Craig Innes and Bernie McCahill [right] make a tackle during the 1991 Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Canada in Lille, France. McCahill will be guest of honour at Masterton Marist Rugby Club’s 75th Jubilee. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

RUGBY

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

The Masterton Marist Rugby Club’s 75th Jubilee will go ahead next month.

The celebrations were originally planned to be held from May 8-10 but were postponed because of the covid-19 lockdown. The club will now hold the event from Friday, July 31 to Sunday, August 2.

Jubilee committee spokesman Dave Cameron said there had been discussions about delaying until 2021 if club rugby had not gone ahead.

“We decided to have the jubilee this year because there is club rugby and junior rugby, and we wanted to celebrate it within the right year,” he said.

The celebrations will include a dinner on Friday night, with former All Black Bernie McCahill, who played 10 tests from 1987 to 1991, and was a stalwart of Auckland’s great Ranfurly Shield era of 61 defences from 1985 to 1993.

Cameron was also hopeful that former Maori All Black, Hurricanes and Blues Super Rugby player Shannon Paku would be present for the jubilee.

James Goodger is one of Marist’s three New Zealand Heartland XV representatives. PHOTO/FILE

Paku played junior rugby for the club and played senior rugby alongside his father Lee. He was on the bench as a 17-year-old, when Marist won the 1997 premier championship, their first in 40 years.

Paku is the CEO of Manawatu Rugby.

On Saturday, there will be a luncheon followed by home games featuring the club’s premier and senior reserve teams. The main game will feature the premier side and the defending Tui Cup champions Martinborough. That will be followed by an auction of memorabilia and numbered jubilee jerseys.

The foundation of the club came at the end of World War II and was a reaction to getting rugby established at St Joseph’s College [now Chanel College], under the administration of Jim Eastwood, Martin Gleeson, Mick O’Reilly, and Brother Gerrard.

Marist made a promising start and won titles in 1954 and 1957, before entering a slump in the 1960s when they only had juniors and third grade sides. The club returned to Senior B in 1969 and regained senior status in 1986, under the coaching of Cameron.

The opening of the new clubrooms in 1992 and the establishment of the Marist Rugby and Sports Association, with the inclusion of football, cricket, hockey, netball, and touch heralded in a new era.

Marist went on to dominate premier rugby in the late 90s, winning titles in 1997, 1998 [shared with Pioneer], and 1999, as well as 2002, the last year they lifted the premier trophy.

Wairarapa-Bush’s record point scorer Patrick Harding-Rimene, with 561 points from 70 games, Nathan Riwai-Couch, and James Goodger have all represented the New Zealand Heartland XV from the club, while Clark Baker earned an All Black trial in the 1950s.

  • Registrations for the Marist 75th can be made at www.maristrugby.org.nz and the follow the links to Masterton Marist and Jubilee.