You’ll struggle to find a volunteer who has dedicated more of their life to rugby league than Jack Newson.
The 75-year-old was the well deserved recipient of the Male Pirtek Volunteer of the Year award at the NZRL Annual Awards earlier this year. This award recognises the tireless efforts of our sport’s behind-the-scenes legends at grassroots level.
As a Life Member of the Hornby Rugby League Club, Newson lives and breathes the game and is said to be one of the club’s biggest supporters.
“He is extremely humble, and never ever asks for anything in return. We as a club are honoured to be in his presence”
His involvement with the Hornby Rugby League Club spans over 65 years as a player, coach, executive member and life member, and he currently still plays for the Masters team. Not only does he help with skills days for juniors, he fixes and maintains the club and is always the first person to be watching and supporting around Canterbury’s fields.
Newson sat down with Andrew King from Christchurch’s Western News to chat about his life of rugby league.
So Jack, you have a longstanding tie with the Hornby Panthers, 66 years and counting. What got you into league?
“When I was growing up every young kid around the country wanted to be an All Black. But we were from Hornby and we wanted to be Kiwis. That was the difference, we are a staunch rugby league area. League dominated and I still love the game right up to today. It has been my life.”
Now you volunteer for the club and was named top male volunteer of the year by NZRL. Are there more people helping out nowadays or less?
“There is plenty of people who help out with the club and we have an excellent committee who gets a lot of work done. I just help out when I can and I don’t live far away. I go over there every week. I like to go to the schoolboys’ prize giving. I love watching the younger kids coming through. Gave up coaching but I really like watching them develop their skills. There is a lot of good coaches there now, that have
passed me. I used to coach 14s take them to 15s then to 16s and then drop back down and do it all over again.”
So what keeps you coming back to help out?
“It is part of my life. My love of the club, the sport all rolls into one. It is a major part of my life. When my boys finished playing I was a bit lost. I had been flat tack chasing teams here there everywhere then it just stopped. Now grand kids are coming through so it all started again.”