Rugby: Cavanagh leads inaugural inductees

Vic Cavanagh was the most influential person in the history of Otago rugby. When the overseas rugby elite visited Dunedin they all wanted to talk to "Vic".

Some of the great coaches in world rugby were influenced by Cavanagh: Fred Allen, Carwyn James and Laurie Mains.

Cavanagh was one of 10 Otago rugby people who were the inaugural inductees into the Otago Rugby Hall of Fame at a dinner at the Forsyth Barr Stadium last night.

The deeds of Otago rugby in the last 130 years, with particular reference to Carisbrook, were celebrated.

The initiative to establish the Otago Rugby Hall of Fame came from the Otago Rugby Football Union board. Chairman Wayne Graham said it was "good to take some of Carisbrook to the Forsyth Barr Stadium and capture our past history.

"I would like to see a Carisbrook lounge at the stadium, where the memories are kept and not forgotten.

"The Hall of Fame is a starting point and a place where the deeds of Otago rugby players on Carisbrook are not forgotten. It is important to keep the memories alive."

The intention is to add others to the Hall of Fame in the future.

Cavanagh, the most noted initial inductee, played seven games for Otago as a wing forward in 1931 before a serious injury ended his playing career and he became a coach.

He made a worldwide reputation as coach of the Otago Ranfurly Shield team in the late 1940s, when 17 challenges were repulsed.

He perfected the rucking game, a style that has become a hallmark of Otago rugby ever since.

Cavanagh was Otago selector-coach from 1946-49, the president of the ORFU in 1966 and was made a life member in 1967. He was a South Island selector in 1948.

The other inductees last night were former All Black player and coach Laurie Mains, Charlie Saxton, Jeff Wilson, Kevin Skinner, Ron Elvidge, Jimmy Duncan, Jack Hore, Tuppy Diack and Richard Knight.

Duncan holds a unique place in New Zealand rugby. He was captain of the All Blacks in 1901 and in the first officially recognised test match in 1903, coached New Zealand on the 1905-06 tour of the United Kingdom and France and was an international referee in 1908.

Duncan was an innovative rugby thinker and originated the five-eighth back alignment that revolutionised the game.

Others to influence the game internationally were Saxton, who was coach of the Kiwis after World War 2 and a member of the International Rugby Board, and Mains who, coached and played for the All Blacks.

Mains is the only person to play more than 100 games and coach Otago for more than 100 games.

He also coached South African teams in the Currie Cup and in Super rugby.

The panel appointed by the ORFU board to select the inductees to the Hall of Fame was Paul Allison (radio commentator from Carisbrook), Brent Edwards (ODT columnist and former rugby writer) and Alistair McMurran (ODT sports writer).



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