Stalwarts ensure Blues a force again

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Southland's oldest rugby club, Blues has contributed a large number of players to provincial rugby.

BLUES is Southland’s oldest and most successful rugby club, and this year Blues has senior teams playing in the premier, division one, division two, president’s, and women’s grades.

The south Invercargill club has won 31 Galbraith Shield titles since 1874, the glory days were from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s when Blues won eight-straight Galbraith Shield titles and contributed a large number of players into provincial rugby. Southland legends Simon Culhane and David Henderson were two of the heroes of that era.

The club experienced the other side of the coin in 2013 when the premier team went through the season winless, and the club’s B team was done away with to prop up the premier team. Those gloomy days will be a distant memory on May 25 when all five senior teams are scheduled to play at home at Balmoral Drive.

Former Southland halfback and Blues stalwart Sam Muir has been around the club all of his 40 years, and credits current President Sean Colyer as the main driver behind the club’s recent resurgence.

“He has been our President for the last five years and he bleeds blue and black.”

Colyer would instead like to highlight the efforts of a strong committee who communicate freely. “Our goal as a committee is to make sure everything is taken care of off the paddock so all the players have to worry about is playing. There is a strong family connection amongst the club and there are a lot of players and former players helping out, which is great.”

Premier assistant coach Simon Frisby said there was often a woman behind every good club, and for Blues it is Helen Peterson.

“Helen has been a big help to Sean with the administration, they’ve been super-efficient, and the Muir family have put plenty in too.”

A player that has seen it all at Blues is Daniel Townson, the nuggety openside flanker made his debut for the club in 2002 and has not missed a season in the top grade since. Townson helped Blues to Galbraith Shield triumphs in 2003 and 2005. The durable battler plays a physical brand of rugby despite his modest stature.

“I dislocated my collar bone one year but that’s been about it as far as injuries go.”

Townson has been a significant team leader over the years.

“I was captain for four to five seasons in the middle there somewhere.”

Townson’s 225 games have mostly been played at flanker but he also had enough pace to spend time in the midfield and even on the wing. That versatility helped make Townson an automatic choice for the Southland Sevens team which he also captained. Townson was also a member of the Southland B team for many years.

Despite a disruptive start to this season Blues has safely qualified from the first phase of the Premier Competition to the Galbraith Shield Competition which begins this Saturday.

Blues and Pirates Old Boys were set to meet in their final game of pool play at Les George Oval last week, but a car hitting a power pole was enough to knock out the lights and the game was cancelled.

The drawn result meant Blues only played two of their scheduled five games, after their opponents defaulted in two of their previous games.

Blues get another go at Pirates Old Boys this Saturday at Balmoral Drive. Blues B are also at home against Albion Excelsior. Blues B are top of division one after four games. The Blues B2 team in division two have won all four of their games but have the bye on Saturday, as do the Presidents Grade team. The women’s team have a home game on Sunday against Woodlands.

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