Rugby: Bulls off to new pastures

Arrowtown lock Daniel Dodds (left) and  captain Aidan Winter, who are leaving the side, for...
Arrowtown lock Daniel Dodds (left) and captain Aidan Winter, who are leaving the side, for Australia and Germany respectively. Photo by Tracey Roxburgh.
For eight years, the name Aidan Winter has been synonymous with Arrowtown rugby, but that name will not appear on any team lists in 2013.

The versatile captain, affectionately known as "Goonie", has taken up a rugby contract in Germany and will be leaving the team he describes as "family" at the beginning of next month.

Winter (30) was raised in Wyndham and began his rugby career at Menzies College, where he played second five-eighth. He shifted to Otago Boys' High School when he was 17 and played in the school's First XV before attending the Sports Institute for two years.

The qualified builder said he had planned to make a career out of sport "but too much [drinking] probably got the better of me".

After a year working and playing rugby in Dunedin, Winter played one season with the Star rugby club in Invercargill.

But it was a move to Arrowtown in 2005 which paid the greatest dividends, when he joined the Arrowtown Bulls as a flanker.

"I said to Sparky [Arrowtown president Simon Spark] I wanted to play flanker. He said, 'You're a back aren't you?' and I told him I wanted to play flanker.

"Ever since then I've been flanker and now I'm back in the backs."

Winter quickly made himself at home in his new position and team, rewarded by being named captain in 2008 and leading his team in a history-making season, which saw Arrowtown win the Central Otago and Otago Country Wide titles. Winter was later named Central Otago and Otago Country player of the year.

He has played almost every game for Arrowtown over the past seven years and notched up his 100th game in 2011.

Perhaps just as well known for his various hairstyles - including a mullet he sported for several years - as his notoriously succinct after-match speeches, Winter will be remembered for the culture he helped create within the side and his ability to earn the respect of those around him.

After several years of contemplating a move off-shore, an opportunity to play in Germany arose earlier this year and was too good to turn down.

"I spoke to a mate of mine ... a couple of years ago, if he had a contract or wanted someone to play [overseas] and he said, 'Not at this stage'.

"He was coming home this year and asked me if I still wanted to go."

Although neither Winter nor his partner, Alice Cournane, speaks a word of German, he was upbeat about the challenges ahead.

"It's going to be good fun. I just need to know how to order a beer."

However, leaving Arrowtown would be hard.

"But I will come back. We're away for a year at this stage ...

"Alice has got her job on hold for a year ... but I hope to be back and play for Arrowtown, if I'm not too old."

Spark said Winter and lock Daniel Dodds, who will move to Australia for work at the end of the year, would both be sorely missed by the club.

"Aidan has been a big part of Arrowtown's success over the years, among others, but he's probably stood out because of his leadership qualities ... he leads by example, he's got high standards and he hates losing."

Dodds, a lock who joined the club as a teenager and notched up his 100th game in the Central Otago final against Wakatipu in Alexandra, had been an equally big part of the side, Spark said.


Add a Comment