Friday, 30 January 2009 21:24
Wellington Rugby Chairman Joe Pope today announced his intention to step down from the board at the 2009 AGM, to be held on 25 March at Poneke FC. He was first elected as a director of the Wellington Rugby Football Union (WRFU) back in 1999 and was appointed Chairman in 2003, following four years as Chairman of the Hurricanes franchise.Wellington-born Joe has been involved with WRFU for over 50 years, playing for the 1959 Centurions Colts in the curtain-raiser to the Junior All Blacks v British Lions tour match. A proud member of the University club, he represented Wellington through the age grades, was a member of the Wellington A training squad and was appointed captain of Wellington Senior B. He won both the Jubilee and Hardham Cups with his club and gained University Blues in both rugby and athletics.
Following his retirement as a player, his involvement with the game extended to administration, governance and sponsorship. As CEO of ENZA, its brand Fresh Up sponsored the New Zealand Sevens in 1980s and 1990s and was the sponsor of the Wellington NPC side between 1985 and 1986, with the team winning 19 of its 20 matches. Joe also served the game at a national level and as a director of All Black Promotions he counter-signed all of the initial professional contracts negotiated by Jock Hobbs in 1996. He recently stepped down as Chairman of the New Zealand Rugby Union Appointments Committee after three years in that role.
Explaining his decision, Joe said: "I have thoroughly enjoyed my 10 years as a director, during which time Wellington Rugby has been revolutionised. I have decided that this is the right time to step down and am leaving with the union in good heart in terms of club rugby, professional rugby and it’s financial position. There are some serious challenges ahead for WRFU, but the board remains strong and committed."
WRFU Life Member Andy Leslie paid tribute to Joe’s years of service. "We played against each other many times and Joe was a very useful footballer in an excellent University side. He was involved in one of the most colourful incidents ever on a rugby field when he almost died on our track when he swallowed his tongue. We still remind him of that when he visits us at the Petone clubrooms."
"Joe’s contribution to Wellington goes without saying. He always wanted our union to be the best and he took it to another level. His knowledge, his feel for the game and what he has done has been great for all of us and he was fabulous for myself when I was a vice president and president of the union. He has also been lucky to have Jackie behind him every step of the way and she has also made a great contribution to Wellington Rugby."