NZRL wish to congratulate the following 2020 Distinguished Service Awards Recipients:

  • John Peter Brimble
  • John Gary Clarke
  • Bill Liddell
  • Stanley Nicholas
  • Gary Whittle

John Peter Brimble

John has had a lifelong interest in rugby league. His involvement with NZU&TS’s saw him become a trusted and extremely knowledgeable advisor on all matters from governance and management to sponsorship, funding applications and fundraising. As an organisation that was constantly in a state of flux, he was a steadying influence and one who drove the profile of the organisation to the point where it became more visible and effective.

John was a guiding force through his interest in rugby league of the Otago Rugby League and served either officially or ex-officio over a number of years using his skills and knowledge of sport through his role as CEO of Sport Otago to provide a positive influence.

With the inception of the Southern Zone he was instrumental in the rebirth of Otago Rugby League, heading the interim Board formed in 2010 to get the game back up and running. He served as Chair of the Otago Rugby League Judicial Committee and adjudicated over a number of hearings where his common-sense approach was very conducive to good outcomes for the game and its participants.

Having been appointed to the inaugural Southern Zone Board in 2010, he served on the Board for nine years, the last six as Chair. His contribution to building what has become the leading Zone in NZ has been immense. With careful stewardship that recognises good governance, he has supported the staff and volunteers in the game in the Southern Zone through the ups and downs of sport. He became highly regarded at NZRL for his studied approach and for his solution-based approach to issues and challenges.

John Gary Clarke

Gary Clarke has been involved in rugby league for more than 70 years, serving the game at Club, District, Zone and National levels as a player, coach, administrator and sponsor.

Gary began playing rugby league as a five-year-old and went on to a distinguished playing career as a courageous defender, tactically astute halfback, and tenacious battler against the odds before taking up Coaching.

Gary has operated Gary Clarke Plastics for 36 years and has been a generous sponsor at club and provincial levels for decades.

The plastics factory incorporates a magnificent Rugby League Museum. He has collected and displayed hundreds of pieces of memorabilia. When his original factory was destroyed by the earthquake, he included the Museum in his move to new premises

He hosts annual South Island ex-Kiwis functions and other Rugby League events at the Museum. He keeps a caring outlook on ageing members of the South Island ex-Kiwis and their well-being.

Gary was awarded the Queens’ Service Medal for services to sport and philanthropy in 2015.

Bill Liddell

Looking at service to the game of Rugby League in the Bay of Plenty, Bill Liddell is one of only two in the District to have given so much of his life to the sport.

His Match Manager / Draw creator / Competition Manager roles were juggled with the Chairman responsibilities for the District and family Business duties. Humble unassuming and will never ask for recognition.  The length of service Bill has amassed within the game spans over 20 years.

Stanley Nicholas

Stanley (Bunny) is well known and respected throughout all regions with many turning to him for advice and guidance. He has a fair and unbiased approach to ensuring the only thing that wins is the game of rugby league.

While Bunny and his whanau have put countless hours into growing the game, this did take a toll. He has stepped back to allow others to take the reins and ease up his pressures. However, he is always in the background providing support and encouragement everywhere he can.

Bunny spends countless hours visiting schools, running lunchtime training and maintaining contacts to help grow interest in the sport amongst the youth in Tauranga. He continues to dedicate his time to running competitions, maintaining clubs, building numbers, introducing new initiatives and supporting the Zone In any way that he can.

Gary Whittle

Gary has dedicated a large portion of his life to serving the game of rugby league and the communities within the code.

He has served as a referee, Administrator, Ground Announcer, Time Keeper, Match Manager, Committee member, Vice-Chairperson and Chairperson.

He has refereed in Northland, Auckland and Waikato regions and was an executive member of the Auckland Rugby League Referees Association from 1977 until 1981 and in 1982 was elected Vice President. In 1996 Gary was elected a Life Member of the Association.

Gary was also a member of the Centenary Committee that organised the Association’s 100-year celebrations in 2010 and still attends meetings of the Association five or six times a year.

From 1985 until 1992 Gary was Chairman of the Auckland Police Rugby League Club.