For 11-year-old Olly Hughes, rugby is more than just playing. He can be found on the sidelines of games even when his team has gone home, carrying water or waving a flag.
But the Hapuku School student does not aspire to be an All Black, he would just like to continue his involvement in the sport, perhaps in the field of coaching or managing.
Olly's interest in the game began years ago when his dad, a keen player himself, started taking him to local games.
He began playing at the age of seven and currently plays at prop or lock for the under-10 team (he signed up for the under-11s but says there was not enough interest to form a squad).
Olly took up the role of waterboy for the local under-16 team, coached by Willy Manuel, for a season. While there may not be much to the job, he says being waterboy gives him a good chance to learn the game from those who know it best, the players. Some of the senior team give him good advice, such as where to stand and he is beginning to read the game well.
Olly would like to learn to become a touch judge, and can be seen, flag in hand, working hard to make the right calls. He also has dreams to become a referee one day and hopes to begin this with the upcoming ripper rugby season.
It is not just the local matches Olly has been involved in - he has also notched up a few games as waterboy for Linwood and the Canterbury Girls' team in 2009 at St Bede's College, thanks to his uncle who had a family connection to the team.
The games he enjoys particularly are those with visiting international teams and he was lucky enough to waterboy for last week's Australia v Kaikoura match on Wednesday, his home side winning by close to 60 points. He was involved in the Argentina v Kaikoura seniors match a couple of years ago.
"Those are the ones I like because they are playing against people you don't really know. It makes it more interesting."
Olly has hopes of one day becoming the Kaikoura Rugby Club chairman and is avidly trying to muster up more support for the Kaikoura side wherever he can.
"I would like to get more teams from around New Zealand playing here, get upgraded stands and stuff, and more sponsors for the team."
And Olly is well on his way to achieving greater publicity for his team, having set up a facebook page (Kaikoura Rugby) for the club where he posts the draw, results, photos and other useful information for supporters such as details of transport available to games outside the district. He hopes to encourage many more people to "like" the page and welcomes photos from other sources too.
So for now Olly has his work cut out playing rugby, promoting the team, encouraging supporters and running water.
But watch this space and we may see him climb the rungs in years to come to become a coach at JAB level and beyond.
In the meantime, he has one message for all the readers out there - "just keep liking the page!"
- © Fairfax NZ News
Is government doing enough to protect the marine environment?Related story: (See story)