Seventy-five-year-old George McClutchie reckons his first game of rugby in 30 years will be his last. Well, probably.

East Coast club Tawhiti must have set some sort of age record in their recent clash with Hikurangi at Tokomaru Bay.

Among the 15 players who took the field - there were no reserves - was septuagenarian McClutchie, who played at blindside flanker for most of the match.

It was not a case of wanting to go on for the man born halfway through World War II and who played rugby from 1960 to 1987. It was having to.


"Some of the players didn't turn up," said George, the father of Tawhiti captain and coach Reg McClutchie and cousin of Ngati Porou East Coast championship-winning coach Joe McClutchie.

"The ref came up to us and said 'you can't take the field with 14 players'.

"I looked around and said to a couple of jokers (on the sideline) 'put a jersey on'. They said 'no'.

"I said to my son 'my boots are in the truck, go and get them'."

Reg wasn't keen on his old man risking injury competing against players young enough to be his grandsons. But he reluctantly agreed.

The plan was to go on the field and keep well out of trouble.

"I was just going to make up the numbers but once I got on, it wasn't like that. I got a few balls out of mauls, ripped a few balls off others.

"Once the adrenalin started to flow, I got into it like I did when I was young."


George estimates he played about 75 minutes - one minute for every year - although it is understood fulltime was blown short of 80 minutes with Hikurangi ahead 98-0.

"I intended to play 80 minutes but some young fulla turned up, saw me out there and decided to put some gear on and come on."

George realises taking the field at his age was a risk and would not recommend it to men a lot younger than himself, let alone someone similar in age.

"I was just lucky I never got hurt. The next day I was as good as gold."

George, though, is far from your average 75-year-old physically.

The Masterton-born man known as "Legend" and "G-Mac" - "it makes me sound like a rapper" - has been a farm worker/shepherd all his working life, the past seven of those at Mangatarata Station near Tokomaru Bay.

"I'm still working like a young fulla because I want to," says the father of seven, grandfather of 20 and great-grandfather of six.

"If I didn't work, I might as well lay down and die."

Shortly after talking to The Herald he was heading bush to compete in a stag and boar hunting competition.

As quickly as he dusted the cobwebs off his rugby boots, they were put away with the intention to leave them there and stick to helping Tawhiti off the field.

But he's not ruling out another cameo return.

"If I don't have to I won't. But I will go back out if they want or need me to. I don't mind."

- Gisborne Herald