Rugby club’s humble origins

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On the eve of its 30th jubilee, the Arrowtown Rugby Club has plenty to celebrate – not least the fact it’s at long last got its own clubrooms. Philip Chandler delves into its humble beginnings by talking to some early stalwarts

It didn’t start too promisingly.

When the Arrowtown Rugby Club re-formed in 1989, having recessed in 1952, it struggled to field a team, got regularly flogged and didn’t even have the whole town behind it.

Pre-’89, Arrowtown played an annual triangular tournament with Queenstown and Glenorchy with a team picked out of the New Orleans pub.

Then-manager Warren Jones – who became a long-time player and president for the fledgling club – says that riled the other pub, the Royal Oak, which hosted a meeting to revive the club itself.

Like many others, Gordon Murphy – who became a playing stalwart, despite then being 44, and coach – thought Arrowtown should have stuck with the Queenstown-based Wakatipu Rugby Club a bit longer “because I didn’t think there was a show of getting a full team”.

There’d been fears Arrowtown would have to poach Wakatipu players, but when it beat their senior reserves 9-4, in its first outing, only Jones had played before for the Queenstown club.

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