WelCom September 2020
John Holden, Marist St Pat’s RFC
Several hundred Marist St Pat’s Rugby Football Club supporters gathered to help celebrate the launch of Tim Donoghue’s new book, C’mon Red! The publication, commemorating the club’s 50th Jubilee, was launched at Old Timer’s Day, MSP Hataitai Park clubrooms, on Saturday, 25 July.
C’mon Red! documents Marist St Pat’s first 50 years and is a grassroots rugby story of volunteer attitude, spirit and passion exhibited by players, coaches, administrators, supporters and financial backers alike.
The launch replaced the club’s 50th birthday gala dinner originally set down for Queen’s Birthday Weekend, and postponed to 2021. The Jubilee events next year will include a gala dinner, Mass, club games, social events and the naming of a 50th anniversary team.
Among the guests at the book launch were Mike Savalii, Rector of St Patrick’s College Wellington; Brad Hudson, President St Patrick’s College Old Boys Association; Peter Ryan, Irish Ambassador to New Zealand; Leasi Tommy Scanlan High Commissioner for Samoa and Mrs Scanlan; Paul Eagle, MP for Rongotai; as well as officials from the NZ Rugby Football Union and Wellington Rugby Football Union.
Ca’ii Gordon sang the New Zealand National Anthem and Heroes, followed by iconic guest speakers Ron Evans, Brian Coulter, Brian McGuinness and Tim Donoghue.
Ms Gordon, of Ngāti Porou and Rongowhakaata descent from the North Island’s East Coast, returned to New Zealand two years ago after 30 years in Australia, where she was an anthem singer for many Bledisloe Cup matches. Family members of the late John Gordon – whose thunderous voice could be heard on the sidelines booming ‘C’mon Red’ – also enjoyed the book-launch festivities.
Cardinal John Dew, the club’s patron, contributed a foreword to the book and was delighted to receive a hard copy of C’mon Red from the author Tim Donoghue. Cardinal John congratulated the club on its wonderful milestone and thanked the Board for their expression of kindness.
Marist St Pat’s has built a formidable reputation in Wellington sport since its first senior team played on Athletic Park on Saturday 3 April 1971. The new club had been created in late 1970 when members of the Marist Old Boys and St Pat’s Old Boys clubs voted to amalgamate.
The Marist club was launched in Wellington in 1918 and St Pat’s Old Boys in 1926. By the end of the 1960s it was clear that, with both clubs competing for the same pool of players, the case for amalgamation was overwhelming. St Pat’s College old boys Tom Blewman and Ron Evans became MSP’s first president and chairman respectively.
The new club had its teething problems, notably over its lacklustre colours. The first playing jerseys combined the emerald green and white of Marist with the white and light blue of St Pat’s Old Boys. In 1974, in a bid for a new identity and with memories of the all-conquering 1971 British Lions still strong, the club adopted its current scarlet jerseys and blue and green socks.
MSP today continues the tradition of the priests and brothers whose love of rugby was indelibly stamped on boys who passed through Marist primary schools and colleges. Many became prominent administrators and helped build superb amenities including the clubrooms at Hataitai and the gym and training facilities next to St Pat’s College at Evans Bay.
The club has broadened its appeal in rugby’s professional era and now fields a women’s rugby team, a women’s netball team and teams in the under-85kg grade to cater for players of a smaller build. Marist St Pat’s has a thriving junior section, and many boys and girls first experience rugby when pulling on an MSP jersey on Saturday morning.