Steve Hepburn identifies the top five stories in Otago
sport in 2012.
ORFU financial woes
It should be about success on the field. But for Otago rugby
for the first six months of the year, it was all about
There had been talk about its bleak financial position before
2012 started and in early January the NZRU called in the
hired help, such was the state of the books.
By the annual meeting at the end of February, things were
grim. The union was broke, had debts of more than $2 million
and was headed for liquidation. There were real doubts
whether fielding an Otago team in the provincial competition
But at the 11th hour, the union decided to plead for a deal
to offset liquidation.
After many talks and discussions, a marathon Dunedin City
Council meeting gave the approval for a rescue plan for major
creditors and the union was saved. The old board was dumped
and a new constitution and board brought in.
Hamish Bond wins gold
It felt like destiny for Hamish Bond.
After all, Bond and team-mate Eric Murray had been put
together three unbeaten years in their boat.
But nothing is certain in sport and so Murray and Bond went
to the London Olympics not counting their chickens too soon.
As soon as they dipped their oars, though, you could almost
mark them down as gold medallists.
The effortless way the former Otago Boys' High School pupil,
along with Murray, just raced away from the field was a joy
They deservedly bagged gold in what was a golden hour for New
Zealand, with Mahe Drysdale also picking up gold.
Brad Thorn (and others) join the Highlanders
After a season where the Highlanders finished out of the
playoffs, thoughts quickly turned to next year.
Head coach Jamie Joseph, who signed on for another two years,
needed to plug a few holes and started with signing veteran
All Blacks prop Tony Woodcock.
Then the rumours started circulating about former All Blacks
lock Brad Thorn.
At first, it looked a long shot. Thorn had headed to the land
of the rising sun and there seemed to be doubts over whether
he would return south.
But the truth became clearer as Thorn inked a one-year deal
with the franchise.
Ma'a Nonu followed shortly after, as the Highlanders swelled
to having nearly a dozen past and present All Blacks in their
side next year.
Steel loses 10 in a row
The Southern Steel was in rebuilding mode under a new
franchise model. That is management speak for paying players
a lot less.
It still had veterans at both ends of the court in the likes
of Donna Wilkins and Demelza McLeod but it was always going
to be tough.
The season started well with a good win over the Magic, the
eventual champion. But things started to go bad as the
pressure came on and the side got stuck in a losing rut. It
lost a couple of close ones and the confidence of the players
slowly seeped out of them.
Hopes of playoffs were dead and thoughts turned to next
The co-coaching arrangement has gone and Janine Southby has
been named head coach, some new names have been brought in
and the Australian chief executive has left.
Craig Cumming retires
Time was called on Cumming's career at the end of the
domestic season in March.
It was some career. He scored the most runs for Otago and the
Cumming played only a handful of games for his country but
was a leading light on the domestic front. He had earlier
given up the captaincy but was still a major force in the
Otago failed to win any silverware last season but Cumming
went out in style. The side won the last game he played in,
thumping Wellington by an innings and 64 runs.