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Merivale Papanui Celebrate 130 Years in Style
Merivale Papanui celebrated 130 years of rugby last weekend on its club day. It is thought the club is the second oldest in the province.
The club actually began on 12 May 1882, although the club thought that it was appropriate to celebrate its 130th anniversary on its club day later in the year.
The club has had a number of name changes down the years. The club was the strongest in the north western area of Christchurch for most of its history and it has produced a number of All Blacks, including one of the best All Blacks of all time, Charlie Oliver, and most recently Greg Sommerville and Campbell Johnstone.
Yet the most recent chapter in the club’s history is perhaps the most interesting and important. On the brink of extinction a few years ago, the club has slowly built its way back to be one of the most respected in Metro rugby.
Now the club has nine junior teams, 11 per cent growth this year, a proactive and dedicated committee and a real commitment to restore some of its former glory.
Led by president Matt Hinman, Merivale Papanui has taken a proactive approach in recognising its players, developing strategic relationships with local primary schools and Papanui High School and obtaining sponsors.
Last Saturday the club had all of its teams playing at home, followed by its usual prize giving at the Papanui club and then an old-timers function where the club’s former players and administrators got together.
“It was a brilliant day,” Matt says. “We had lots of our old boys come along and they helped make it special. They are delighted we are getting the club back up and running.”
Matt says the focus for the club is on developing a strong club ethos. “It’s not just about giving, it’s about taking something out of giving,” he says. “We make sure that those who work hard for the club are appreciated.”
Matt says at this stage the club’s goal is to enter a colts team. After that it may eventually be possible for the club to field a senior side. Right now it is one thing at a time. “The club could have folded but we are trying to write an exciting new chapter in the club’s history,” he says.
Merivale Papanui All Blacks: Alfred Cooke, Frank Brooker, Walter Drake, Reuben Cooke, George Gillett, William Fuller, William Mitchell, Edward Hasell, William Ford, Charlie Oliver, John Hooper, Greg Sommerville, Campbell Johnstone.
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