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Visa Unsung Heroes Champions of Rugby

Five More Unsung Heroes Selected As Visa Champions of Rugby

Wellington, August 18 - Visa has selected another five unsung heroes of New Zealand rugby for Visa’s Champions of Rugby team to travel to Sydney for the Rugby World Cup 2003 semi-finals in November. They come from Middlemarch in Central Otago, Auckland (2), Taihape and New Plymouth.

The winners are Nola Tisdall (Middlemarch), Ces Jack (Auckland), Colin Thomas (Taihape), Malcolm Vickery (New Plymouth), Edie Baker (Auckland).

Visa, has undertaken a nationwide search for New Zealand’s most worthy supporters of the national game. Friends and families have nominated more than 1300 candidates since May. Ten Champions have been selected so far and five more will be selected early in September. Each will receive tickets, travel and accommodation for the Rugby World Cup 2003 semi-finals. Nominators get to accompany their nominee if he or she is selected for the team.

The team selectors are Rugby World Cup 2003 Visa Ambassador and legendary player Zinzan Brooke, sports editor Campbell Mitchell, broadcaster Murray Deaker and ardent fan Carole Hirst from Auckland.

The Winners

Nola Tisdall (Middlemarch, Otago)

Nola Tisdall is the bus driver for, and number one supporter of, the Strath Taieri Rugby Football Club in Central Otago. The club senior team has to travel long distances to play and week-in, week-out Nola drives the team, in all conditions, yells support from the sideline, waits patiently through the after-match functions then drives them home again often in the early hours of Sunday morning. And then she can be seen cleaning out the bus (which doubles as the local school bus) ready for the new week.

Her nominator, Lynnmore Templeton said,” She has the patience of a saint, loves the game of rugby and is a true and loyal supporter of her Strath Taieri boys in blue and gold.”

Edie Baker (Auckland)

Edie Baker is the long serving Secretary-Treasurer of Auckland’s Grammar Old Boys (now Grammar-Canton) Club. She has worked tirelessly in support of rugby, performing a wide range of tasks outside the secretary-treasurer role. Her nominator has asked that Edie’s husband Reece accompany Edie to Sydney in recognition of his many years service as a voluntary rugby referee.

Nominator Mike Allen said, “The club will forever be in Edie’s debt. I could think of no better reward for this couple than to have their service recognised and be awarded membership of the Visa Champions of Rugby team.”

Ces Jack (North Shore,Auckland)

Since 1988 Ces Jack has devoted his coaching skills to helping at-risk teenagers by involving them in team environments at the Northcote Rugby Football Club. Ces and his wife Cathy have helped young people financially by paying subs for some and also with meals and accommodation when needed.

Ces’s nominator, David MacDonald said, “Ces and Cathy are a quiet unassuming couple who would rather focus on the players than themselves.”

Colin Thomas (Taihape)

For 50 years Colin has spent every Saturday during the rugby season on a rugby field somewhere and at least one night each week at a meeting or training session. He has played, coached and refereed in Fielding, Taihape, Ohakune and Wanganui. He’s provided transport, marked out fields and his fundraising efforts have included crutching and dagging sheep. His nominator Jim Thomas said,” Ask anyone what Colin does in his spare time, they’ll say ‘what spare time – he’s always at rugby.”

Malcolm Vickery (New Plymouth)

Malcolm has been involved with the Tikorangi and now Clifton clubs for over 30 years. He spearheaded the fundraising effort to build new clubrooms at Tikorangi. Baling hay for sale was just one activity that Malcolm and his close friend Trevor Lye have undertaken in raising over $750,000 during their time. The clubrooms are now freehold and a wonderful asset for the community. Nominator Sharron McIver would like Trevor to go to Sydney with Malcolm in her place. “They are both dedicated to the sport and their club and they deserve special recognition for their lifelong efforts..”

All Great Servants, Says Visa

Visa’s Executive Vice President, Gordon Wheaton said the ten Champions selected so far epitomised the dedication to and strength of grassroots rugby in New Zealand.

“These people give so generously and without any expectation of money or recognition – just for love of the game,” he said. “It’s fantastic that as a sponsor of the Rugby World Cup 2003 Visa can give these great servants of New Zealand rugby, the opportunity to be at the Cup in November.

Speaking on behalf of the judges, Zinzan Brooke said the second round of winners had been just as tough to select as the first. “And I expect the third round to be equally difficult,” he said.

“But it’s heart-warming to read all the great stories that have come in and it puts us in really good heart about the game in New Zealand.”

The remaining five-team members will be selected early in September and nominations close on August 27. Those nominees not selected in the first two rounds are still eligible for the third round.

© Scoop Media

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