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Rugby club the heart of rural town

At the heart of the small rural town of Eketahuna is the Eketahuna Rugby Club, where nearly half of the town’s population of 444 are members.

Since its establishment 131 years ago, the Club has become the lifeblood of the community, bringing people together on and off the field.

Club President, Dennis Dougherty, says most of the townsfolk can be found at the rugby club on Saturdays during winter, with partners, parents and children passionately supporting the players on the field, then later gathering at the clubrooms for a full game debrief and catch up.

“Eketahuna has two senior teams, Premiers and Reserves, and three teams in the juniors – Under 6, Under 8, Under 10 and then some in a combined older team,” Dennis says.

“There’s no denying the club brings Eketahuna people together. It gets people off the farm and into town to be social and participate in a sport. With the suicide rate being so high in rural towns* we all have to do our bit to get our community moving and involved, and the rugby club has so many options.

Being well loved and used by its community, the Club began to look a bit tired and in need of a revamp. The list of tasks included a new paint job for the clubrooms, replacing the ovens to keep up with demand in the kitchen, new team showers and last but not least, new team kits for the senior teams.

“The team showers were just so out of date, they were not fun to deal with – who wants a cold shower after playing a full 80 minutes?!

“The players’ kits were also in dire need of replacing. The senior teams shirts were falling apart at the seams and the thirds team had such an odd mix and match that they didn’t look like one team.”

The Club’s committee tackled the To Do list head on and sought funding from community trusts and foundations to get it done. The total cost was $42,000 and Eastern and Central Community Trust was pleased to contribute $10,000 towards the project due to its role in supporting community participation and leadership and also encouraging participation in sport.

“The revamp of the showers have been completed and will get their first real test as the winter weather plays its part. The two senior teams have their new kits and look great! The oven installations and painting will be completed in summer.

“The players, coaches, managers, committee, cooks, bar staff, cleaners and sponsors all played a part in getting it done and we simply couldn’t function without them.

“Our goal is always to be bigger, brighter and better – especially in the community – and this has helped us towards that goal. We’re very thankful.”

*Statistics show mental illness is a significant risk factor for suicide among farmers Farmers’ mental health: A review of the literature, Alison Goffin, ACC Policy Team, 2014.

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression or mental health problems please contact Lifeline, which is available 24/7 on 0800 543 354 or www.lifeline.co.nz