WOLLONGONG TECH RUGBY
Credit: Rick Boyle
The early history of the original clubs has been brought together by a number of sources including whatever club records were available.
The major source of information from the Tech. club was provided by the club’s history document produced by club member Mr. John Morris in 1977. Without this recoded information, it would have been an impossible task with the compilation of this history record and would certainly not have been as informative or as accurate, as I sincerely hope it is.
As John Morris stated in his document, I too ask for your indulgence as the reader for any minor discrepancies or errors. However, any major errors can be and will be corrected when these are brought to light.
Reports and results as recorded in the Illawarra Mercury
Illawarra District Rugby records – Mainly sourced from two Illawarra History Publications
“The First 40 Years” covering 1954-1993 and the “The Game They Play” covering 1953-2013
The memories of past and present club members
Club Year Books and other club records and photographs.
Rick Boyle –
Life-Member. Tech-Waratahs Rugby Club, 1963 to 2017
Wollongong Tech-Waratahs Rugby Club was born out of an amalgamation of these two established clubs which had been part of Illawarra Rugby since the early 1960’s however while both clubs were always competitive their premiership successes were few and far between on the rugby field.
Waratahs along with Tech hovered at or near the bottom of the points tables, with both clubs losing players each season and finding it ever more difficult to attract experienced senior players. Both clubs were seeking to be more competitive and strengthen the competition rather than loose two clubs from the Illawarra District Rugby Union.
A number of meetings were arranged between the two committee’s and finally a decision was taken to form a new rugby club with both senior and junior teams involved. The year was 1994 and with a few diehard members (not everyone was convinced it would work) started to establish a more competitive rugby club to be known as Wollongong Tech-Waratahs Rugby Club, known locally as Tech-Waratahs or Tech-Tahs.
In recording this history, I have tried to gather as much information that was available to me from numerous sources and individuals, not all the information is presented but I have tried to cover as many facts, events and special issues as possible. I ask for your indulgence as the reader for any minor errors or discrepancies that is I’m sure, to be another’s opinion as they may recollect it.
As I understand this project, it will be written in three parts by three individuals. I am covering the years from the formation of the Tech Rugby Club to the Amalgamation with Waratahs Rugby Club in 1994.
Background of Tech Rugby Club
A Tribute to John Morris who provided a club history with assistance from members and ex-players which was presented to the club in 1974.
Other documents were also used to gather facts and other snippets of events and other interesting information without these documents and the year books this project would not be so informative and accurate.
However, I will have to state that I require your indulgence if you consider some information provided is inaccurate or not as you remember it. I take that as a positive knowing you have read my account based on my research and wish to record a true and accurate history of the Tech Rugby Club from 1963 to 1994. Rick Boyle
The start of this club was under the name of Wollongong Technical College Old Boys which came about with a steering committee meeting being held on Friday 14th September 1962 chaired by the Principle of the Technical College Mr. Harry Corker. This meeting lead to the formation of an Executive Committee to organize sporting and social functions within the Technical College, it’s first President was (Dexter Porter with Vice President Alan Gilroy both becoming long serving identities in Illawarra Rugby) the first action of business was to make application to join the Illawarra District Rugby Competition at the start of the 1963 season.
The Foundation Committee elected to steer the rugby club through its initial year comprised of,
President -Mr. L. Moll, Vice president –Mr. A. Gilroy, Secretary -Mr. D. Porter, Treasurer -Mr. D. Roberts, Club Captain-Mr. F. Sorenson, Club Coach-Mr. F. Tarrant.
However, the first game played by a Technical College team took place on the 8th September 1962, prior to the club being formally accepted into the competition proper at the start of the 1963 season.
Two trial games were arranged one against University and the other against Weerona. Tech 1st XV won against University 12-8 in the other game Tech 2nd XV defeated a depleted Weerona. Interestingly the Tech playing jumpers used for these games were white with a red band which were an old set kindly donated by Wollongong Rugby League Club.
The number of clubs increased with Corrimal Surf, Warilla Surf and a renamed Wollongong Surf becoming Wollongong Central. This lifted the number of teams playing to 17 in total.
The Wollongong Technical College Old Boys club had nominated two teams one in 1st Division and a second team in the 2nd Division, the first official competition game took place on the 20th April 1963 with Tech Old Boys playing Wollongong Central in the 1st Division and Tech Old Boys playing Teachers “B” in 2nd Division. It was reported in the Illawarra Mercury the first XV lost 25-5 with the 2nd XV winning 6-0 resulting in the first competition win.
Unfortunately, the initial playing numbers were reduced to a point where a decision was taken to withdrew from 1st Division and concentrate on a team in the 2nd Division with a sustainable 25 registered players.
This decision proved to be a positive one with the team soon asserting itself as one of the top sides in the competition and went on to defeat the unbeaten Teachers College 14-0 in the Major Semi-final ranked as one of the major upsets of the season. However, these two teams played in the Grand-Final held at Kemblawarra Oval, unfortunately the outcome was reversed Teachers winning 17-0.
It was stated given the initial issues at the start of this first season, that it was considered the club had a very positive beginning. Comment in the Illawarra Mercury 16th December 1963 indicated a very supportive and positive outlook with great potential for the new club.
The number of registered players for this season was – Total of 25 players.
It started with the “Old Boys” being removed from the club name, two teams were nominated one in B grade and another in C grade. Both these teams played in their respective semi-finals at seasons end. History was made, on the 21st August 1964, and Wollongong Technical College Rugby Union Club qualified for the B Grade Final when it defeated Warilla Surf 12-9 in the longest rugby match ever played in Illawarra Rugby.
This event was written into the Official History of Illawarra Rugby as noted in the “The Game They Play… A history of rugby in Illawarra 1953-2013”
The Longest Game- Two virtual newcomers, Tech Collage and Warilla Surf, really faced their baptism of fire when they featured in the longest game ever played in Illawarra. Tech had joined the Union in 1963, while Wariiia joined in 1964, and the two met in the minor semi-final in second grade in1964.
When the teams were tied nine-all at full time the referee ordered an extra ten- minutes each way. With no change after that time, he ordered another five minutes each way-and again and again and again, until Tech scored a try to win 12-9. Total game time was two hours and twenty minutes.
Needless to say, following the history making game a hastily convened district meeting changed the competition rules to avoid any possibility of history repeating itself. Unfortunately, Tech were defeated in the Final the following week by University.
The C grade team also played itself into a position of making the semi-final, unfortunately the team went down to Corrimal Surf. So, ended the 1964 season, another successful one for the club in only its second year.
The number of registered players for this season was – Total of 52 players.
Note- This is also the season that Waratahs Rugby Club were formed evolving out of the former Combined Banks Club.
The season started with high hopes following our player numbers, 52 from last season together with a number of newcomers. The club nominated a B and C grade team to play in the competition. Contrary to expectations following our success the previous year the B grade side did not have a great start losing the first five games with only some early indicators shown in the first game, playing the B grade premiers Teachers College. The game was a fluctuating thriller Tech eventually went down 31-29.
The drought was broken for the team’s first win when it defeated Corrimal Surf 12-9. This proved the turning point of the season when it won the next nine out of the ten games played. The second half of the season was much the same enabling the team to finish 4th in the competition. This was the 3rd year in a row the B grade had contested the semi-finals in the three years since its existence. The semi-final was a hard-fought tussle against Weerona who won 15-12, Weerona were defeated in the Grand-Final by Warilla Surf 16-9.
The club’s C grade side had a much less impressive season with only two wins for the season and a few opportunities to do a little better on the points ladder. Thus, they missed out on the semi-finals for 1965.
The number of registered players for this season was –
Total of 56 players.
The season started with the club taking the bold step of nominating teams in all three grades. Tech College were one of only four clubs to nominate in A, B, and C grade the others being well established clubs Vikings, Kiama and University.
