Event draws former players
The stage is set for a huge weekend at Lansdowne Park.
Not only do the Tasman Makos face big brother Canterbury in round two of the 2013 NPC, two special occasions are being celebrated by Marlborough rugby.
This month marks the 125th anniversary of the Marlborough Rugby Union, now the Marlborough Rugby Sub Union, as well as the 40th anniversary of the Marlborough Red Devils' famous 1973 Ranfurly Shield victory over Canterbury in Christchurch.
A large marquee has been erected at the home of Marlborough rugby, behind the Jim Fraser Centre, and the weekend of celebrations kicks off there tomorrow night with a sit-down dinner.
On Saturday, a pre-match luncheon is being held before the Tasman v Canterbury clash, which starts at 2.35pm. The official after-match function will also be held in the marquee, with the All Blacks v Wallabies test match in Wellington screened live on a large projector screen. There is a casual wind-up function on Sunday at the Royal Hotel from noon.
The spokesman for the weekend's organising committee, former Marlborough halfback and former Marlborough Rugby Union chairman Peter Baker, said it was looking forward to a successful event.
" . . . we just want the weather to be kind . . . we are looking at around 350 at the dinner [tomorrow] night, which is a splendid result, and we are looking at near on 800 for the luncheon on Saturday, so it's been a pretty good response."
All Blacks legend Bryan Williams is the guest speaker for tomorrow night's event, while New Zealand running great Dick Tayler, who trained with the Marlborough side on his way to gold in the 10,000m at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, is guest speaker for Saturday's luncheon. Baker said many ex-Marlborough players were coming to the province for the weekend, highlighted by the return from South Africa of Alan Sutherland, Marlborough's most capped All Black.
"We've got old Red Devils from all over the place, it's quite incredible really, the distance they're travelling.
"Obviously Alan [Sutherland] is coming back from South Africa, there's quite a few coming from Australia and we've got people coming from Auckland, Waikato, Hawke's Bay, Dunedin, you name it. Overall, it's been a wonderful response."
Apart from the late Jim Joseph, all bar one of the successful 1973 Marlborough shield side are expected to be in attendance for the weekend's festivities.
Adding to the festive air, the Makos will play wearing special commemorative scarlet red (Marlborough colours) jerseys. After the game, those jerseys will be signed by a member of the 1973 Marlborough team and sold by silent auction at the after-match function.
The idea to do something special for the Makos v Canterbury clash was sparked by Marlborough Rugby Sub Union life member and patron Ewen Robinson. Along with Robinson and Baker, the organising committee has comprised Marlborough rugby stalwarts Mark Peters, Graeme Taylor and Ramon Sutherland, plus Marlborough rugby administrators Jo Young and Gareth Waldron.
Entry to tomorrow night's dinner is open from 7, with guests seated for dinner at 7.30. Saturday's luncheon gets underway at noon, with the official after-match beginning at 4.15pm straight after the Makos game.
While Saturday's luncheon is a sellout, Baker said there were still two tables available for tomorrow night's dinner if anyone was interested in snapping them up. Those wanting more information can contact the Marlborough Rugby Sub Union office on 578 4070 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Marlborough Express