Bush Rugby highlights on two boards which span the years starting from 1890-2019 were unveiled at a ceremony held at Bush Multi-Sports Stadium in Pahiatua on July 11.

Included on the boards are: Bush All Blacks trialists, club championship winners and Bush/Wairarapa Bush v international teams.

David Galvin has left room on the board for more entries from local international referee Rebecca Mahoney.
David Galvin has left room on the board for more entries from local international referee Rebecca Mahoney.

Life member of Wairarapa-Bush and former New Zealand Rugby Union member, David Galvin, gave a blow-by-blow account of games won or lost over the years to a packed gathering of former representatives, supporters and members of local rugby clubs from the past and Tararua District mayor Tracey Collis.

He started with Sonny Smith: "the most unique rugby player in our district and possibly New Zealand. He played for Bush from 1901-1923, playing in every forward position, five-eighths and on the wing. When made president of the local union in 1923 he was still playing. He retained the position until 1961 when he died. He was New Zealand Union president in 1936 and became a life member in 1949."

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Bush Rugby Union representatives in 1893.
Bush Rugby Union representatives in 1893.

Creditable performance

Possibly the greatest display by a Bush rugby team in the union's history came in 1964 against the touring Australians at Pahiatua. Reputations counted for nothing as the Bush boys hoed into their more illustrious opponents during a rampaging exhibition in the second half.

From 11 representative games that season before the international fixture, Bush had won only two, conceding 230 points while scoring 108, so pre-match predictions were not encouraging. Nor was the first half display, as Australia went to a 14-point lead that was increased to 19 soon after the break.

From that point, it was all Bush, as the team suddenly found inspiration. First fullback Ian McHardy joined a backline move for centre R. Elliott to send G. Humphrey away.

After a strong run, Humphrey - who was rated very highly by the Australians - kicked ahead and swerved around the fullback for a try which observers rated the best against the touring team in New Zealand. McHardy converted.

Five minutes later, the other winger - P. Brooks - scored a good try. When Elliot then crossed after hard running and clever deceptive play, and McHardy converted, the final scoreline of 19-13 was most creditable for Bush.

The following Saturday, Australia beat New Zealand 20-5 in the third test at Wellington.

Athol Mahoney

An All Black from 1929-1935, local Athol Mahoney toured Australia in 1929, played for North Island and in 1935 went on a major tour to the British Isles where he played in four tests - "a marvellous achievement," said David Galvin.

"He was a huge man in our day and he must have been huge in the 1930s."

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