Tech’s first A grade 1966 match was against the very strong Port Surf team which had played in last year’s losing grand-final. This team had renowned N.S.W. Country Representative and Wallaby trialist Hadja Palmer. The match proved to be a taste of what was to come during the course of the season. Tech after holding Port Surf in the first half were outplayed in the later part of the game eventually going down 11-27.
Little did the players know this would be their highlight as the season became a nightmare of heavy losses and it was to the credit of the club, and to the spirit of the players, that all commitments for the season were fulfilled.
The Illawarra Mercury of the 16th July 1966 sum’s up Tech’s season rather well:
“Despite a consistent approach, Technical College has failed to reach the standard of the top A grade sides this year, although still showing the potential necessary for the formation of a strong club.”
The B grade side were only marginally more respectable. The records indicate a number of close games were played but losses were registered against Lysaghts, Vikings, University, Teachers College, Albatross, Aurora. Technical College finished the competition in second last position one away from last which was Lysaghts. Unfortunately, not all game records are available.
C grade provided the only bright spot in an otherwise dismal season. Again, there are incomplete game records which do not assist in a full discussion of the seasons performance. Good results, particularly in the second half of the season, included a run of five games without defeat. Wins against Vikings 6-3, University 6-0, Waratahs 6-3, Weerona 13-6. This late run allowed Tech to finish in 4th position in the competition behind Shamrocks, Kiama, Aurora. Tech played Aurora in the minor semi-final and was defeated 6-3 in a very closely contested game.
The season was a little disappointing although all game commitments were fulfilled but it was apparent that the more established clubs Kiama, Port Kembla Surf, Albatross and University had many more experienced players who were also selected in Illawarra and Country teams.
The playing group had been provided with experience playing the top players in the competition. From this they were able to judge for themselves the general standards required to be more skillful and dedicated players, thereby lifting the whole standard throughout the club which was to show itself in the seasons to come.
This is the year our club was very fortunate in having one of the club’s greatest members Cyril Saunders take the position of club “President” which he very proudly held until 1973, at which time he nominated for the Vice-President position. He was successful and held this position until he stood down at the end of the 1973 season.
Cyril Saunders was the father of Technical College Rugby Club and it was during his reign as President the “Saunders Oval” was established out of a piece of land owned by the TAFE but was a swamp laying idle. With Cyril’s guidance through the NSW Department of Education club representative meetings went as high in the system as involving discussions with the N.S.W. Director General of Education.
After many submissions and a plan, the club got the go ahead to develop the grounds with support and services provided by the local mines with their waste material and Brambles supplying drivers, trucks and heavy earth moving equipment. This was a massive undertaking for a little rugby club with no or very little resources except for a group of dedicated members who said “we can do this.” They went out and asked local businesses for whatever was required to finish the project. The grounds were finished and opened in 1975???
Apart from some flood lighting and a water sprinkling system installation in later years, the grounds still remain and are used by numerous sporting groups, with functions and events also being held.
These grounds were officially named by the Department of Technical and Further Education as “Cyril Saunders Oval” and are still the home of Tech Rugby teams from the time of opening to the present day. (January 2017)
It was also during Cyril’s time that the “Recreation Centre” concept took hold as a student’s association complex. The Rugby Club was the largest sporting group and required all members to be part of the new Student Union with three rugby club members on the Student Union Board, it was this group that assisted in the design and actual building of the facilities.
Two rugby club members, Graham Kohler and Rick Boyle, were responsible in overseeing the day to day coordination of building operations using various student groups of trade Apprentices supervised by their respective teachers.
The project was used as an actual building exercise under the direction of their teachers to build the structure, as part of their practical training. Following many interruptions due to material shortages and manpower, the building was completed and officially opened in 1981.
Back to 1967 rugby, the club had learned a great deal in the previous season with player interest and sprit within the whole club very strong, three grades were nominated A, B, and C, in addition an “Under 19’s” team to contest the newly organized competition. This decision proved to be very positive as many talented young players were introduced to rugby and our club.
One big change in Rugby, worldwide was the numbering for each position by totally reversing the numbering so the jumpers starting from front row being 1 to fullback being 15.
The ARU had complied with the International Rugby Board who changed the way the playing jumpers were numbered. The system was reversed by starting at the front row with No. 1 and going through to No. 15 at fullback. It took a little while to get officials and players to accept.
Committee elected 1967:
President C. Saunders, Vice President – Vacant Secretary – R. Boyle
Treasurer – J. Booker, Club Coach- T. LeQuesne
One of the major issue from last season was addressed by appointing a Club Coach to steer the club hopefully in one winning direction. With over ninety players registered for the season in addition to the Under 19’s. (most of which were under 17 or 18’s)
A grade players were very much looking forward to improvement from last season. The first game was against Weerona, in a close match Weerona won 17-12. Although the season did not go to plan with more losses recorded the games were becoming much more closely contested.
On the 27 May 1967, Technical College Rugby Club had its first win in A grade defeating Albatross 21-9. This was a Navy team from the Nowra Navy base which were rated a strong competitive club depending on how many navy ships were in port.
It was recorded that Tech really ran riot scoring 4 tries, 3 conversions, and a field goal. Try scorers were Rick Boyle, Colin Paloff, Bob Massey with John Formosa kicking the conversions and field goal.
Unfortunately, this was the only highlight of the season as players in the lower grades had lost interest with playing numbers falling rapidly. This had a major impact and adverse effect on the A grade side as it was left to the club stalwarts to play sometimes in all 3 grades to fulfill the club’s commitments.
B grade had a mixed season winning 8 games, losing 8 games with 1 draw. Of course, the team did perform on occasions when a number of A grade players were required to play due to lack of B grade players not turning up.
C grade had a poor season managing only 3 wins and a draw. Although a number of close games were fought out to the last minutes of the game, the wins went to the opposition.
Summary of season 1967, although certainly not living up to initial expectations given the number of registered players at the seasons start it has to be said those 30 or so hard core players who did stick with it throughout the season are to be commended as true clubmen.
The total number of registered players for this season was 92 players.
At the start of season 1968, the club was faced with the important decision of which grades to nominate for.
Committee elected 1968:
President - C. Saunders, Secretary – R. Boyle, Treasurer – T. Butcher
Club Coach- D.Shaw
After much discussion, it was decided to nominate teams to contest only the B and C grades competitions.
Although the club tried to find an experienced coach to take us forward no official coach was appointed. However, when the Aurora club folded in mid-season (June) Technical College were able to acquire the services of the Aurora coach, Don Shaw. His coaching style suited the big Tech forwards and this was the start of a successful association between Don and the club.
The game results for the first half of the season are not available which was an item noted in the Illawarra Mercury on the 10th June 1968, however a points table did list Technical College in equal 3rd place 2 points behind the leader Teachers College.
The new coach coming into the club was just the spur the B grade needed with a sequence of 6 games without loss posted. This winning run was registered against Shamrocks 15-12, Kiama 8-0, University 17-12, Vikings 14-6, and Port Surf 6-3. There was also one draw against Teachers College 0-0.
The excellent run enabled Tech to finish in second place in the B grade competition.
The major semi-final was against Teachers College Tech’s forwards were able to contain the free-flowing style of Teachers to win with comparative ease by 15-6. Tech were into the Grand-Final.
The opposition was Kiama in the Grand-Final which was reported in the Illawarra Mercury: -
A try in the last minute by Kiama stole the B grade rugby union Grand-Final from Technical College 11-9 on Saturday.
In a showground cliffhanger Tech was hanging grimly to a 9-6 lead. The game was in injury time when Kiama’s inside centre swooped on a loose ball kicked behind Tech center’s Duncan and Boyle to score, giving Kiama’s fullback a conversion to win the game.
The game results for the first half of the season are badly reported with actual results not found. However, wins are reported in the later part of the season with wins registered in June against Kiama 6-3, Shoalhaven 13-3, in July against University 11-0, Vikings 11-9, the team finished the season with a win over Weerona 19-8.
