By Rhys Chamberlain courtesy of the Otago Daily Times.
There was a significant event in Central Otago rugby last weekend when Matakanui Combined celebrated its 125th anniversary of rugby in the Omakau district. Approximately 250 people turned out for an anniversary dinner and to listen to guest speaker Phil Gifford after games from children’s teams, a golden oldies selection, and the Premier side.
The club-started way back in 1887 as the Matakanui Rugby Club along with teams from Becks from 1925 and Valley from 1958 before the Matakanui and Valley clubs combined in 1971. Finally in 1991, all teams in the area combined resulting in the proud Matakanui Combined club we have in Central Otago today.
And proud club it is. Currently teams from the Matakanui area have held the White Horse Cup, arguably the most important cup in Central Otago rugby, more than any other club. It has produced a number of All Blacks including Bevan Wilson, Lester Harvey, Bruce Duncan, Alan Duncan and its most recent in Crusaders lock Tom Donnelly. It has also boasted some names now enshrined in Matakanui rugby history including Naylor, Flannery and Clouston. Most of these legendary names can still be found in one team or another within the club today.
It is testament to the community and the club that it has sustained a premier side for this long as numbers in recent times have dwindled and its topside has struggled. This weekend it takes on Cromwell who in turn celebrates its 125th jubilee next year. Matakanui Combined might well get its first win of the young season against Cromwell who has also struggled in the past couple of years. Whether or not a win comes Matakanui’s way this weekend, it is sure to be a cracker of a match at Cromwell.
Other matches in round 4 of the competition sees Alexandra at home to White Horse Cup holders Maniototo, Upper Clutha at Wakatipu and the only unbeaten side thus far, Clyde-Earnscleugh, at Arrowtown.
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