A Brief History of Drury Rugby

Rugby has been played by teams from Drury since at least 1905. The Auckland Star newspaper dated 8th May 1905 contained a report that the Franklin Rugby Union held its Annual Meeting at Pukekohe on Friday, 5 May 1905. At that meeting, two new clubs, the Drury Football Club and the Pokeno and Mercer United Football Club, were admitted to the Franklin Rugby Union. The report went on to state that six senior teams and five junior teams were entered for the 1905 competition, viz., Tuakau, Pukekohe, Wairoa, Drury (senior team only), Pokeno and Mercer United, and Bombay. The history and ultimate fate of that Drury Football Club are unknown, but several reports have been found in newspapers over the succeeding years that refer to draws and games played by the Drury Football Club team.

What is known is that the current Drury Rugby Club’s origins date back to 9th February 1922, when a meeting was held in the Drury all for the purpose of forming a football club in the district. Around 30 supporters attended that meeting and a committee was formed and the necessary officers appointed. The founding President was Mr T Brooks.

It was decided to enter a senior and junior team in the Manukau Sub-union competition, as the train arrangements were considered to be most suitable for travelling northwards. The initial colours of the Club were royal blue jerseys, with black knickers (pants) and socks. The Club’s first matches took place on 6th May 1922, with the senior team playing Hunua at Hunua (game won 9 to 0 by Hunua).

The first Annual Meeting of the Drury Football Club was held in the Drury Hall on 12th March 1923, at which Mr R. Wilds was elected President, R. Flanagan was elected Secretary, and J.W. Brooks was elected Treasurer.

The history of the Club contained in the Counties Rugby Union’s 50th Jubilee publication records that the Drury Football Club successfully carried on until 1941, when it went into a playing recess. After World War Two, the Club resumed in 1946, being the first year in which mention of colours green and white have been found. According to that account, training was held in the railway goods shed and meeting were held at the station. Games were played on a field courtesy of the publican at the present site, but running east-west and with a rise of about one and a half metres in the western end of the ground. In 1948 rugby was moved to Mawhinney’s Paddock in Waihoehoe Road.

In 1949, neither Drury nor Papakura could field a full senior team, so the two clubs amalgamated under the name Drury-Papakura, with games being played at Papakura and training held at Drury. This amalgamation only lasted for a few years, before a standalone Drury team once again took the field.

Club money had been put aside for the purchase of a ground and in 1956 negotiations were commenced to purchase the Club’s current ground. At the time, it was considered expedient for the Franklin County Council to own the ground, purchased using funds from the Council’s reserves money, the Club’s money, and money had been raised locally to develop the ground in the early 1960s.

In the mid-1960s, the changing sheds that form the western end of the current clubrooms at the Drury Domain were built. The building was extended several times during the 1970s, with the most major and recent extension being built in the late 1980s.

As a small club, Drury Rugby Club has not produced a long line of All Blacks, but is very proud of the fact that All Black Number 8 Kieran Read began his rugby as a Drury junior player.

The Drury Rugby Club’ coaches over recent years have included:

  • Brian Lynch, a former North Auckland player who coached in the early 1980s;
  • Peter Goldsmith, a well-known former Counties and New Zealand Maori winger who coached in the mid-1980s;
  • Pat Yates, a well-known Counties, New Zealand Maori, and Kiwi player who coached from 2000 until his untimely death in 2004;
  • Murray Kidd, a former coach of the Ireland international rugby team; and
  • Dale Cameron, who has been senior coach for the last few seasons.

1961 saw a Drury fourth grade team entered in the Counties Rugby Football Union competition and Drury teams have competed in Counties Rugby Football Union competitions ever since. Like most clubs, the Drury Rugby Club has had its on-field highs and lows over the years. By 2000, the senior team had fallen to Division 3 of the Counties club rugby competition. It was then that Pat Yates joined the Club as senior coach, and had an immediate impact, with the senior team reaching the final of the Division 3 competition that first year.

The Drury Rugby Club senior team went one better the following year (2001) and won the Division 3 competition, then the Division 2 competition the next year (2002), and the Division 1 competition in 2003.

The Drury Rugby Club senior team were also the Premier 2 champions in 2007 and, most recently, under coach Dale Cameron, were back-to-back winners of the Division 2 competition in 2012 and 2013 and under Eric Van Yaarsveld completed the trebble of competition wins in 2014 winning Prem 2. 2015 saw the team being beaten in the Prem 2 final by Te Kauwhata.

In 2016, the Drury Rugby Club senior team will compete in the last year of the current enlarged Counties Manukau Rugby Football Union Premier Competition.

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