Charity game to further school’s sport

Blair Vining and his wife Melissa hope to attract a large crowd to a charity rugby game in Winton to raise funds for a foundation named in his honour to help attract junior sporting talent to Central Southland College. Photo: Ben Waterworth
Blair Vining and his wife Melissa hope to attract a large crowd to a charity rugby game in Winton to raise funds for a foundation named in his honour to help attract junior sporting talent to Central Southland College. Photo: Ben Waterworth
For Blair Vining, having the opportunity to play in front of a couple of thousand people this Saturday is one he is very excited about.

The Winton local and Midlands Rugby Club games record holder will be the star attraction at the charity game held in his honour this Saturday, even stealing the limelight from former All Blacks Jimmy Cowan and Mils Muliaina.

Last year Mr Vining was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer, which spread to his liver and lungs.

He came up with the idea of holding a rugby game to help raise funds to send the Central Southland College first XV, a team which he coaches, to a tournament in Australia in April.

‘‘It was just going to be a game of rugby with me and my mates and now it’s just grown another leg and formed its own self. The people organising it have done an outstanding job. The whole community has just gotten together. It has just blown me away,’’ he said.

Mr Vining’s wife Melissa has organised the match, to be held at Midlands Rugby Club grounds in Winton on Saturday, as well as a black tie evening following the game.

She said the support from the community had been overwhelming and thousands of dollars worth of donations had come from a variety of businesses.

Items have also been donated for an auction to be held during the black tie event, including a signed All Blacks jersey from the 1999 World Cup.

Funds raised will also go towards a foundation named in his honour, which will support local athletes at the Central Southland College and give them the same opportunities for further sporting endeavours as they would find in schools in larger population centres.

Mrs Vining said her husband’s selflessness since he was diagnosed had been amazing.

‘‘He gets told he’s got cancer and a very short time to live and his thoughts are straight away to these kids to go to Australia ... his selflessness and his passion and just how brave he is. We just want to create a good legacy so that all his good work can carry on.’’

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