74yo defies age to represent Canterbury at national touch champs

Barry Clausen. Photo: Newsline
Barry Clausen. Photo: Newsline
A 74-year-old will take to the field to represent Canterbury at the Bunnings National Touch Championship in Christchurch this month.

Barry Clausen is set to play for the over-55 Canterbury men’s side at the championship for the first time from April 15 to 18 at Ngā Puna Wai.

However, he says a few “niggles” may get in the way of his plans.

While he will be the oldest player at the tournament, he said it is “important to just do your best in the position you have been selected for”.

“I don’t have a problem or think about the age gap when playing against younger players,” Clausen said.

“I think the secret to my success and fitness is setting goals and staying motivated.

“It’s also exciting to be playing in my hometown for the nationals, and Ngā Puna Wai is a great venue. Christchurch has always had a certain friendly, welcoming vibe.”

Clausen, who still works 30 hours a week as a cleaner, played his first touch game 23 years ago.

He was looking for a social game, even though at the time he did not know much about the sport.

“I played rugby from a young age and through the grades, along with athletics, cross-country and road racing, judo, masters rugby and masters rugby league,” he said.

“And I am still playing league.”

With more than 70 teams in action over four days, thousands of players - including past and present Touch Blacks - and supporters from across the country will be at Ngā Puna Wai.

About 1200 touch players, the youngest of which will be 16, will contest the under-21, open or masters titles.

Christchurch City Council recreation and sports services manager David Bailey said the event “puts Christchurch in the box seat to showcase Ngā Puna Wai and the city’s attractions to a national audience”.

“It promises to be an exciting four days as our top touch players descend on the city,” he said.

“It’s also a great opportunity to promote the city – and all that it offers – to our visitors.”

Entry is free, and food vendors, bouncy castles and face-painting to entertain the younger spectators will be available.

Teams from the masters grades will be on the field from Thursday to Saturday, while the open and inder-21 sides will play from Friday to Sunday.

 

 

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