This excellent late season form enabled the C grade side to finish 4th in the competition. Tech College played in the Finals against Waratahs being defeated 8-3.
The strong B grade side was developed with big forward strength which was to test the even the strongest sides in the following few years. The forwards were able to supply good quick ball to their inside backs Trevor Cowell, and Jeff Murrell, supported with their speedy three-quarters Ian Duncan and Rick Boyle, wingers Stuart Boardman and Bill Lucas, and fullback Garth Tanswell.
A special mention for fullback Garth Tanswell having gained the seasons “most travelled player” award, journeying from BROKEN HILL every weekend to play.
With a strong stable player base in B grade, the younger players in the club were able to develop their own talents and gain experience without too much pressure of playing above their skill and experience levels. This was assisted greatly by having young players learning from the older members in the team who provided support and guidance during the game on the field. Playing in the Final was a pleasing result for C grade who produced a number of players who were selected in higher grades in future seasons.
The number of registered players for this season was 53.
The decision on the number of teams to nominate for this season was a done deal when the District Rugby Union indicated they wanted a competition consisting of three grades of eight teams per grade.
Committee elected 1969:
President C. Saunders, Vice President – L.Maher, Secretary – R.Boyle
Treasurer – T. Butcher, Club Captain –Z. Pulcens Club Coach- D. Shaw
Technical College were forced to nominate an A grade and C grade team. This decision was by no means unanimous as was reported in the Illawarra Mercury on the 11th April 1969. The elevation of the Technical College to A grade caused a rift in club ranks with one section of the club being elated while another section feeling it is too soon for the club to contest the top grade. Only time will tell, as it is hoped that this decision is supported throughout for the good of the Union code in the district.
A grade, although there had been some reluctance once the decision was made, the club started the season with a fair degree of confidence. The majority of the 1968’s successful B grade side had registered for the new season which gave the club the basis of a winning side with a big forward pack.
Their first competition game was against old rivals Vikings which was reported by the Mercury on 27th April. Vikings had many anxious moments during Saturdays game with a fiery battle in the forwards. Tech lead at half time 6-5 and looked the better side, late in the game Vikings pulled the game out of the fire with a late try, Vikings taking the game 11-6.
Technical College contesting its first A grade game performed well, with the half back Trevor Cowell being voted the best player on the day.
This promising start to the season was short lived as it was followed by a series of heavy defeats one of which against Kiama was recorded as a 66-0 defeat. However, the sprit and determination of the team reaped their reward when in the ninth round the trend was reversed, in a spectacular fashion against Teachers College.
The headlines in the Mercury on the 16th June. “Tech. College in Big Upset Win”
Tech. produced the biggest upset of the 1969 season with a one point defeat of competition leader Teachers College played at the Tech Oval. The 12-11 victory was Tech’s first match points of the season. The Tech team produced a spirited display to upset a lethargic and over confident Teachers College side.
Often the Tech pack proved too strong and forced the opposition’s pattern of play into error which allowed Tech’s backs to drive deep into Teachers territory. The game was led by Tech 6-5, however Teachers regained the lead by scoring a try. Tech forwards driving hard, forced play within five yards of the Teachers line. A scrum was called, Teachers won the ball but they were pushed back over their line by the Tech scrum. Tech’s half back dived between the legs of the Teachers second row to score the impossible try which was converted to win the game.
This proved to be the seasons turning point and possibly saved the club. A second win followed defeating Weerona 14-12 then a draw 6-6 against Port Kembla, then it was with some trepidation, time to face Kiama again in the second round. Although defeated the side performed well and recovered a great deal of their self-respect.
The final score of 9-0 flattered the Kiama side which was always at full stretch holding back the enthusiastic Tech side. The next game against Waratahs was also a win 25-8 followed by a defeat against University in the last game of the competition 20-9.
Overall the A grade team had played some good rugby but were not consistent throughout the season and missed out on a semi-final position.
The start of the season went well with three good wins against Vikings 9-3, Teachers 12-6, and Weerona 9-0. This run was followed by one of only three loses for the competition when beaten by a strong Shoalhaven side 14-0, but this was only a temporary setback followed by four good wins and a draw.
Then the side was brought back to earth somewhat when the next two matches were lost to Weerona and Shoalhaven. The season ended on a high note with three good wins against Kiama 9-3, University 32-0 and Waratahs 13-0.
This good form throughout the season enabled the team to finish in second position in the C grade competition. The team played Shoalhaven in the major-semi-final. The match was played in terrible conditions with the ground more like a lake than a football field. Although scoring the only try and conversion of the game, Tech was defeated 12-6 with four field goals being kicked by Shoalhaven.
Weerona defeated Teachers College in the minor semi-final so Tech. College were looking to the final against Weerona. The final was a closely fought out match with the first half going the way of Weerona. The second half effort was a different story, with Tech’s players outplaying Weerona for a match winning game defeating them 12-5.
This strong win put Tech into the grand-final against Shoalhaven the team which had beaten them three times already during the course of the season. The game was very tight with both forward packs striving for domination.
After a scoreless first half, the Shoalhaven side started to gradually gain some ground, following sustained attack on the Tech line with them defending every attempt to break through. However, in the dying minutes of the game a loose ball was collected by Shoalhaven which provided an opportunity for another attacking movement with their fullback breaking through the defense to score wide out, this was to be the one and only winning try of the game. So, yet again a Technical College team performed well only to be disappointed by being narrowly beaten in the 1969 C grade Grand-Final.
Presentation Night was held at the Cabbage Tree Hotel.
The night marked a special ceremony with Cyril Saunders becoming the first Life Member of Technical College Rugby Club. Cyril became interested in the club soon after its formation and with the transfer of the then Principal Mr. Corker, Cyril became the guiding light behind the progress of the club.
Cyril was President for a number of years and was involved in every facet of the club’s activities. He also worked tirelessly to obtain some financial backing, so needed, from the department. He was also very active in channeling many young Tech students into the club.
As head, electrical teacher he would offer to see if, at exam time, he could find ten marks toward their examination result. What he didn’t say at the time was, if they couldn’t get ten marks in an exam, they shouldn’t be in the electrical trade.
(He caught them out many a time, the writer being one of them)
Cyril had been a professional boxer for a short time in his younger days and was always trying to encourage players by saying fitness was the key to playing good rugby. One of his little special things was to have oranges cut up and offered to all his players at half time at which he would take the opportunity to lift the morale of the players, if they were being beaten.
He became a club icon and a very well respected man by all. Life Membership was the highest reward that a grateful club could give Cyril.
Other trophies were presented on the night to all deserving recipients with special mention for players from the club who had been selected in the Illawarra District Team to play at Country Week.
Rick Boyle, became the first player to reach the milestone of 100 games, playing for the club.
Clubman of the year- L Maher Best Forward C Grade- W. Boardman
Best Forward A Grade- T. Lawton Best Back C Grade- K. Abnett
Best Back A Grade- Y. Olander Most Improved C Grade- J. Moffatt
Most Improved A Grade- B. McVicar Top Point Scorer- J. Dawson
Country Week Representatives - John Collard, Rick Boyle, Dick Salm.
The number of registered players for this season was –
Total of 48 players.
This season started with an influx of new players to the club coming from Shamrocks, which had amalgamated with Woonona Surf. Interestingly the same had happened previously but in reverse with Tech players going to Shamrocks when they entered the competition, as those players lived out north.
Committee elected 1970:
President C. Saunders, Vice President – L.Maher, Secretary – W .Dickson
Treasurer – R. Boyle, Club Captain – T. Lawton Club Coach – D. Shaw
With the addition of the new players and the benefit of a number of under 18 players from previous years now older and able to take their places in the senior grades, it was an easy decision for the committee to nominate teams to contest all three grades this season.
