League: Blanchard farewelled in Christchurch

A daunting figure on the footie field ... and a man's man and a gentleman off it.

That was how former Kiwi frontrower and coach Lory Blanchard was remembered at his funeral in Christchurch yesterday. He died on New Year's Day aged 88 while visiting his wife Lyndsay, as he did six days a week, in her rest home.

Blanchard played 63 matches including 16 tests and the inaugural 1954 World Cup for the Kiwis in the 1950s, and later coached New Zealand including the famous 1971 grand slam tour of Britain and France - for which he had to buy his own track suit.

NZ Rugby League vice-chairman and former Canterbury coach Ray Haffenden said Blanchard could be a daunting figure on the field. Haffenden played one match with Blanchard for Linwood when the later was in his 40s and, coaching the team, came on at halftime to fire up his players.

"I can remember him vividly standing 10 yards from the goalline and offloading for a try," said Haffenden. "He was surrounded by three or four players but it was impossible for them to put him on the ground. He was an extremely strong man."

He said that same strength was visible off the field when Blanchard managed Tattersalls Hotel - "patrons who tried to get the better of him ended on the street."

A rugby player who made his senior rep debut as a 15-year-old for North Otago in 1939 and later played for Canterbury, Blanchard was persuaded by a mate at the railway workshops, where he worked after war service as a stoker on HMNZS Achilles, to switch to league.

John Bielawski of the new Avon Park Bowling Club paid tribute to Blanchard's work for bowls.

Blanchard joined the Dallington club in the 73-74 season and was a member 39 years, including 12 as greenkeeper, he said.

He would be at the club at 6am to start work, but a neighbour started complaining and the city council said he couldn't start work before 7 unless there was an emergency.

"We tried to create emergencies!" said Bielawski.

The Avon Park club, a merger of Dallington and Burwood, has named its main green the Lory Blanchard Green.

Blanchard was a life member of the Canterbury and New Zealand Rugby Leagues and the Linwood club, and Dallington and Avon Park bowls.

- By Nick Tolerton of The Star