Marlborough rugby connection stretches to Chatham Islands

Chatham Islands rugby players Charlie, 6, and Bella Bromwich, 8, meet with All Blacks legend Stephen “Beaver” Donald during his visit to the Islands earlier this year. Photo: Supplied.

Former Marlborough rugby identity Bruce “Bruiser” Bromwich got a recent reminder of just how small the rugby world is.

Bruce and partner Eve Sutherland live on the remote Chatham Islands, having moved there in January with their children Bella and Charlie. Eve is principal at the Te One School, one of three small primary schools on the Islands.

Bruce, who played over 100 premier games for Central, captained them to a grand final win and represented Marlborough, RNZAF and the New Zealand Defence Force, remains active on the Islands rugby scene. He helps organise junior games and the occasional “premier” game when the opportunity arises, or a Kiwi team comes to visit.

At the recent Chatham Islands club junior rugby awards on the main island Charlie picked up an award and, much to Bruce’s amusement, there was a pair of Renwick Rugby Club shorts as part of the prize.

“I had to explain that I played my first club games in Marlborough for [Renwick] in 1996 before coming back to the province and joining Central,” said Bruce.

He said that the Renwick connection had come about through a highly-successful visit by the Renwick under-10s JAB side to the Chathams in September last year.

“You see kids with jackets, bags everything here with Renwick on it”, he added, noting that Charlie was delighted to get the shorts and will wear them with pride.

Bruce explained that there are three groups of rugby players on the Islands.

“Nippers, a middle group which my kids are in, then a few seniors.

“Being such a small group the community does a fantastic job here to keep it going.

“Everyone, netball/rugby players and parents, meets down at the club here on a Saturday and it’s just a bit of a training in groups, then a wee game amongst each other … very old school.

“There is only about 50-odd kids at Te One School and pretty much most the boys and girls play rugby down here”, he added.

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