A grade, the first game was against Vikings and was reported in the Mercury with the headline “Fiery Rugby Union Start” the game was won by Vikings after a tough 80-minute battle. The half time score was 11-9 favouring Vikings, within five minutes of the restart Tech were awarded a penalty with the referee Jim O’Donnell cautioning several players after the incident.
The score was 12-11 Tech’s way, this score remained until five minutes from the end when a clearing kick was charged down with the Vikings player going to ground, over the Tech try line giving them, Vikings the win.
The next four games were a mixed bag with two wins and three defeats, followed by five games without a win. Two of these were close encounters the Kiama game was particularly memorable not of the close score 15-10 to Kiama may indicate. but for the over- enthusiasm of the Tech forwards resulting in a heavy penalty count in Kiama’s favor.
However, Kiama’s fullback Brian Weir had just returned fresh from the Wallaby tour of South Africa where he was the top points scorer, had left his kicking boots at home and missed twelve kicks at goal.
So, at the half-way mark Tech had only achieved four points from these games, unfortunately the same trend continued in the second round with a number of close games but not getting the win.
The highlight of the season was reserved for the last game of the season against Weerona. The Illawarra Mercury reported on the 19th August.
Tech produced its best football of the season to overwhelm Weerona by 44-6 at Wiseman’s Park. Tech scored ten tries and looked dangerous every time it had the ball, Tech dominated the game right from the start with perfect passing and excellent forward rushes. Seven of Tech’s tries came from good backline moves with both wingers scoring in the corners.
The A grade record of six wins, two draws and eight loses enabled the side to finish in fifth position for the season. This was an improvement from last season but rather disappointing considering the closeness of a number of games.
The B grade also had a reasonably good season with ten wins, two draws in the 18-team competition. Wins were recorded against Vikings, University, Shamrocks, Shoalhaven, and Weerona in the first round and wins against Port Surf, Weerona, University, Shamrocks, Waratahs and Weerona in the second half of the season. The two draws against Port Surf 5-5 and Waratahs 9-9 in the first round proved to be costly with the team finishing in sixth position missing out on a semi-final position.
The C grade competition was also extremely close with the final four clubs remaining in doubt right up to the last couple of games with only two points separating these four teams. The first do-or-die game was against Kiama. The whole team lifted and played magnificently for the occasion winning 12-6. The last vital game of the season was against competition leaders Weerona, however in a very close and hard fought game Tech won 6-3 moving Tech into 3rd position.
Tech played University in the minor semi-final and played well to defeat them by 16-0. Teachers Collage won their major semi, therefore Tech were to play them on Wollongong showground the following week. The side continued its top form and defeated Teachers 15-8 in an exciting game.
In the Grand-Final Tech faced the minor Premiers Weerona in a match that was reported in the Illawarra Mercury: - Technical College came from 4th position in the points table to win the C grade Premiership with an 18-6 win over Weerona in Saturday’s Grand-Final. Tech lead at half-time 9-3 with a blend of experienced players playing controlled rugby.
This is the first Premiership for the club after three previous Grand-Final defeats in recent seasons. Main praise for the win must go to tech’s five-eight Sam Vlandys, who was best player on the field supported by Graham Abnett with forwards Dick Eggins, Don Shaw and Ian Dawson also adding to the whole team performance.
Presentation Night 1970
Don Shaw, became Technical College Rugby Club’s second Life-Member being presented with his club blazer. Don had joined the club mid-way through the 1968 season, following the disbandment of the Aurora club which he coached. The players immediately gained benefit when Don agreed to coach and play, which is evident in the B grade side of 1968 reaching the grand-final.
Don continued to coach and play in 1969, in the A grade side. The team acquitted themselves with some improved performances. The C grade team reached the Grand-Final only to be defeated narrowly by Shoalhaven.
Don again coached the 1970 A grade team. It finished in fifth position but had gained respect from the other clubs as a team. Don also helped the C grade team prepare for their winning Grand-Final effort to become the Premiers.
In addition to Don’s significant input into the development of the club’s players he also played a leading role in the development of the club’s facilities, organizing the fitting out of the “Hut,” construction of the shower and toilets, and many other working-B activities. The “Hut” was the original clubhouse that became legendary as the place to be after a game. Players from other clubs would often turn up after their games to for the comradery that was always enjoyed by all. For his efforts in the development of the club, Don Shaw was made a Life-Member by a thankful and grateful club.
Other awards were presented on the night –
Clubman of the year-
R. Boyle, B. Thomas, J. Collard,
A grade B grade C grade
Best Forward - B McVicar Best Forward – J. Moffatt Best Forward - R. Thomas Best Back - R. McCawley Best Back – J. Woodwood Best Back - G. Abnett
Most Improved Forward –D. Watt, Most Improved Back-B. Maitland, Top Scorer- M. Commane
Following Players reached their 100-game milestone playing for the club.
T. Cowell, B. Thomas, W. Lucas, J. McGrath, D. Salm, L. Maher, J. Collard.
Started with a major set-back when seven of the previous seasons A grade team retired or left for other clubs. In addition, Don Shaw, had returned to New Zealand which was also a severe blow to the clubs’ strength. However, with that never say die attitude sufficient new players were recruited and registered for the club to nominate in all three grades of the competition.
Committee elected 1971:
President - C. Saunders, Vice President – B. McVicar, Secretary – J. McGrath
Treasurer – R. Boyle, Club Captain – J. Collard, Club Coach- P. King
The club obtained the services of another New Zealander Peter King as Club Coach with Cassa Halan B grade coach and Lew Pogson once again C grade coach. The new team of coaches had little time to prepare, especially A grade who basically had almost a new side.
The new coach was determined to get the A grade side into the semi-finals for the first time. The top three positions were virtually held on mortgage for Kiama, Teachers College and Vikings, this meant fourth ranked club University would have to be displaced and prevented from taking the vital spot.
First game against Teachers Collage resulted in a major blow with a defeat 22-9 but more concerning was the broken hand injury to John Collard, the teams most experienced forward right at the start of the season.
The second game against Weerona was a further set-back with another defeat, 17-6. This however was turned around with the next four games wins against Shoalhaven 12-6, University 22-3, Waratahs 15-3, and Shamrocks 11-8.
The side had developed into a pattern of play, being set up by a strong pack of forwards which was supported by a steady, if not brilliant, backline. This run was halted by a defeat at the hands of Vikings 11-0, Kiama also defeated the side 19-3 and remained the only team that Tech. had been unable to overcome in its nine years of existence.
The last game of the first round was a win against Port Kembla Surf, 13-0. At the half way through the competition Technical College had 10 points and was holding fourth position.
The second half of the competition became a three-way tussle for fourth spot between Tech, Shoalhaven and Weerona. The second round, first game, was the same result as the first round, in a defeat by Teachers 22-9, who remained unbeaten for the whole of the competition proper.
However, the team bounced back to defeat Weerona 14-6, then followed this up with a win over Waratahs 11-6, and another over Shamrocks 19-0. It was too good to be true, the side suffered what could have been a costly defeat at the hands of Shoalhaven 25-16, followed by a 9-9 draw against University.
The position now facing the team was adequately summarized in the “Mercury” on Saturday 14th August 1971.
“Technical Collage will play Vikings at Tech. Collage Oval and for the Reds it will virtually be Grand-Final day. It must defeat Vikings to remain in the race for the semi-finals.
Shoalhaven meet Shamrocks at Bombaderry and must win all their matches to qualify for the semi-finals.”
Again the Tech. team rose to the occasion and the Mercury headlines on the 16th August read:
“Vikings Hit Reef in Tech. Line”
Technical College scored a convincing 19-6 win over Vikings in the one surprise Rugby Union result this weekend. The Reds, fighting for a spot in the semi-finals, won 4th spot at the expense of Shoalhaven. The man of the match was Mick Commane, whose probing runs up the middle continually troubled the Vikings defense. Tech lead 6. -0 at half-time.
