Rugby community loses dedicated servant

One of the gentlemen of the South Canterbury Rugby Referees' Association, Norm Dickson, has passed away aged 88.

For his services to rugby over many years Dickson was also a life member of the South Canterbury Rugby Union.

Up until this season when he became unwell Dickson was still a regular at both club and representative rugby, sitting with the referees in the grandstand.

Fellow former referee Brian Dore said Dickson was an institution.

"He was always interested most in the young lower grade or up-and-coming referees and followed their progress closely.

"Norm also knew everyone; his favourite saying was ‘someone was a son or daughter of a former school pupil of his'."

Dore said that over the years Dickson put a huge amount of time into the administration and support of referees and was a popular figure.

"He used to go to the games with the late Tom Rooney and they became known as ‘Tom and Jerry' as they were always having a laugh."

Dore said one of Dickson's biggest achievements was packing 4000 school children, including 85 girls, on the ground inside the fence when South Canterbury beat France in 1961. "It took a massive effort to get them all in there back then."

Born in Port Chalmers in 1924, Dickson was educated King's High School and then qualified as a teacher.

He was involved with the defence of Otago Harbour before joining the Royal New Zealand Air Force. Posted to Raetihi, Dickson played rugby for King Country from 1947 to to 1949 in the midfield and occasionally at first five-eighth.

He also married the love of his life Jean in 1949 and had four sons, Bruce, Alan, Noel and Murray.

One of his favourite memories was playing for King Country against Auckland at Eden Park, a side that boasted Bob Scott among its ranks, and also enjoyed lowering Ron Elvidge in a bone crunching tackle. Dickson used to joke he weighed nine stone wringing wet. in his playing days.

He then went on to teach in Invercargill before arriving in Timaru in 1952 to take a job at Waimataitai School,

Dickson moved 12 years later to Timaru South School as deputy principal and retired in 1982.

Once in South Canterbury he was an active referee from 1967 to 1974 before becoming involved in rugby administration.

He also had two stints on the South Canterbury Rugby Union board, the first for eight years as the primary schools' delegate and then 15 years later as the referees' delegate.

Dickson was also made the union president for two years in 1993 to 1994 and later was honoured with life membership.

He was also actively involved in an number of other sports organisations including the West End and Timaru cricket clubs and was a member of the Kia Toa Bowling Club for 28 years.

Never one to let a side down, Dickson played his last senior game as a fill-in at the age of 51.

He was also involved with Saint Pauls Church, Friends of Timaru Hospital and the Air Force Association along with several other community organisations.

Dickson's funeral is today at 2pm at the Aoraki Funeral Home.

South Canterbury