New-look team to fly Tasman flag in Marlborough

The Marlborough-based Tasman Rugby Union staff, from left, Graeme Taylor, Dan Monaghan, Gray Cornelius, Wendy Lindstrom and Dave Paterson, with the Mitre 10 Cup. Photo: Peter Jones.

In line with the beginning of a new rugby season, Tasman rugby have set up a new-look administrative team to man their Marlborough office.

Five people will be based at the Lansdowne Park headquarters, including three newcomers to a Blenheim-based rugby role.

One face will be particularly familiar to followers of the game in this province. Graeme Taylor has given long service to the sport in this region over many years. He was chairman of the Marlborough Rugby Union from 1986-1990 and a councillor on the New Zealand Rugby Union from 1990-1996. He also served for nine years on the Marlborough District Council. Graeme is employed as a brand manager for Tasman Rugby and the Mako.

Taylor is relishing the chance to be back in the rugby community and is looking forward to the challenges each new season bring. He sees his main role as “first and foremost looking after the sponsors we have got and trying to recruit some more”.

“It’s a great opportunity for me, and for the Mako, to forge some new relationships on this side of the hill.”

After thinking his time as a rugby administrator was probably over, Taylor, who has been involved in the building industry for most of his life, said he was contacted by Tasman and felt ,”if I can help, I will help”.

“Things have obviously changed since I was previously involved – the rugby scene has gone from being very amateur to a high-class professional outfit … I’ll give it my best shot. We have had a very favourable response in the last three weeks from the local sponsors … they are all happy to be on board.”

Another newly Blenheim-based staff member who will be familiar in these parts is former Marlborough Boys’ College First XV head coach Gray Cornelius. A member of the all-conquering Mako coaching team in 2019, Gray was stationed in Nelson for the NPC season last year, but will now be based in Marlborough all year round making him more accessible to people on this side of the hill. He is still a Mako assistant coach and recently coached the successful Tasman Development team that toured the United States. He will run the union’s High Performance programme throughout the Tasman region, working with players at high performance level, plus clubs and coaches at First XV and club levels.

The third newcomer is 24-year-old Dan Monaghan, who is employed in a split role. One part of his responsibility is as a game development officer, tasked with bringing rugby to schools, plus organising tournaments, coaching courses and the like. He is also the assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Mako and will assist with the High Performance programme in Marlborough, a programme which began at the start of February. Last season Dan, who will pull on the boots for Moutere this season, played premier rugby and worked in Nelson, also in a strength and conditioning role with the Mako men and women.

The longest-serving Marlborough-based staff member is Wendy Lindstrom, who will be the community rugby advisor. This will be Wendy’s fourth season at the Blenheim offices.

Last, but not least, is referee education officer Dave Paterson. He is responsible for working with referees throughout the Tasman and Buller regions and brings vast experience to the role. It will be the second year in this role for the former senior rugby referee and first class cricket umpire.

The Tasman Trophy season will kick off on March 14, with two games scheduled for Marlborough. Renwick will play defending champs Waitohi at the Renwick Domain while Central will do battle with Moutere at Lansdowne Park. East Coast/Awatere have a first round bye. Once again six Nelson-based teams will take part – Waimea Old Boys, Stoke, Nelson, Wanderers, Kahurangi and Marist. The competition will run over 11 rounds from March 14 until May 23, with semifinals on May 27 and a final on Queen’s Birthday Monday, June 1.

The Tasman Trophy competition will be followed by a sub-union round, with semis scheduled for July 11 and the final on July 18.

The division two competition is expected to begin on Easter Saturday, April 11.

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