Marist debut not quite by the book

Former player, coach and All Black Bill McCaw (93, left) and former Marist player Tony Fahey (88) enjoy a catch-up at the Marist Rugby Club centenary celebrations, held in Invercargill, at the weekend.

PLAYING rugby for Marist got Tony Fahey out of doing homework.

Mr Fahey, who played for the club from 1948 to 1962, was at the Marist Rugby Club centenary celebrations held at the weekend.

His daughter, Francine Tohill, said when a Marist brother at school asked her father to play rugby, he said he could not as he had to milk the cows after school as well as do his home

‘‘The brother rang his mother and said that Dad wouldn’t get any homework if he played for the team,’’ Mrs Tohill said.

The most memorable moment in Mr Fahey’s rugby career was in 1957, in a game against Bluff.

‘‘We knew if we won that game we would win the competition [Galbraith Shield] with still one game to play,’’ Mr Fahey said.

They did win it, and although it was a momentous occasion, he did not have time to stop and join in the celebrations with his team-mates.

‘‘I had to go and milk the cows.’’

At the time, former All Black Bill McCaw was coaching the team.

‘‘He was a guy you took notice of,’’ Mr Fahey said.

‘‘He was a real gentleman.’’

An All Black in 1951, then again from 1953-54, Mr McCaw was also at the weekend’s photo roll call.

Mr McCaw, who played and coached at the club between 1948 and 1978, attributes his national selection in part to the coaching he received at the Marist Rugby Club.

‘‘My first coach here [in 1948] was Noel Forde and that was when the Marist club won the competition that year.

‘‘He taught me how to cover defend and that’s what really got me through to the All Blacks. I maintain that Noel Forde was one of the best coaches.’’

About 300 past and present players joined in the celebrations during Queen’s Birthday weekend, which included games at the club grounds and Rugby Park, an informal night at the clubrooms on Saturday, Mass at St Mary’s Basilica on Sunday and a formal dinner at the Ascot Park Hotel on Sunday night.

Despite the premier result not going Marist’s way, the team losing 9-23 against Pirates-Old Boys on Saturday, president Bill Dowling said the weekend’s celebrations had gone smoothly.

‘‘The turnout has just been phenomenal.’’