Rugby’s past helping the future     26 Aug 2005

The Charlie Saxton Society has been formed to develop, retain and recruit players south of the Waitaki, encompassing the North Otago, Otago and Southland Rugby Unions.

The society, named for the 1938 All Black halfback and captain of the fabled Kiwis army team of 1945-46, will provide scholarships to financially assist rugby players at the academies of each of the three unions.

Each scholarship, valued at up to $10,000 per individual for 12 months, allows for the payment of a player’s tertiary fees, course-related costs (including non-tertiary learning programmes such as apprenticeships) and accommodation expenses.

The society is chaired by the former All Black, Highlanders and Otago coach Tony Gilbert, who will oversee the programme of scholarships. Charlie Saxton’s son Bill, a North Otago farmer, is the society’s patron.

“The society gives people the opportunity to access the best in both their sporting and educational careers,” he said. “Students can access the best education in the country and the best coaching and rugby teaching.”

The scholarship is available to applicants who commit themselves to success in rugby as well as a career outside and after rugby and who have the potential to play first-class rugby to the highest level.

“Rugby in the south operates at a disadvantage compared with more populous areas further north and we have to be innovative and think smarter to remain competitive,” Gilbert said. “The society’s scholarships are one way of doing that.”

The first two scholarship recipients are Dane Shelford, currently studying to be a teacher in Invercargill, and Chris Noakes, who is studying law and commerce at the University of Otago.

The launch is being held at Carisbrook on Wednesday 24th August at 11.00 am with a presentation to media, and an audio link with Southland Rugby.