’s ASB New Zealand Rugby Awards in Auckland.

The 76-year-old has dedicated the last four decades of his life to coaching in Wairarapa, helping out with club school and representative teams.

That in itself is a remarkable achievement, but when you learn he makes a round trip of about three hours to get to his teams’ trainings, you realise what a special contribution he has made to rugby in the region.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Tatana said it was easy to do because he “just loves it”.

“You just go and do it and you don’t look at any obstacles or any problems — if you want to do it nothing will stop you.

“It’s the same if you want to be an All Black — you have a target and if you want it you have to do whatever it takes.”

Tatana’s first passion was rugby league, but he quickly converted to rugby union when he moved to Wairarapa.

He lives in the southern most part of Wairarapa, and has coached teams across the entire region.

That included coaching a dominant Eketahuna women’s team from 2009-2012, and he said the travel wasn’t an issue because the girls were so committed.

“I used to travel from here to Masterton, and then catch the van up to Eketahuna, and then do the reverse back.

“I don’t know how many kilometres it was but I didn’t worry about that — of all the teams I coached I think they were probably the best, in the sense of commitment.”

He said you could sit and home and think about doing it and nothing would happen, but it had been a “pleasure” for him to be involved in the game for so long.

“I’m 76 now but I reckon I’ve got another four years in me yet.”

Wairarapa Bush chief executive officer Tony Hargood was at the event, and said it was great to see Tatana representing Wairarapa on a national stage.

“Forty years is pretty special in anyone’s book.

“It was great to be in the crowd when it was announced, and it’s a real credit to Sid and his family and the hard work he has put in.”

Sam Whitelock picked up Player of the Year award, while the Black Ferns were named Team of the Year after their World Cup triumph.

2017 ASB Rugby Awards winners

Fan’s Try of the Year: Portia Woodman (Black Ferns)

NZRPA Kirk Award: DJ Forbes

Volunteer of the Year: Sid Tatana (Wairarapa Bush)

Referee of the Year: Ben O’Keeffe (Wellington)

Age Grade Player of the Year: Asafo Aumua (Wellington)

Heartland Championship Player of the Year: Scott Cameron (Horowhenua Kapiti)

All Blacks Sevens Player of the Year: DJ Forbes (Counties Manukau)

Black Ferns Sevens Player of the Year: Ruby Tui (Canterbury)

Duane Monkley Medal: Jack Goodhue (Northland)

Fiao’o Fa’amausili Medal: Hazel Tubic (Counties Manukau)

Super Rugby Player of the Year: Sam Whitelock (Crusaders)

Maori Player of the Year: Rieko Ioane (Ngapuhi / Te Whanau a Apanui)

Outstanding Contribution to New Zealand Rugby: Wayne Smith

Coach of the Year: Glenn Moore (Black Ferns)

Women’s Player of the Year: Sarah Goss (Manawatu)

Player of the Year: Sam Whitelock

Team of the Year: Black Ferns