On the 17th April 1920, the club’s inaugural meeting took place and it was unanimously decided to form a club to be known as the Onewhero District Football Club. At the Annual General Meeting that followed 5 days later, the committee began to organise the running of the club and its activities, including commandeering Mr A Cathcart’s paddock to play on, playing strip colour, Euchre and Dance dates and the subs were set at 5 shillings.
In 1927 the Domain was established with clearance of ferns, blackberry and stumps. In 1928 Onewhero Rugby Club asked for the establishment of a football field and Mr Attewell was asked to harvest his turnips to allow for the pitch to be rolled and grassed.
In 1939, on the 6th June, Mr Les Keals opened the Pavilion and then the club went into recess during the World War II years of 1939-1945. With the end of the Second World War, the boys returned home and were able to rehabilitate and play rugby at their club. The Senior Team winning the Franklin Rugby Union Championship in 1946.
In 1959 at an Extraordinary Meeting, the name of the club was changed to ‘Onewhero United Football Club’ and the Senior A Team won the Counties Rugby Union Championship.
The 60’s saw the Pavilion moved, extended and a lean-to shower block was added after raising $1,000 towards the project.
In 1969 the first ever ladies match was played at the Annual Married v Single Day.
In 1970 a two storied club house with modern facilities and seven changing rooms was officially opened as part of the 50thJubilee celebrations with over 300 guests attending.
The club house has continued to get extensions added to it and throughout its history it is clear that the voluntary hours that have gone purely into the physical building of the club has been a massive effort from the whole district.
In 1973 the squash courts were opened and has a well-established and thriving Junior and Senior membership in 2020.
In 1977 new legislation came in introducing liquor laws into rugby and other sports, and during this time a subcommittee was appointed to draw up a Club Constitution and the club was formally to be known as ‘Onewhero Rugby Football Club’.
The eighties celebrated the 70thbirthday of Athel Parsons, “The Padre’’, a community man who gave his all to the club and many organisations.
In 1986 the first Te Marawhero team (Te Kauwhata, Maramarua and Onewhero) was formed, the goal was to give 19-23 year old players the chance to play at a higher level. The team having various experiences in the following seasons with a three week tour to Argentina in 1988 being the highlight, unfortunately the South Americans were of a higher calibre.
It was also a time of sadness when the club farewelled Jack Mitchell in 1988 but his witty reporting in his club newsletters provide continued memories of the club’s activities in the 70’s and 80’s.
The beginning of the 90’s saw the Senior A team winning the first round and won promotion back up to Division One for the championship round.
The club had to say goodbye to Athel Parsons, “The Padre”, who passed away in 1992 but he is fondly remembered by all who knew him and has his own room named after him in recognition of all he did for the Club. A memorial in said room is of a whiskey bottle that he carried with him ‘for medicinal purposes only, in case one of the boys gets a snake bite’.
The 75th Jubilee celebration on the 2nd- 4th June 1995 was a wet one but the weather did little to dampen the party and showcased the stalwartness of the club and it supporters. All 3 teams won their matches on Saturday which was an added bonus, and many were able to reminisce and catch up.
In 1996, the official cattle grazing scheme came into operation where 38 farmers offered grazing and by the end of the season the club owed 44 cattle. Leo Babe took over the management of the scheme and Onewhero was able to have an ongoing fundraising operation which operates to this day.
In 1997, a great deal of work and fundraising was done to install lighting on the pitches and was deemed a success on the 9thJuly when they were switched on for a match between Counties Second XV and touring Scottish Development team known as ‘The Silver Thistles’.
Onewhero Women’s Rugby took up the challenge from 1999-2004 and had many positive experiences and represented their club proudly with a few wins along the way.
Tracey Smith (granddaughter of George Bell) successfully trialled for Counties in 1999.
The beginning of the 2000’s saw the club struggling to recruit players for the Te Marawhero (did not field another team) and in 2008 could only field two teams Senior and Presidents.
However in 2009 there was a recruitment drive and injection of enthusiasm and help from previous players taking up key roles at the club and the club’s future started to look positive once more.
In 2009 Harvey Flipp played his 300th game for the Senior A team and in 2010 the Senior A team recorded its highest ever score, 89-0 against Papakura.
In 2010 the Junior Rugby Club officially formed and in 2019 had over 120 players playing ripper to tackle rugby. The future and longevity of the club lies with our youngsters and every effort is being made to ensure that safe and fun rugby remains at the heart of our community.
2011 saw the club work its way back into the Premier 1 division in Counties with a very talented and ambitious team, team players who went on to play their centurion blazers and continue to support OFRC to this day.
In 2014, the club fielded its first U85kg team and it is no secret that the team is my favourite. The players play hard and party hard. Although winning games is at times scarce, their attitude and fortitude, in my opinion, are attributes we wish all our players to have.
The club still has Premier status in 2020 and continues to provide Counties with some great talent across Junior and Senior grades!
Many thanks to Pam Barber for her collection of the club’s history in her book “Onewhero Rugby 1920-2010”, Rowena Massey and Brad Devlin for their input with dates and important events.
Apologies in advance for not including names or events that have been a part of the club that you might feel are part of the club’s history.
Onewhero Rugby Football Club warmly invites you all to join us on Easter Friday 10th from 12pm and Saturday 11th April, 2020 from 11am.
There will be merchandise available, rugby to watch, friends to catch up with, guest speakers and food and beverage too. Register online or contact Michael or Andrew for assistance.
Michael Haig Andrew Foote
021 286 3169 027 655 7241
Compiled by Anna Lindstrom
Celebrate 100 years of rugby at Onewhero Rugby Football Club
FRIDAY 10 APRIL
100 Club Rugby Day
1:00pm Senior Rugby - U85 v tbc, Prem 2 v tbc,
2:45pm Prem's v Pukekohe
5:30pm Game Day Speeches
6:30pm Centenary Jersey Auction (part 1)
7:30pm Band - LOOP
Food Trucks on site
Transport available to and from the Club
SATURDAY 11 APRIL
Offical Centenary Day
11:00am Junior Rugby
1:00pm High School Rugby
2::30pm Harvey Flipp XV vs Barbarians XV
Mix & Mingle - Entertainment: Dave Alley
5:30pm Centenary Powhiri
6:00pm Centenary Dinner (tickets required)
7:30pm Centenary Speeches
Guest Speaker - Dick Taylor
'74 commonwealth games gold medalist
Centenary Jersey Auction (part 2)
Entertainment: Dave Alley
Transport available to and from the Club