New CEO Tony Lewis back to where it began

STU PIDDINGTON
Last updated 05:00 18/07/2013

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Former Otago wing Tony Lewis has been named as the chief executive for the newly combined roles within South Canterbury rugby and cricket.

The former teacher comes to Timaru with an impressive CV in sports administration.

He is the executive officer for PaddleNSW, based in Sydney, but has previously had roles in both rugby and cricket including managing the contracted players for New South Wales Cricket and Cricket Australia for seven years.

The 51-year-old also had a stint as general manager of the Randwick District Rugby Union Football Club in Sydney.

Lewis said he applied for the South Canterbury job as he wanted to return to New Zealand and was keen to get involved in grassroots sport again.

"I guess it's really where I want to be."

The key to the new role was the engagement of the community in both codes, he said. "If you get your base right everything else tends to take care of itself."

Lewis said he believed he could balance the needs of both sports.

"I am keen to get started."

Because of the notice he had to give his employer he would not arrive in Timaru until early September, he said.

Lewis's appointment ended an eight-month search for the two codes.

Cricket and rugby decided by combining the role a top-class candidate was possible because the salary package was far more attractive.

Cricket already had a part-time chief executive role but rugby has been without one since the restructuring of the union's office in 2009. The two organisations will remain autonomous however, with Lewis reporting to both boards, as well as a joint committee to oversee and co-ordinate.

Cricket chairman Andrew McRae said that right from the outset the objective was to increase the profile of rugby and cricket in South Canterbury and to advance both sports in terms of professionalism and service delivery.

"The process has been a rigorous one and attracted a number of high quality applicants. I am delighted with the appointment of Tony in the role. Tony is a high calibre appointment and with his previous experience will add real value to both sports going forward.

"We are looking forward to working with him in order to help him achieve in the role."

Rugby chairman Brent Isbister said the South Canterbury Rugby Union is excited to be joining with South Canterbury Cricket Association to bring a well-respected administrator to the joint chief executive role.

"By joining together we have been able to attract a candidate that neither of us could have individually achieved."

Isbister said he was looking forward to working with Lewis, who is expected to start in his new role during September.

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Lewis played over 40 games for Otago and scored 25 tries in the 1980s before a leg injury cut his career short. He eventually found his way to London were he taught at a private school and coached London Scottish's top side with Ian McGeechan.

Lewis eventually returned to Christchurch before moving to Sydney.

After his two years with Randwick, president and former Rugby World Cup winning coach Bob Dwyer paid tribute to Lewis' passionate application and commitment to his role as general manager.

"He left the club well organised to face its future."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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