A huge effort went into organising last week's celebration of the Mangonui Rugby Union's centennial, but union chairman Marty Yuretich was a little nervous when he went to bed on Friday night.
The celebration had already begun with a well-attended gathering at the Awanui Hotel, and all the signs were that Saturday would be a fitting acknowledgement of the milestone, but the weather over the preceding days had not been encouraging.
That all changed on Saturday.
"When I woke up and saw the sun shining I knew everything was going to go well," Yuretich said.
"And it did. What a weekend. We couldn't have asked for more."
Three matches were played at Arnold Rae Park, starting with 7s, Mangonui Wahine, a mix of Te Rarawa and Hokianga players, beating Pirates Wahine 55-0, followed by Mangonui vs Bay of Islands, Mangonui winning 41-20, and a NPC pre-season clash, Northland vs North Harbour, won by Harbour 43-17.
The weekend concluded with a centennial dinner at Te Ahu, where those who had played earlier in the day made the traditional speeches, Northland Rugby CEO Cameron Bell paid tribute to Mangonui, and looked forward to the further strengthening of the game, particularly women's rugby, in the Far North and Northland, and Yuretich thanked those who had been involved in organising the celebration and those who attended.
The highlight of the evening was the presentation of life membership of the union to one-time Northland Age sport reporter and photographer Ted Bagshaw, who was there with his wife Dawn and daughter Sharon.
Mate Radich, who made the presentation, said the Bagshaws had arrived in the Far North in 1974. They bought a dairy at Awanui, but Ted subsequently joined the Northland Age (as a linotype operator), where he would remain until he retired in 1995.
He had covered all manner of sports, from cricket to bowls, but rugby had been his passion, his coverage of the game, JMB in the morning, seniors in the afternoon, contributing to many players being selected for provincial teams.
He had also played a major role in luring St Stephen's to Kaitaia in 1985, shortly after it had won the world secondary school championship in Wales. The Aucklanders arrived in three buses, confident of demolishing the Kaitaia College 1st XV, but drew 12-all in front of a crowd of 4000.
"We beat them the following year, all thanks to Ted," he said.
He had been followed at the Age by a number of sport reporters, including Rachel Vinac and finally Frank Malley, all of whom had done a good job, but he had set the benchmark. Ted then made what might well have been the shortest acceptance speech of all time, thanking the organisers for the invitation, saying he was a writer, not a talker, and wishing the union well for the future.