Richie’s rugby redemption


A man convicted of defrauding the organisers of Queenstown’s former national rugby sevens tournament has been selected to coach the Arrowtown Premiers rugby team.

Richie Anderson, 53, was endorsed as next season’s coach at the Arrowtown Rugby Club’s AGM last Thursday.

In 2012, the sevens tournament founder was sentenced to 10 months’ home detention and ordered to pay $48,601 in reparation after he admitted defrauding the Sevens with Altitude organising committee of $64,000.

Anderson was declared bankrupt last November after eventually paying reparation.

Club president Simon Spark accepts Anderson’s appointment won’t be popular in some quarters but says he was chosen because “his coaching CV’s second to none, probably, in club rugby”.

And “the committee said that, to a man, it’s time to move on”.

“Initially, there were probably one or two who were quite vocal and then over time that softened with the realisation that, well, how long do you bear a grudge?”

Anderson’s selection, Spark suggests, “should be viewed as part of a rehabilitation, if you like, or reintegration into mainstream community”.

“We have all made mistakes in our lives, and I’m no different, and it is nice to be accepted again as who you are.”

Spark says Anderson had not only successfully coached Arrowtown before, going back to 1999, but he also started its thriving junior division.

Through his role in getting Queenstown to host the sevens, Spark says he’d also allowed the club to build a war-chest from tournament proceeds which will be put toward’s the club’s new community clubrooms.

“We had a vigorous debate unlike any I’ve seen in my time as president because people wanted to be sure we were making the decision for the right reasons.”

Spark says only one other applicant, a South African, had applied but he couldn’t be sure when he’d arrive in town or how long he’d stay.

Anderson says he didn’t put his hand up to try to redeem himself.

“I just want to coach, that’s it.

“I want the [Arrowtown] Bulls to be rampant again, that’s my goal, I’m pretty passionate about Arrowtown.”

Anderson says he made up his mind to apply for the vacancy when watching the team blow a 19-8 semi-final lead against Alexandra last season, with just 10 minutes left on the clock.

Anderson admits he was delighted to be given the nod.

“The other crap which has happened is crap which has gone.”

Asked for his reaction to Anderson’s selection, former Sevens with Altitude chairman Clark Frew yesterday said he didn’t want to comment.

The sevens tournament ran in Queenstown for 10 years till 2013.