A sport that has seen a significant amount of success over the years at UC is rugby. As at the beginning of 2014, the UC rugby football club has seen 25 All Blacks come up through their ranks. Jock Hobbs is a name which many current students may not know of, however the former All Blacks captain once attended UC. Hobbs played 21 tests for the AB’s between 1983-86 and following his involvement the NZRFU, led New Zealand’s successful bid to host the 2011 rugby world cup. In the same year, Hobbs was named the Herald’s New Zealander of the year.
Although there has been many great players through the club to date, several coaches and administrators associated with UC have played a significant role in New Zealand rugby over the years. After a brief stint playing for the All Blacks during the 1928 South African tour, Brigadier JT Burrows, a fellow UC student, took up the role of head coach and selector of the Canterbury team in 1932. He was also the manager and coach for the All Blacks during their 1937 test series against South Africa. His historical and memorable military past has made him well-known in New Zealand today. Graham Henry is another UC graduate that students may not be aware of. Henry graduated in 1970 with a teachers college diploma.
One of UC rugby’s most memorable athletes and administrators was Cecil Albert (Ces) Blazey. Blazey studied part-time at UC towards a Bachelor of Commerce in the late 1920s. Following on from this, he became the chairman and head spokesman for the NZRFU during the controversial 1981 Springbok tour. Blazey had excellent knowledge of the constitution, rules and laws of the game of rugby and would always use this to base his arguments. He sat on the board for the International Rugby Football Board’s Laws Committee from 1972-1986 and was chairman from 1972-1978. Not only this, Blazey also served for 24 years on the New Zealand Olympic Commonwealth Games Association council and played a significant role in the Commonwealth Games in Christchurch in 1974. He was described as ‘one of the most outstanding sports administrators New Zealand has ever seen’ and was inducted into the New Zealand sports hall of fame in 1990.
Anthony ‘Tony’ Wilding was a UC student who went on to achieve outstanding success in tennis. Wilding was born in 1883 in Christchurch and attending the University of Canterbury for six months (we will still claim him nonetheless!). At the age of 17 the tennis sensation won his first singles titles in 1901 at the Canterbury championship. Wilding, as the only New Zealand player in the Australasian team, then went on to help win 3 consecutive Davis cups for Australasia. Then, making his debut at the young age of 21, Wilding incredibly won 4 consecutive Wimbledon titles from 1910-1913. Sadly, Wilding died during combat in May 1915 during World War I. His achievements and service to tennis are still remembered in Christchurch.
The Anthony Wilding retirement village in Halswell was named in the tennis player’s memory, as well as Wilding Park, which was purchased by Canterbury tennis in the 1920s, named after Anthony’s Father and himself. The Wilding foundation was created in 2009 in memory of Anthony. The foundation grants scholarships to young people for sport and education as well as donating money to environmental causes and the Christchurch rebuild.
One of the greatest achievements for UC sport was the 1976 New Zealand men’s hockey team who won gold at the Montreal Olympics. Five UC students were a part of the team, Anthony Braemer Ineson (captain), Barry Maiser, Paul Ackerly, Arthur Borren and John Christianson. The team caused a shock upset in the final winning 1-0 against Australia. Their tournament campaign was filled with upsets, winning a thrilling play-off match against Spain 1-0 to squeeze into the semi-finals, where they upset the Netherlands 2-1, in the third period of extra time! The captain, Ineson gained a crucial goal from the penalty corner to seal the teams spot in the final. Ineson also scored the match-winning goal against Australia in the final to win his team gold. The team was induced into the NZ sport hall of fame in 1990.
Credit was also owed to the outstanding coach, Cyril Walter, who also once attended UC and studied teaching part-time. Walter joined the UC hockey club in 1934 and was associated with the club for 54 years. He captained South Island and New Zealand hockey teams as well as coaching the UC men’s hockey team to win the Christchurch club championship 14 years in the row from 1967 to 1980. Walter was also a member of the national blues panel from 1949-74. He helped to raise credibility and awareness for the Blues Awards. His service and contribution to UC and the hockey club continues to be remembered today.