Wrights Bush bucks the trend

03:34, Dec 17 2013
Paul Nicholson
DEDICATED: Wrights Bush’s Paul Nicholson is a Legend of Sport.

They don't come much more committed than Paul Nicholson. Logan Savory explains just how much he does for the Wrights Bush Rugby Club and why he is this week's Legend of Sport.

Wrights Bush – it's a small rural settlement about 20 minutes from Invercargill that doesn't even boast a pub.

A couple of years back it didn't have a senior rugby team either despite once having a team which included legendary Southland All Black Leicester Rutledge.

However, life has been breathed back into the small club.

After a 15-year absence they now have a senior team competing in Southland's division two rugby competition and the small town has regained a sense of pride.

Each week at their home games many people are on the sidelines to cheer on their boys as part of the Wrights Bush revival.


Many key people have been involved in the rebirth of Wrights Bush rugby but the major hand has been dealt by Paul Nicholson.

In a climate where player numbers are dwindling in many sports, Wrights Bush has bucked the trend to get a team back up and running and Nicholson's role cannot be underestimated.

His enthusiasm and quiet dedication behind the scenes is something to marvel at.

A list of tasks he undertakes paints the picture as to just why this guy is a Legend of Sport.

Nicholson organises working bees, which includes spreading dirt on the practice ground. He co-ordinates fundraisers, including cutting and splitting firewood, sorting potatoes, pulling turnips and tailing lambs.

He sources sponsorship, which helps pay for playing kit, aftermatch dress shirts, new pads for the goalposts and the rebuilt clock tower at the home ground.

On game day he mows the field and marks it when needed, and if he can't, he ensures someone can take on the task. He also arrives early to make sure the canteen is stoked up for the day.

When the boys arrive on game day he has their kit laid out neatly and then during the game he completes the usual tasks such as ensuring the water is sorted for the players.

His job does not stop at the final whistle.

Nicholson tidies up the ground and then heads to help organise the bar for the aftermatch festivities.

The next day he returns to the clubrooms to clean them up from the previous night's celebrations.

His association with Wrights Bush started 18 years ago when he took along his eldest son to join up with the junior ranks.

Nicholson quickly became involved with helping with the organisation and ended up as the club's schoolboy convenor.

From there he become club president and now he's the manager of the senior team.

Nicholson says he has a love for the sport and for Wrights Bush, and he says it is just a matter of getting on and doing it.

"I enjoy it, you've got to get in yourself and do things. The boys and that, they don't really get involved in the club that much, so someone's got to be there to do it," he said.

Being able to look at where Wrights Bush is now is something Nicholson can be proud of.

"She's a tough road being a country club, but all things have come on. This year it's got better – we've got 24 sponsors on board, it's been real good."

The Southland Times