Rugby: Three more inducted to hall of fame

Three stalwarts - coach Eric Watson and All Blacks Earle Kirton and Josh Kronfeld - have been added to the Otago Rugby Hall of Fame.

They were inducted at the Otago Amateur Rugby Charitable Trust's dinner at the Edgar Centre last night.

Watson played one game for Otago in 1945 but he made his name in New Zealand rugby as coach of Otago from 1962 to 1971 and of the All Blacks in 1979-80.

Watson, noted for his hard-nosed approach to the game, expected hard work and dedication from all his players.

He understood his players and had no problems getting difficult players, such as All Black Keith Murdoch, doing what he wanted.

The pinnacle of his coaching career came in 1980, when the All Blacks reached near-perfection and beat Wales 23-3 in the centenary test at Cardiff Arms Park.

Watson stuck to his pledge of going ''back to my club'' when he relinquished the All Black job in 1980 and has been a loyal supporter of Zingari-Richmond since.

Kirton, the second player to play 100 games for Otago, was a first five-eighth who played for the province from 1960 to 1969, when he was a dental student at the University of Otago.

He played 48 games, including 13 tests, for the All Blacks from 1963 to 1970.

Kirton worked hard on his game and was noted for his passing practice at the North Ground with his University A, Otago and All Black team-mate Chris Laidlaw.

Kirton coached Wellington to the national championship in 1986 and was an assistant coach for the All Blacks when Laurie Mains was coach from 1992 to 1995.

As a coach, he always stood behind the goalposts during a game with his trademark scarf hanging around his neck.

He was also a commentator on television and was noted for remarks like ''he's got gas'' when commentating on the potential of a player.

Kronfeld played 56 games, including 54 tests, for the All Blacks from 1995 to 2000.

He was one of New Zealand's great openside flankers and was noted for his astute reading of the game and his ability at the breakdown and as a link player.

Kronfeld played 69 games for Otago from 1992 to 2000, and 42 games for the Highlanders from 1996 to 2000.

His most notable contribution to Otago and All Black rugby came at the end of 1995 when he and team-mate Jeff Wilson signed contracts with the New Zealand Rugby Union, in the face of the buy-up threat by the Sydney-based World Rugby Corporation. The courage of Kronfeld and Wilson at that time made a major contribution to saving the traditions of New Zealand and world rugby.

It was back to memory lane for players from the 1963 Otago team, who were special guests at the dinner. They met 50 years after beating England 14-9 at Carisbrook.

The guest speaker was former All Black Marc Ellis, who played 66 games for Otago from 1991 to 1995. The 10 inaugural Hall of Fame inductees were Jimmy Duncan, Jack Hore, Vic Cavanagh, Charlie Saxton, Kevin Skinner, Ron Elvidge, Tuppy Diack, Laurie Mains, Richard Knight and Jeff Wilson.

The selection panel for the inductees was rugby commentator Paul Allison, ODT columnist Brent Edwards and ODT sports reporter Alistair McMurran.

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