Highlights of the second half were two intercept tries by Tech. wingers Rick Boyle and Yaraslaw Olender who brought the crowd to its feet when he picked up the ball inside his own 25-yard line and outpaced the defense to run 80 yard, to the try line. Both tries were converted by Commane adding to his tally of four in the first half. Tech. scored a final late try to Dick Salm when he burst through a ruck to score wide-out.
The team received a bye as Port Kembla Surf had withdrawn from the competition mid-season and went down to Kiama 25-8 to finish the season proper.
The A grade team had achieved their team goal of reaching the semi-finals for the first time in the club’s history.
Unfortunately, the semi-final was a great disappointment against Vikings which proved much too strong on the day. Tech. never really got into the game with the Vikings NSW and Country Representative P. McCann dominating the game, going on to win 12-3. The Grand-Final was won by Kiama defeating Vikings 19-9.
The B grade team had one of those frustrating seasons which promised much on occasions, but in the end turned to disappointment. The teams record of seven wins and nine defeats was not enough to gain a semi-final position.
The top positions were, Teachers College, Vikings, Shamrocks, and Kiama with Technical Collage in fifth position. The Grand-Final was played between Vikings and Teachers Collage with Vikings winning 15-8.
The C grade competition turned out to be a close encounter with Tech. having a good win record of 10 wins, 1 draw and 7 defeats, the side finished in equal fourth position, but unfortunately missed out on a semi-final place due to having an inferior points average.
Losses to Waratahs 6-5 and Shoalhaven 9-6 proved to be most disappointing and in all probability cost a place in the semi-finals.
The Grand-Final was played between Teachers Collage and Vikings with Teachers winning 6-3 in a close match.
Presentation Night 1971
The presentation night was held in the Woonona -Bulli RSL Club (a sponsor at the time)
The following trophies were presented:
Clubman of the Year – Rick Boyle
A Grade B Grade C Grade
Best Forward – B. McVicar K. McCulloch G. Ford
Best Back – M. Commane J. Kearney G. Abnett
Most Improved Forward – D. Head
Most Improved Back – T. Cheetham
IOO game trophies – S. Hindson, O. Luke, G. Brickell, A. Henson, W. Boardman, R. Maitland.
Representing Illawarra at Country Week – J. Dawson
President - L. Pogson, Vice-President – C. Saunders, Secretary – J. McGrath
Treasurer – R. Boyle, Club Captain – B. McVicar, Club Coach – P. King
B grade coach – L. Pogson C grade coach – J. Thomas
First game of the season was wooden-spooners of 1971 Shamrocks who had strengthened their ranks substantially, however a close game was expected and did, in fact eventuate. Tech. after being down at half-time 6-0, fought back to win a close game 19-18. Tech’s “Man of the Match” was Barry McVicar, scoring two tries and defending well throughout the whole game.
Kiama was the second game and they were turned on following a defeat the previous week, they hit the ground running and proved too strong winning 26-10, however, there were some controversial rulings allowing Kiama to score their second try.
Their winger ran at least 5 yards over the side-line before crossing the try- line to score under the posts. The Tech. team formed on the side line for the anticipated lineout only to be told the touch-judge, a well-known Kiama C grade bench player had not flagged the player running out. Suffice to say he was told a few truths about his eyesight and a few other things, after all it was Kiama, and the man-in-middle awarded the try and subsequent conversion.
The third game was against University a distinct threat to our semi-final chances. The “Illawarra Mercury” headline on the 1st May 1972 indicates how well the team met the challenge.
“UNI REELS AS TECH. ATTACKS”
Tech. down a man for most of the second half, stormed its way to a well-deserved 27-11 win over University. Fiery Tech. prop John Collard was sent off 10 minutes into the half after University had pegged the lead back to 2 points. However, after the dismissal the galloping Reds pilled on a further 14 points.
At half-time Tech. lead 13-0 with two tries, two conversions and a penalty goal.
A noted comment was, Tech. fullback Tony Cheetham, the smallest fullback in the first-grade competition opened the scoring with a penalty goal, going on to kick a further two penalties and four conversions.
The next challenge was against a weakened Shoalhaven team winning 34-4, Shoalhaven withdrew from the competition a little later. Tech. scored eight tries and attacked from all parts of the field.
Unfortunately, the bubble was burst in the next game against Teachers College when they ran out winners 36-8. This was the team’s second loss for the season to date.
Valuable wins were then recorded against Waratahs 18-11 and Weerona 26-7. The Weerona game was a delight as the Tech. backs ran their opposition off-their feet with wingers Boyle and Dawson scoring five tries.
The last game of the first round was against Vikings. Tech. completely dominated possession from the forwards but were beaten 11-8 by two opportunist tries scored from broken play where the ball was picked up by Vikings players when Tech. were on attack and out of their defensive positions.
The second round started badly with two losses, going down to Shamrocks 12-8, and then a spirited and commendable effort against Kiama 9-3. This run of losses was halted by the defeat of University 11-3 in a much-improved performance. At this stage of the competition Tech. has 10 points in the table and holds fourth position, with four games to go against Weerona, Waratahs, Teachers and Vikings.
Weerona was defeated 18-6, Teachers won 24-6, Waratahs were defeated 18-6, and in the last match Vikings were defeated 7-4 in a close, hard fought game. This therefore was the second time the A grade team had made the semi-finals in fourth spot, behind Minor Premiers Teachers College, Vikings and Kiama.
The 1972 minor semi-final Tech. A grade, were up against the reigning premiers Kiama, who at this stage were still the only team that Tech. had not defeated. In a very close game once again Kiama won the game 7-3 and the points for and against were not enough to carry the club to its first ever A grade final.
The Grand-Final was contested between Teachers College and Vikings, Teachers taking out they’re first A grade premiership in fine style with a win of 21- 0.
The season started with five great wins against Shamrocks 9-3, Kiama 12-7, University 12-3, Shoalhaven 18-0, and Port Kembla 6-4. The next game was a setback with a defeat by Teachers 24-8, their first loss, however the team bounced back to defeat both Waratahs 16-6, and Weerona 17-0.
The 1st round of the competition ended with the side’s second loss in nine games to Vikings 9-8, the 2nd round started badly with a narrow loss to Shamrocks 6-3, then a win over Kiama 8-0, and an unexpected loss to University. At this stage of the competition Tech. were in 4th place.
Of the five remaining games, good wins over Teachers 24-6, Waratahs 8-0, and Weerona 14-0, losses were recorded against Port Kembla 6-3, and Vikings 20-0 in the last match of the competition.
B grade Minor semi-finals, Teachers fielded a number of their A grade players who actually played in the A grade major semi-final the following week, these players provided the experience and skills to defeat Technical College following a very hard fought game 9-3.
However, it backfired when the real B Grade Teachers were defeated by Shamrocks 25-0, with them also defeating Vikings 7-6, in the Grand-Final.
The season didn’t start very well with four straight losses however, an influx of new players soon reversed this trend and also added to the future playing strength of the club. New players included Ian Torpy, Graham Kohler and Paul Darby. All three of these players became Life-Members of the club in the years to follow.
Other new players at the time were also listed Peter Darby, Tony Hoyer, Peter Lucas, Warren James, with Bob Fuller, Eric Whittaker, Peter Harrison being selected in A grade after only a few lower grade games.
The competition position changed quite rapidly with wins in the next seven games and one loss. The team held 4th position in the competition with five games to go, Tech won three of these games and held 4th position at the end of the season proper.
This was the very first time all Technical College teams had reached the semi-finals in the Illawarra Rugby Competition.
The minor semi-final was played against Weerona who had been defeated just two games before. Unfortunately, the strain of having the three sides in the semi-finals proved too great for the bench players who couldn’t match the speed of the game.
