Book of rugby memories over 125 years

South Canterbury rugby historian Jeremy Sutherland is determined the book released to celebrate the union's 125th celebrations will be even better than its predecessor.

Sutherland has spent the past two years updating and refreshing Men In All Weather - 100 years of South Canterbury Rugby.

It's not that Sutherland has a problem with what authors Rex Bowden and Lindsay Nixon did with the first one to celebrate the union's centennial, it's just that he has had far more resources available and hopes to give the book a bit more life with first-hand accounts and more photographs.

"It is really about expanding it and it is surprising what you can find on the internet about the early days around South Canterbury rugby and the links of the game back to England."

Sutherland has searched all the old boxes hidden away at the union's headquarters and gone through the Timaru Herald's photographs. He has also approached a number of key players and administrators for their thoughts and is even looking at the impact Super Rugby has had in Timaru.

"It is really about involving everyone," he said.

Sutherland would still like to hear from anyone who has old South Canterbury photographs, programmes or memorabilia.

"It's just about getting as much information as we can and catching up on some of those old memories. Also I am keen for it to be as accurate as possible."

Another big task has been putting first names to the initials in the book, especially those players in the 1920s and 1930s.

Sutherland said he had sent lists out to the clubs.

"Bob O'Connor from Celtic was amazing - he knew everyone but two from 1906 until today. I guess that's one advantage of being around for 90 years."

The rugby historian has a huge knowledge and helped establish the Hamersley Cup for senior clubs. The cup recognises the man who helped introduce the game to South Canterbury.

The celebrations will take place on Queen's Birthday weekend next year. The organising committee is busy locating former players, coaches, staff, referees and administrators.

Anyone interested in attending who does not receive a registration form in a fortnight can contact the union's office.

The Timaru Herald