In honour of the 100-year anniversary of the 1915 Gallipoli Campaign, rugby is remembering those who fought for our country. In a gesture of solidarity ahead of this weekend’s ANZAC commemorations, you’ll see #rugbyremembers used throughout the Super Rugby teams as well as the change to our Facebook profile pictures.
We’re heading down south to Christchurch this weekend to take on the Crusaders in a special #rugbyremembers ANZAC game, which will include playing both the New Zealand and Australian national anthems before the teams kick off.
Read on to see the Blues and rugby’s connection to those who have served in the military.
Once a soldier, always a soldier
One of our players may not be old enough to have fought with the ANZACs, but he certainly knows about army life.
The team’s self-titled “old Dad,” Hayden Triggs is distinctive on the field as the man with the mo. But few know that this rugged warrior spent his first eight years out of high school as a Diesel Mechanic for the New Zealand Army.
Hayden was an air force brat (his words) for the first few years of his life, so has always had military blood. When it came time to leave school, he wanted to serve in some capacity and Army was the best fit. Literally. The 6 foot 5 lock wouldn’t be able to fit through the Navy’s portals.
He enlisted in the Army and began training as a Diesel Mechanic ñ a decision that he’s “immeasurably thankful” for. The role allowed Hayden to gain a Trade Certificate in Automotive Heavy Diesel Engineering and it also gave him the freedom to pursue his ultimate passion – rugby.
The commander and the workshop bosses at Linton Military Camp where Hayden was based after his training, gave him opportunities to train harder and longer as his rugby career developed.
While working for the Army, Hayden was deployed to the Solomon Islands for a four month stint in 2006 to help build infrastructure, like police stations. But it was back in New Zealand that his passion really started to develop. From Linton, Hayden began representative rugby with the Turbos and progressing from the Wider Training Group at the Hurricanes to full squad member. He then moved to the Highlanders, the Chiefs, across to Japan and has settled now with the Blues.
“The army gave me a career and a starting point to get into something I enjoy,” said Hayden. It also helped the lock adjust to the rigors of professional rugby.
“It gave me a good framework to work off, to see that you’re not just training to work but that productivity is the main focus. Everything we do, in both rugby and the Army, is to achieve something better, smarter or to learn more.”
“There are heaps of similarities between the Army and rugby,” he said. “It’s a group of people working towards one common goal, having unity and trust in each other. All the values are nearly identical ñ you’re working to disable an enemy.”
And his experience with the army has given Hayden a particularly unique name on the team: the Sherriff. It’s particularly fitting for this rule-enforcer – he’s there to make sure all of his teammates keep in line. That could mean everything from showing up late to not wearing the right kit to training.
“I pretty much enforce the rules of the leadership group and the management,” he said. “And it’s fun.”
Remembering the fallen
New Zealand Rugby lost many players during the war, today we’re remembering two national representatives who died during the Gallipoli Campaign: Albert Downing and Henry Dewar.
The two loose forwards made their All Blacks debuts two years prior to ANZAC day 1915, on 6 September 2013 against the Australians in Wellington.
Albert, or Doolan as he was known on the team, had been playing the sport for more than four years moving from Napier Old Boys Rugby Club to Auckland Marist and then on to the All Blacks.
He started playing rugby with Napier Old Boys Rugby Club before representing Hawkes Bay and Marist from 1909-1912. After that, Albert had earned enough rugby stripes to be picked for the North Island Country team, a tradition that lasted until 1965 showcasing the best of each island in a four-game, inter-island tour.
Albert and Henry were both then selected for the All Blacks, representing New Zealand in the North American tour and in Australia-New Zealand matches. During his tenure with the national team, Doolan played 14 of 16 games in North America, scored seven tries and was described by Hawkes Bay and North Island Country team-mate as “an outstanding lineout forward with a wonderful pair of hands.”
Henry, or Norkey, also played 14 of the 16 games, scored one try and was able to boast a specific victory over Doolan – he helped Taranaki steal the Ranfurly Shield from Auckland in 1913.
The Taranaki boy was originally from Wellington, beginning his career with Wellington’s Melrose Club. By 1910 Henry had decided to shift his allegiance to Taranaki and earned his strong and rugged reputation there.†
When war broke out, both players enlisted. Albert left New Zealand on 13 June, 1915 to fight with the Fifth Reinforcements, Wellington Infantry Battalion. Within two months, he would land on the shores of Gallipoli and was killed in action on August 8, 1915 making him the first New Zealand rugby representative war casualty. Henry fought as a machine gun specialist with the 9th Wellington East Coast Mounted Rifles.
One day after Albert’s death on the slopes of Gallipoli, his New Zealand teammate Henry would be killed in action. With respect and admiration, the Blues remembers those who have gone before us. Lest we forget.
Special thanks to www.nixonpictures.co.nz for the specific player information.
The dreads are coming Ofa
Ofa Tu’ungafasi is not only a powerful prop for the Blues but he’s also a dad who wants to support our national children’s hospital, Starship.
Ofa’s dreads have been iconic throughout his professional rugby career, all starting when he decided to drive down with a friend to Wellington and get a head full of dreads from Ma’a Nonu’s dreader.
“My hair naturally dreads, but I wanted to see what it would look like if I got it professionally done,” said Ofa.
But he’s now decided to shave them all off to help raise money for Starship.
“I’ve got two girls, they’re three and two, I was thinking about what would happen if they got sick one day. I’ve had a lot of feedback from friends and relatives that Starship looks after kids really well, so if something does happen I’d want my girls to be looked after by the best.î”
Here is your chance to get alongside Ofa in supporting a great cause! Everyone who makes a donation on this Give-A-Little page will go in the draw to win the opportunity to assist cutting off Ofa’s dreads, and four passes to watch the Blues take on the Western Force from the comfort of the Corporate Lounge at Eden Park on Saturday 2 May.
Show your support for Ofa, the Blues and Starship by donating now!
Go to https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/ofaShaves4Starship to make your donation.