Former All Black Kees Meeuws’ pig-hunting prowess has turned into big dollars for a new Otago Rugby Southern Lakes Scholarship programme.
At a fundraising auction at Queenstown’s Botswana Butchery restaurant on Wednesday night, $13,000 was bid for pig hunting expeditions with the veteran Otago prop.
Mike Davies bid $8000 for one adventure and Good Group director Matt Paterson $5000 for another.
Altogether, more than $30,000 was raised, mostly from rugby memorabilia – Queenstowner Sir Eion Edgar, vice-president of the Otago Rugby Football Union, successfully bid $1800 for a corporate box at Carisbrook for the Otago v Canterbury game on October 2.
An anonymous punter will pass over $10,000 if Otago beat Northland this Sunday, or $2500 if they lose by no more than five points.
Among guests were Otago coach Phil Mooney and his assistant David Mooney, captain Alando Soakai, Otago’s All Blacks Adam Thomson and Ben Smith who are in the New Zealand sevens team competing in the Commonwealth Games in India next month and ORFU chairman Wayne Graham.
The scholarship programme is the brainchild of former ORFU boss, Queenstown businessman Russell Gray. His aim had been to raise $40,000 in year one.
The six successful school leaver-age rugby scholars will receive $5000 per year for two years to go towards their education fees, coaching, Dunedin accommodation, travel, clothing and footwear.
The scholars will be chosen each year by locals Rob Ffiske, Simon Spark and Kelvin Collins with help from ORFU rugby academy manager Tim Colling, Mooney and Latta.
ORFU commercial manager Mike Kerr says the idea of the programme is to identify, develop and retain home-grown talent for the future success of Otago rugby.