Tech lead 6-0, at half-time but Weerona scored late in the game with a 12 to 6 win. The game would be remembered more for a continuous no-holds-barred battle between Tech’s Trevor Cowell and Weerona’s Tommy Law throughout the match.
Teachers played Vikings in the Grand-Final, Vikings winning their first C Grade Grand-Final 10-6.
Although our three grades were defeated in their respective semi-final games, history was made and with the influx of young and experienced players next season looks good, providing another step along the road to the Tech Rugby Club becoming a major club in Illawarra Rugby.
The signs pointed to an improved and successful season ahead with all pre-season indicators looking positive. Almost all the players from last season returned with the added continuity of the coaching staff being retained also. Peter King was again Club Coach for his third year.
Additional new players also added to the positive atmosphere around the club with Dough Taylor, a talented New Zealander, John Tubby, Mick Henry and Bob Franks, all backs, supporting and considerably strengthening the quality and depth of the backs throughout the club.
It was considered, that finally the club had talented backs right across the A grade team and for the first time the club could capitalise on the forward strength that had always been a feature of the clubs playing style.
Committee elected 1973:
President: L Pogson Vice-President: C. Saunders/ E. Whittaker Secretary: J. Morris
Treasurer: R. Boyle Club Captain: B. McVicar Club Coach: P. King
Coach B grade: L. Pogson Coach C grade: Jim Thomas
The season started with a good test of the sides potential playing against last year’s premiers Teachers College, always well prepared at the start of the season. Pre-season confidence was proven to be completely justified when Tech. humbled the 1972 premiers on their home ground winning 26-13. Club Captain, Barry McVicar was the stand out player on the field, scoring two tries and figured in several other attacking bursts.
Another hard-fought game followed but again confidence was confirmed when Vikings were beaten 9-0.
The Illawarra Mercury headlines of 9th April "Tech. Put Vikings to Flight”
Tech. College has stormed to early favoritism for the Illawarra rugby crown with a convincing 9-0 win over Grand-Finalists, Vikings. Tech. outplayed Vikings both in the forwards and the backs in a tough and dour tryless game. Two players were sent from the game, Tech’s J. Moffat left the field early in the game after only ten minutes, while Vikings player S. Dawson was also sent from the field late in the game. Tony Cheetham kicked three penalties to register the only points of a very tough game. However, the competition has only started and it will be interesting to see if Tech. can continue their giant-killing form.
A rude awakening was waiting the side when it faced University in the third match. The Tech. backs had a very ordinary day spilling the ball more times than they care to remember.
This lead to a boil over loss by 12-0. The coach informed the side the performance was so poor he was not awarding any Best & Fairest points for the day.
The team had a three-week wait for its next match with much work to be done on ball retention and handling supported by the psychological aspects of the game.
This break provided the layoff to regroup, with the side winning the next game over Campbelltown 18-0.
The following week, on the 12 May 1973, another milestone in the club’s history was passed. After ten hard years of existence Tech had beaten every team in the A grade competition except Kiama. However, on this date Tech’s A grade team was finally rewarded for these years of perseverance when a Bob Hammond penalty goal proved sufficient to defeat Kiama 3-0. The Tech forwards seven of which had represented Illawarra, were able to match and outplay the forward strength of Kiama’s pack, which had been so dominant for so long.
Teachers College, Vikings, and Kiama were all defeated in the first five games. In the rest of the first round, Shamrocks 15-6, Waratahs 31-8, and Weerona 22-0 were all defeated at the half-way stage.
The team prepared for the second round knowing all the results achieved had to be repeated. A good start was achieved when the double was completed over Teachers, this time by 18-7. After being 7 points down at half-time Tech. came back to overpower Teachers forwards with two tries, two conversions, a field goal and a penalty goal.
This good work was continued when Vikings were defeated 22-9. Even the sports writer for the Illawarra Mercury who was a Vikings player could not contain his headline:
“Tech On The Way To Riches”
The team that can beat Tech. College is the side which will win the Illawarra Rugby Premiership. Tech steamrolled Vikings 24-9 at the weekend to put themselves 3 points clear at the top of the competition. Vikings at no stage looked like upstaging the “Rampaging Reds”. It’s big forward pack dominated play and won the majority of possession from both scrums and line-outs.
At half-time the score was Tech. 6-0. The second half provided even more opportunities, scoring three tries, and three conversions. With Jeff Moffat, Illawarra Centre Dough Taylor and Barry Thomas who scored the best try of the match when Tech. forwards surged up field leaving Vikings defenders sprawled in their wake. Bob Hammond converted all the tries as well as two penalty goals. Vikings only try came in injury time to make the final score 24-9.
The only loss of the season to date was well and truly avenged when University were whitewashed by 22-0. The four tries were scored by Rick Boyle, Eric Whittaker, Bob Hammond, and Barry Thomas with Bob Hammond also converting two of the tries.
Next came Campbelltown 10-4 and Shamrocks 26-22 both were defeated for the second time.
Could the side complete the double against Kiama? In a bruising game played at Jamberoo Oval the team were in with a great chance when the referee Alan Gilroy (an ex-old boy from Tech.) sent Jerry Moffat from the field not long into the first half. This was the second time he had sent him off in the season. With one man, short in the forwards for most of the game, the Tech. side went down 3-10 to lose their second game of the season to date.
The season ended with a win over Waratahs 17-10 and a surprising draw against Weerona 9-9 in the final game.
The A grade side’s most successful season therefore ended with the team as Minor Premiers for the 1973 season. Their games record was, Won 13, Drew 1, Lost 2,
This side had been built around a strong pack of forwards, seven of which represented Illawarra, the regular pack was: -
B. Hammond K. McCullock B. McVicar
J. Moffat E. Whittaker
B. Thomas D. Evans K. Abnett
The backs also performed creditably with the regular backline being: -
D. Salm M. Henry D. Taylor R. Boyle
The Coach Peter King had taken a decimated side in 1971 and in three years had taken them to the Illawarra Minor Premiership which was a fitting reward not only for him but all players who had devoted their time and efforts to gain this result.
A grade Major Semi- Final was played against Teachers College. The game started with Tech. forwards very much in command, however although getting close to scoring a number of times in the first half they only lead 6-0 at half-time. In the second half Teachers scored a penalty followed by a penalty to Tech. The score of 9-3 was defended quite comfortably until disaster struck only two minutes from full time.
The Illawarra Mercury described the circumstances: -
“TEACHERS SNATCH VICTORY ON THE BELL”
Teachers College nippy halfback snatched a last-minute win for his side in the IDRU major semi-final at the weekend. Tech. looked to have the match in the bag after only two minutes when Jerry Moffatt crashed over for a try from a well drilled forward movement. Bob Hammond converted to make the score 6-0.
Tech. played all over Teachers, its forwards running as a pack, outclassed their smaller opponents. Tech. dominated the line-outs and scrums and were able to keep the ball away from the speedy Teachers backs. Tech. really only had themselves to blame for the defeat, with only seconds to go a desperation kick through by Teachers should have been cleared by Tech. centre John Tubby.
Instead he ran the ball into open play, was caught and from the ensuing scrum teachers half-back was able to score alongside the posts. Their Wallaby International Peter Rowles converted the try for Teachers to run out the winners by 10-9.
Instead of a week’s rest and recuperation the side had to back-up the following week against Kiama, which had defeated Vikings 23-0 in the minor semi-final. A number of Tech. players carried injuries into the game none worse than damaged shoulder ligaments sustained by goal-kicker B. Hammond.
On the day Kiama were too strong particularly close to the scrum where Wallaby Internationals Gary Gray and Geoff Shaw were able to dominate play. The Illawarra Mercury records the headline:
“BIG GEOFF ROCKS THE TECH BOYS”
Geoff Shaw’s brilliance beat Tech in the IDRU final at the weekend. Shaw scored two brilliant tries and appeared to be only toying with the opposition. Kiama lead Tech 4-3 at half-time, Alan Rogers scoring a try to cancel out Tech’s penalty. A tiring Tech side went down finally by 20-7.
