The Wellington Rugby Community was saddened to learn this week of the passing of one of its most influential rugby administrators, Graham Atkin, who died aged 87 on Saturday, October 21.
Atkin, a WRFU Life Member, was an outstanding contributor to rugby in Wellington over a period that spanned 50 years, firstly as a player with the University club and subsequently as an accomplished administrator at club, provincial and national level.
Many have described Atkin as a visionary in the game and a truly forward thinker, serving as Chairman of the WRFU for an astounding 17 years from 1976-1993.
During this time, Graham was instrumental in the establishment of the sin bin in 1978; behind Wellington Rugby's insistence to NZ Rugby that it should pursue a Rugby World Cup (1987), and a leading voice in the formation of the South Pacific Championship (ultimately a forerunner to Super Rugby).
During his tenure, Wellington won three National Provincial Championships and held the Ranfurly Shield.
Atkin also served on the NZRU Council from 1986 to 1994 in a period critical to the game as it entered the professional era.
Graham is survived by his wife Jenny and four children Mark, Stephen, Jenni-Lynne and Tracy.