The rugby coach accused of sexually assaulting two young players has been described by those who know him has having an "old school" style of coaching that demanded respect on and off the field.

Desmond John McGrath, 62, is on trial at the Auckland District Court, before a jury, where the defence finished giving evidence this morning.

The Crown alleges McGrath used his position as coach at a rugby club, which has name suppression, to sexually assault two young players in 2013 and 2015.

But McGrath, who took to the stand yesterday, says the allegations from which the charges stemmed are untrue.


Today three witnesses spoke to his character, including one who gave credit to the coach for helping him be the first in his family to attend university.

The man, whose name and job titles are suppressed, was coached by McGrath for seven years in the 1980s.

"Des was committed, he always pushed discipline, but also made sure we conducted ourselves off the field with respect."

He said McGrath gave the players the belief and the confidence to succeed.

"He gave me the confidence to go to a school that was pro-rugby and the ability, the belief to further my education.

"Like I said, I was the first of my family to get School C and go to university."

Eddie Bluegum knows McGrath through a West Auckland Rugby Club that he's been part of for around 22 years.

He described McGrath as having a coaching style that is "definitely" not politically correct by today's standards.


"It's really old school," he said. "It's not dissimilar to the way I was coached in the '80. It has not really evolved since then.

"It's a gruff style, straight to the point."

But he said under the gruff front McGrath has a caring, giving nature and worked to ensure the boys would not miss out on any opportunity.

Bluegum recalled seeing a lot of laughter and chuckling among the boys McGrath coached and also recounted what McGrath would sometimes say when telling the boys to shower.

"Get in and clean your a***s, is the only statement I can attest to.

"I thought at the time that's really quite old school."

Bluegum also spoke of how giving a naked weigh was routine practice.

"You could weigh-in in your clothes, or you could weigh-in in your underwear. You could weigh-in in your birthday suit, really."

A third witness, who has name suppression and whose relationship to McGrath is also suppressed gave testimony via video link in court this morning.

The teenager described the coach's style and also gave evidence to say McGrath did not posses the key to the clubrooms where one of the complainants alleged he was sexually violated.

McGrath has entered not guilty pleas to the following charges:

One charge of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection
One charge of abduction
One charge of performing an indecent act with the intent to insult or offend
Five charges of sexual connection with a person under 16 years old
One charge of sexual connection with a person under 12 years old.

The name of the rugby club McGrath was involved with at the time and the scene of the alleged crimes are suppressed.

Both the Crown and the defence have finished giving evidence and are expected to give their summaries this afternoon.

The jury is expected to retire to deliberate on a verdict on Friday.