Kiama’s score was four tries, two conversions and Tech’s points came from a try and penalty.
Needless to say, Kiama went on to take out they’re sixth A grade premiership in eight years 9-7 in a hard grand-final. Once again what could have been if Tech. had defeated Teachers in our major semi.
The B grade side also had a fine season, recording some excellent results. Additionally, players promoted to A grade performed well in that side’s minor premiership performance. The season started slowly with two losses in the opening rounds Teachers 4-3 and Vikings 11-0. Six wins were then recorded in succession against University 21-3, Port Kembla 13-3, Campbelltown 22-0,
Kiama 10-6, Shamrocks 10-6, and Waratahs 32-9. The style of play can be gauged by the record that over this run of six games 18 tries were scored, 17 by backs. Dick Salm and Ian Torpy playing on the wings scored 6 and 3 tries respectively.
The side then lost a close game against Shoalhaven 6-4, before returning to form defeating Teachers 22-6, using their backline in scoring three well executed tries. The next two matches were a close loss to Weerona 4-3, and a draw against Vikings 4-4. This draw against Tech. was to be the only point dropped by Vikings during the season.
The remainder of the season followed an erratic course with wins against University 12-0, Campbelltown 14-4, Shamrocks 26-7, Waratahs 28-4, Weerona 12-6, and defeats against Port Kembla 3-0, Kiama 6-3, Shoalhaven 22-3. The side won enough points to get 4th position on the table with 25 points.
The B grade sides minor semi-final was against Kiama defeating them 25-9 in probably their best performance of the season. A week later the side met Vikings the minor-premiers which surprisingly lost to Teachers in the major semi-final. However, against Tech. they returned to form and proved too strong, running out winners 10-3.
The Grand-Final was won by Vikings 22-12 over Teachers.
The C grade team was also deemed to have a good season in 1973, with many young players performing well. The competition was very strong with Windang and T.I.G.S. in addition to the usual strong Vikings, Kiama, and Tech. sides.
The competition turned out to be a three horse-race between Windang, T. I. G. S. and Vikings, with the other sides fighting for the remaining 4th spot.
Tech. scored some good wins against some of the “lesser lights” of the competition. Kiama 21-3 and 19-3, Shamrocks 10-9 and 13-4, Waratahs 8-0 and 10-0, Shoalhaven 3-0 and 13-3.
The crucial matches played were against the Weerona and University. In the first-round University were defeated 10-4, however with the assistance of some blatant stacking of their team University were able to reverse this and many other results, in the 2nd round. These tactics allowed University to finish on equal points with Tech. at the end of the season but with superior points average overall.
University won 10, drew 0, lost 8, Tech. won 9, drew 2, lost 7, both teams were 20 points but the for and against points were 118 to 82. Needless to say, the Tech. side missed out on the semi-finals. The drawn game against Weerona late in the season probably became the decisive result costing them the semi spot.
However, University went on to defeat Vikings and then T.I.G.S. but were defeated by Windang 12-10 in the Grand-Final. Our players were happy to see justice done.
Presentation Night Awards:
Clubman of the year: L. Pogson,
Best Forward A grade: B. Thomas,
Best Back A grade: M. Henry
Best Forward B grade: B. Neil,
Best Back B grade: G. Kohler
Best Forward C grade: D. Ford,
Best Back C grade: D. Rowles
Most Improved A grade: K. Abnett,
B grade: B. O’Brien,
C grade: S. Brown
Most Outstanding Prospect: B.Franks
The following players received their 100 game trophies playing for the club:
J. Moffatt, B. McVicar, B. Field, W. Boardman
The following Tech. players represented Illawarra at Country Week:
B. McVicar, K. McCullock.
The total number of registered players for this season were 64.
The season started with a peculiar mix of good and bad news. The A grade were the reigning Minor-Premiers but this was tempered by the fact that coach Peter King was unavailable this season. In addition, a number of players had retired or left the district including the whole front row of Hammond, McCullock and McVicar, missing from the backs were Taylor and Henry.
However, any problems the club had were forgotten in the excitement generated by the club’s most ambitious project to date – A playing rugby tour of New Zealand.
Committee elected 1974:
President: L. Pogson Vice-President: W. James Secretary: J. Morris
Treasurer: R. Boyle Club Captain: B. Thomas Club Coach: L Voase
The Illawarra season was to start on 6th March. However, the NZ tour was programmed to begin on Saturday the 23rd February 1974 for the three-game short tour.
The Great New Zealand Tour 1974:
Most of the fund-raising activities during 1973 were directed towards raising funds for the proposed short tour of NZ. The arrangements were completed and booked for 31 players and officials to undertake the tour.
The touring party consisted of:
Lew Pogson (Manager)
Warren James (Coach)
Rick Boyle (Tour Captain)
Kevin Abnett, Wayne Boardman, Gary Brickell, Sid Brown, Tony Cheetham, Kerry Collard, Trevor Cowell, Ian Dawson, Richard Eggins, Phil Harrison, Alan Henson, Steve Hindson, Tony Hoyer, Graham Kohler, Don Lean, Peter Lucas, Bob Maitland, Jerry Moffatt, Rod Neil, Jim Neilson, Stuart Ramsey, Dick Salm, Steve Smith, Graham Smith, Dug Taylor, Barry Thomas, Ean Torpy, Sam Vlandys.
As outlined in the official tour book:
The clubs tour of New Zealand was Highly Successful both on and off the field, some highlights of the tour are listed below. However, the real highlights are better left off the record and allowed to remain as memories of those lucky enough to be there and passed on by word of mouth over a few beers after training.
Saturday 23rd Off the field – left Sydney airport for Auckland, travelled to Tokoroa by bus. Sunday 24th On the field – defeated Tokoroa Pirates 14-10. Tries scored by Salm, Neilson, Vlandys, conversion Cheetham.
The Pirates were coached by Don Shaw, Tech’s second Life-Member who had moved back to NZ. His team had a number of players “straight out of the hills” big, strong and worked in the local meat works as meat boners with very sharp knives.
On the day of the game, Torrential rain in the morning led to the Tokoroa boys thinking the game would not go-ahead, little did we know it was a scam to get us into participating in an early start to the socializing, with bottles of beer being freely passed around, no glasses just long-neck’s straight out of the crates with little refrigeration being considered necessary.
To our surprise (not theirs) it was announced that the game was starting in 30 minutes. In a hard-match we were able to use the training we had put in prior to the tour and play over the top of them, later in the game. After the game the social function was great with all enjoying a fantastic atmosphere with new friends, T. C. could tell his story about his stay with a mountainous Maori called, Huru.
A drinking session not to be forgotten.
Monday 25th Off the field – we travelled to Rotorua. The hot baths in Rotorua were enjoyed by all to sooth the muscles and rid the hang-overs of the night before. Although it has to be said six rugby players in a 4 x4 foot square bath was a little too friendly for some. We also stopped at the Rainbow Springs where some individuals thought they would try to catch some fish, right beside a very large sign saying “please do not disturb or feed the fish.” Needless to say, two individuals had a non-programmed swim, and we left rather quickly for the bus.
Tuesday 26th Off the field- travelled to Napier via Lake Taupo. There was a rumor that the wife of the Motel Manager was very entertaining.
]Wednesday 27th On the field- we played a club side who were regarded as one of the strongest in New Zealand. Taradale was Dough Taylor’s club before he came to play for us, the game was a fast, open game with Taradale winning 29-8. Our tries came from Boyle and Cheetham.
However, the officials from Taradale were very impressed with the form of our running backs and made the statement, “if they had our backs and their forwards as a team, they would clean up all their opposition. This was also printed in the local paper on their report of the game.
