Larger-than-life Onslow great featured in notable matches at Athletic Park

Stan Judd
Stan Judd

Stanley Walter David (Stan) Judd, rugby and bowling stalwart:

b Wellington, July 13, 1919;

m 1940 Zoe Gordon (dec), 2s, 1d;

d Tauranga, May 2, 2011, aged 91.

Stan Judd's rugby prowess meant he was a household name in Wellington in the 1950s, and he was a major contributor to sporting and business life in the Onslow district.

The Onslow Rugby Club hooker played for coach Clarrie Gibbons' 1953 Wellington Ranfurly Shield- winning team which successfully defended the shield on Athletic Park that year in five matches.

So highly regarded was Mr Judd by his fellow Wellington rugby squad members, he was entrusted with looking after the Log of Wood for a period during the seven weeks it was in Wellington in 1953.

He displayed it proudly from a window of his Mysore St home (strategically located over the road from Onslow Rugby club headquarters at Nairnville Park) in Ngaio, Khandallah.

These were great Wellington Ranfurly Shield rugby days which ended on September 19, 1953, when Bob Stuart's Canterbury team dissected Mr Judd and his team- mates 24-3 in front of a crowd of 40,000 people at Athletic Park.

Two years later, the Onslow stalwart was back at the park, on July 30, 1955, in a match described by veteran rugby writer Alex Veysey as one of the greatest games of club rugby ever seen at the Rintoul St ground.

Coach Lin Thomas' Onslow side (with first five-eighth Jackie Dougan controversially among its ranks following his early-season transfer from Petone) won this match 15-14 against Petone. Onslow went on to win the Jubilee Cup in 1955 for the first time in the club's history.

In the Wellington teams he played for - flanked by his prop forward mates Cardy Williams and Ivan Vodanovich - Mr Judd was a larger-than-life character.

He was a very fine hooker who was rarely if ever outhooked. Hooking in Mr Judd's day was a highly competitive business. At the end of games hookers knew exactly how many "tightheads" they had taken but frequently had no idea what the final score was.

Mr Judd, who saw active service in World War II with the Royal New Zealand Navy, was 37 when he finally retired as a club rugby player in Wellington in 1956.

It was typical of him that in 1955, while a player in the Jubilee Cup winning team, he also performed the role of assistant club captain alongside club captain Sir Ralph Love.

Onslow ruled the rugby roost in those days, and their administration included former New Zealand Rugby Football Union chairman Cuth Hogg, All Black selection panel convenor Tom Morrison, Sir Ralph and Mr Judd.

For the final seven years of his rugby playing career Mr Judd's official programme age remained constant at 29.

Off the field, Mr Judd was an equally enterprising character. He was a constant purveyor of unofficial grassroots rugby advice to the former Onslow Club's three NZRFU chairmen - Mr Hogg, Mr Morrison and Eddie Tonks.

He was born into a Salvation Army family in the Wellington suburb of Te Aro and went to Clyde Quay school - where he was known as the "Clyde Quay water rat" because he loved water - and Wellington Technical College. After his WWII naval service he carved out a career for himself as a salesman extraordinaire.

The highlight of his selling career was the decade he spent working as a salesman for Reginald Collins wine and spirit merchants in Wellington's Ballance St. The liquor industry suited his gregarious born-salesman personality. He retired from Reginald Collins in 1980.

In the early years of retirement he and his wife, Zoe, were able to focus their leisure attention on the Wilton Bowling Club.

He also owned and operated the icecream and confectionary business in Wellington's Opera House from 1955 to 1957, before he went on to purchase the Colway St Dairy in Ngaio.

Ownership of the Opera House business during the final years of his rugby career proved a big fillip to his sporting fitness.

The storeroom for the business was up in "The Gods" (the top tier of seating in the Opera House) and Mr Judd made a point of running up and down the stairs to restock supplies for his ground-floor business.

He and Zoe were popular figures in the Colway St Dairy. Everyone knew them in Ngaio and they were an integral part of the local community.

While representing the Wilton Club at a fixture at the Johnsonville Bowling Club, Zoe Judd collapsed. She died in Wellington Hospital soon afterwards, aged 62.

Following his wife's death Mr Judd moved to Tauranga, where he was an active member of the Returned Services Association.

When he celebrated his 90th birthday, in the company of his partner for the last nine years, Pat Bedford, former Onslow Club team-mates were on hand to remember the glory days.

They presented him with a new No 14 red and green hooped jersey.

Onslow's favourite Jubilee Cup winning son from the golden winter of 1955 wore the jersey proudly for the final 22 months of his life.


Sources: Wendy Francis, George Blair, Eddie Tonks, Kevin Torbit and Bruce Heather.

The Dominion Post