The family of a former Hawke's Bay Magpie player who was one of two men who died after a Queen's Birthday Weekend crash in Wairarapa say his legacy will live on in Otane where he first started playing senior rugby as a teenager.
Takapau freezing worker and rugby player Roger Barry James Chappell, 42, died in the crash and retired Mangamaire storekeeper Eric Frank Bird, 77, died in Wellington Hospital, both as a result of the late-morning Sunday head-on crash on State Highway 2 at Mt Bruce, between Eketahuna and Masterton.
A woman and her young baby injured in the crash were airlifted to Palmerston North Hospital. The woman was yesterday said to be in a stable condition and the baby was transferred to Starship Hospital in Auckland.
Roger Chappell, who had been living in Dannevirke, scored more than 100 points in first class rugby, despite playing fewer than 20 games spanning a decade at that level from 1995 to 2004.
It included playing second-string first five-eighths to Samoan international and 1994 All Black Steve Bachop in the Hawke's Bay-Manawatu Central Vikings in 1997-1998.
Mr Chappell's cousin, Russell Kupa, said a lot of people looked up to Mr Chappell, including himself.
"His legacy within the village here will carry on."
"He was someone that really had done quite a lot in his career but also still had that potential to have done even more," Mr Kupa said.
Mr Chappell's sister, Vikki Graham, said he was the oldest son of Allan and Evelyn Chappell and was a partner to Jessica Karaitiana.
He had two daughters, Leara and Alani-Faith.
"Roger was a real family man who adored his partner and girls. They were his everything."
She said her brother loved loved all sports "but his passion was rugby".
"He was a very talented player and started playing for Otane 1st Division when he left school in 1990."
She said after a few years he went on to play for several clubs including Celtic, Hastings Rugby and Sports, Napier Tech, Taradale, Wairoa Athletic - just to name a few.
"He then made representative honours for Central Vikings, Hawke's Bay Magpies, East Coast and Central Sub Union."
Hawke's Bay Rugby Union CEO, Mike Bishop, said Mr Chappell played for an extended number of years for a number of different clubs.
"He was just one of those guys that just loved the game."
Mr Chappell attended Te Aute College from 1987-1990 before finishing his senior year at Central Hawke's Bay College.
A funeral service will be held at Pukehou Marae tomorrow at 11am.
Meanwhile, friends of Mr Bird, of Pahiatua, are saying the Tararua district has lost an indoor bowling stalwart.
"He was a friend of everybody and well known to everyone," a fellow indoor bowler said.
A past president of the Bush Ruahine Indoor Bowling Club, Mr Bird was an active committee member.
"He was a gentleman and always fun to be with," Dannevirke's John Johnson said. "He was a real nice guy who even carried out maintenance on our centre building in Pahiatua over the years."
Mr Johnson said Monday night bowls at the Dannevirke Sports Centre was a sombre affair as people came to terms with his death.
Mr Bird and his wife Jan were well-known throughout the Tararua as the owners of the century-old Mangamaire Store, one of the few country stores in the district, before they closed the doors in 2003.