The function after the game was another standout with plenty of food and refreshments put on by the Taradale Rugby Club Committee.
Thursday 28th Off the field- travelled to Gisborne with the assistance of a few bottles of Blackberry Nip to share around. This was Bob Hammond’s old club prior to joining us. S.R. had a very entertaining night being part of the local girls’ choir, so we were told.
1st March Off the field- Gisborne High School Old Boys, had arranged for a few All Blacks to call in and have a talk to us Ian Kirkpatrick, John Collins and Ian Parkinson. John Collins donated one of his playing jumpers to the club which is presented in the trophy cabinet in our club rooms.
2nd March On the field – we played Gisborne in a closely contested game with play up and down the field with repeated phases from both teams eager to defeat the other. However, the result was a fair indication of the game with a 14-14 draw. Out tries were scored by Salm, Dawson, and Taylor with Cheetham converting one of the tries. The after-game function was short lived as we had to travel back to Auckland.
3rd March Off the field – after an all- night bus trip back to Auckland airport, the players and officials of the tour were of the opinion they had a highly successful tour with great experience provided in the games and the fun and friendship provided by all their hosts especially those who had billeted players and officials in their homes. A trip to remember.
The club and side returning from the NZ tour to the Illawarra competition were treated with a particular aura of respect. Trials for the Illawarra District Team were organised, Tech. College versus The Rest.
This was a first for Illawarra rugby. Once again Tech. College had created history as with many other initiatives over the years, Scottish Pipe Bands, dancing girls/ cheer leaders, hosting overseas rugby teams, Argentina, USA, New Zealand and holding the first Golden Oldies Rugby Festival in Wollongong at Saunders Oval.
The immediate problem for the new coach Len Voase was the filling of vacancies left in the A grade team. Unfortunately, the B grade replacements from the 1973 season had also decided to retire or leave.
The draw was not the easiest as the opening match was against Teachers College. Tech. went down 12-10 in a close match. However, the spirit of the club turned things around over the next three games with wins against Campbelltown 12-3, University 7-6 and Waratahs 30-4, this win was particularly impressive with 5 tries being scored through S. Ramsay, J. Tubby, R. Boyle (2) and K. Abnett.
The next two games proved a little more difficult with defeats by a much improved Weerona side 13-8 and the strong Kiama team 9-3. The team next faced Vikings and in somewhat of an upset, managed a 10-10 draw. This was the start of a good run of results to start the 2nd round of the competition.
Shamrocks were defeated well then University were swamped 32-4 with tries by R. Boyle, D. Salm, K. Green, D. Ramanui and B. Thomas, S. Smith converted one and T. Cheetham landed two penalties.
The events of the next week were bizarre to the extreme. The Kiama club, with nine players representing Illawarra refused to play Tech in their A grade game and forfeited. But this only happened following Tech defeating their B team 6-0 and C grade 23-0.
In the following week, the I.D.R.U. in their usual and unique wisdom, accepted the forfeit by Kiama (even though the by-law states the forfeiting of games must be from the lowest grade) without even a reprimand and took the points off Tech’s B and C teams. Kiama A grade went on to win every game during the season except this forfeited game. Tech. were the only team to get 2 points which the I.D.R.U. allowed to stand for their forfeit.
The next game was a defeat at the hands of Waratahs 6-3. A second draw was then posted against Vikings with a 12-12 result played at Figtree Oval, good tries were scored by centers J. Tubby and K. Green, both were converted by T. Cheetham.
At this stage of the season Tech. College held 4th position on the table behind Kiama, Vikings and Teachers College. Our nearest rival was University which we had beaten twice. The run to the semi-finals was completed in erratic fashion with wins against Campbelltown 17-9, and Weerona 11-3, losses against Shamrocks 6-3 and Teachers 6-4 and then a final win against Campbelltown 12-3.
Tech. Collage had secured a Semi-Final spot in 4th position. Considering the rebuilding which had been required during the season, this was a commendable achievement by the A grade.
The minor semi-final was against Teachers Collage. The game could have gone either way but unfortunately Tech. were defeated 6-3 with our only points coming from a penalty kicked by T. Cheetham.
The B grade side were finalists in 1973, also had a highly successful season in 1974. Five wins were recorded in succession to start the season Teachers 7-4, University 12-6, Waratahs 24-4, Weerona 8-6, and Shoalhaven 11-10. These wins were followed by a narrow loss to Kiama 7-6, this turned out to be a one-off with further wins against Vikings 4-3, Shamrocks 26-3, University 11-4, and Kiama 6-0. The second round of the season, although good was not as impressive with losses against Shoalhaven14-0, Campbelltown 3-0, Vikings 6-4, Weerona 7-3, Teachers 10-0, Campbelltown 9-8 Wins against Waratahs 12-0, Weerona 7-3, Vikings 6-4, Shamrocks 12-0, Kiama 6-0. This record of 13 wins and 5 losses enabled the team to finish in 2nd position with 26 points behind Vikings on 28 points.
The two losses to Campbelltown were particularly unfortunate as it allowed Campbelltown to scrape into the semi-finals in 4th position. More importantly it prevented Tech. from gaining the Minor Premiership.
Technical College played Vikings the minor premiers in the major semi-final. The game was remembered for the phenomenal kicking of fullback, Guy Mitchell. Guy kicked two penalties in the first-half both of these kicks were around the half-way line, a third long distance penalty kick, hit the cross-bar and was pounced on by half-back Graham Kohler to register a try under the posts, which Guy converted. The final score of 12-10 flattered the Vikings side who scored a try right on full-time to lift their score from 4 to 10 points. Tech. advanced straight into the B Grade Grand-Final.
In the minor semi-final Campbelltown defeated Shoalhaven 9-3 and then went on to defeat Vikings literally on the final siren by 11-10 in the final. Therefore Tech. College were to play Campbelltown in the Grand-Final.
Campbelltown had beaten Tech twice in the competition which allowed them to finish in 4th spot. The Grand-Final game proved to be a major disappointment for Tech. who just didn’t fire on the day, allowing Campbelltown to play open football and running out winners 11-0, another opportunity lost but the overall the team had a good season.
C grade had reached the minor semi-final and played Teachers College, the game was quite a thriller. In the early part of the game Tech. steadily built up a commanding 13-5 lead. In the second half Teachers came back strongly and only determined defense kept turning them back, however with a few minutes to go the defense finally cracked allowing them to score a converted try lifting the score to 13-10. Fortunately, Tech. held out strongly until the final whistle.
The major semi-final between Port Kembla and Shoalhaven went to Port with a 34-3 win and advanced to the Grand-Final. Tech. therefore played Shoalhaven in the Final and after an even 1st half, ran out comfortable winners 16-7.
The task now facing the team was well-nigh impossible. At the start of the season, Port Kembla had nominated A grade and C grade sides. Once again, the I.D.R.U. made a ridiculous decision offering them the choice to play either as Shoalhaven A side or University’s C grade side. Port Kembla choose the C grade which turned the competition into a one-horse race, losing only one game and conceding 40 points in the whole season.
The hopes of all Tech’s supporters were raised in the Grand-Final, when after a scoreless first-half Don Shaw kicked a penalty putting Tech. 3-0 in the lead. However, mid-way through the second half Port Kembla equalized with a penalty and then scored two late tries to become the C Grade Premiers with a 11-3 win.
Summary of the season.
The 1974 season probably ranks as the most successful since the inception of the Technical College Rugby Club. The tour of New Zealand at the commencement of the season was a courageous and eminently successful means of providing additional experience for club players, this was confirmed by the improvement and confidence shown by those players who went on tour.
In the ensuing Illawarra competition, the club performed exceptionally well overall to reach the semi-finals in all three grades, the only club to do this in 1974. The performance of B and C grades in reaching the Grand-Finals was also a great effort and achievement.
The total number of registered players for this season were 62.