Rugby boss calls time

Ian Patterson in the stand at the A&P Showgrounds, the home of Mid Canterbury Rugby.

The final whistle has blown and Ian Patterson is moving on after a 14-year stint leading Mid Canterbury Rugby Union.

The departing chief executive, who is in his early 60s, is taking a couple of months off to assess his future and his work options.

Patterson has enjoyed a 34 year involvement in rugby administration and has tasted a number of highs during his time in Mid Canterbury.

The Hammers won the Meads Cup final in both 2013 and 2014 and the Lochore Cup in 2017. They were beaten Meads Cup finalists in 2008 and 2009.

Patterson said he had thoroughly enjoyed his rugby stint here.

He was leaving the union in a solid financial position and playing numbers across all age groups were sitting at 2100.

“There were 500 less playing when I started, so numbers are good and Mid Canterbury definitely plays above its weight.”

Patterson said another highlight for him had been the successful hosting of the Romanian team during the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

“The partnership between the union, council and the community worked really well and the Romanians told us later that their spell here was a highlight of the trip.”

Patterson said his role was about doing the best for the players and supporters, who were the essence of the game.

The union was very lucky to have a strong refereeing group, which was another key to the success of the game.

Rugby, like a number of sports, faced a many challenges, including keeping the game relevant, particularly at youth level.

The historic-style rugby club was not suited to the modern environment and needed to adapt to survive, retiring rugby boss Ian Patterson says.
‘‘The club game is the most at threat. We have nine clubs here and the strongest are probably the country clubs.’’

Patterson said the A&P Showgrounds were not fit for purpose for rugby and he was disappointed with Ashburton District Council’s decision earlier this year not to proceed at this time with the development of premier shared pitches on grounds at EA Networks Centre.

Patterson is Dunedin raised and played rugby at wing or full back until the age of 26.

In 1987 he took on a coaching director role at North Harbour Stadium and later enjoyed a near two year stint with London Welsh in England.

After 10 years of rugby administration and coaching in Australia he returned to NZ and a four year spell at North Otago Rugby.

‘‘Rugby administration and coaching is not your typical nine to five job and it’s a huge commitment. It’s a job I’ve really loved, but I think it might be nice to work regular hours.’’

Mid Canterbury Rugby Union chairman Ged Rushton said Ian Patterson had been a loyal rugby servant to the district.

‘‘Ian has such a great knowledge of New Zealand rugby and rugby administration and that will be missed.’’

-By Mick Jensen