Rugby’s a joy, not a chore


Don’t give ex-Highlander Kelvin Middleton the old cliche that he’s helping Wakatipu rugby this season “to give something back to the club”.

“I don’t think that’s right – you do it for the enjoyment, otherwise, hey, don’t do it.”

Middleton, who had 10 years playing professional rugby, the past two in Japan, began his role last week as technical advisor to Premiers’ coach Lindsay Thomas and assistant Clark Frew.

“I’m basically at their service to be running anything they want, though I stay away from the pretty boys out the back,” the former loose forward says.

The born-and-bred Queenstowner recalls watching his elder brothers Murray and Steven playing for Wakatipu, though ironically he never had a game himself.

“Our Wakatipu High team ended up playing in the junior grade so our arch-rivals were almost the Wakatipu juniors.”

The 34-year-old father of two says he’s in the dark over why the Premiers imploded last year.

“I actually only watched one game – hopefully a measure of the Wakatipu Rugby Club’s success is it will get people back to watching club rugby and going for a beer in the clubrooms afterwards.”

The Premiers had their first pre-season game last Saturday with a 38-0 away win over Ohai-Nightcaps – they’re off again to northern Southland this weekend to play Mossburn.

This game may be their last before they start the Central Otago competition with a “baptism of fire” – Frew’s words – against Upper Clutha, away, on March 28.

Meanwhile the Arrowtown Premiers started their pre-season last weekend with a 39-0 away drubbing of Southland team Waiau Star, and this Saturday they tackle Wyndham at home, starting at 2pm.

As defending Otago Countrywide champs, they’ve been invited the week after to play top Dunedin side Alhambra-Union, at Carisbrook, as a curtain-raiser to the Highlanders-Cheetahs Super 14 game.

“We’re pretty excited, but we’ll definitely be the underdogs,” says coach Blair Wilce, who’s pleading for frontrowers.

Arrowtown’s Central Otago season starts on March 28 with a home game against Matakanui.