Tonight at our AGM, Tom Crosby was awarded the PBRFU Distinguished Service Award.
Tom believes rugby is much more than a game. He says it’s corny but all the clichés, such as rugby creates mates for life and it brings the community together, are true.
Tom remembers getting his first pair of rugby boots at three-years-old and hardly taking them off until he was about eight-years-old – his mother had the foresight to buy boots much bigger than he needed so he could grow into them or hope he could grow into them quickly.
The yellow and black colours of Waikirikiri School were the first of many jerseys Tom would wear. Never one to let a good story getaway, Tom can easily recall beating Kaiti to claim the Weka Ball in 1978 as well as winning the MCC Baton the same year.
He cherishes the way he was brought up in Kaiti – that real community feeling where all the kids used to run around together in the evenings playing rugby, cricket, bullrush, kick-the-can or planet of the apes. His Mum and Dad always supported their kids as well as the kids around the neighbourhood – loading kids into the van and taking them where they needed to go.
Moving to Ilminster Intermediate School he was part of two unbeaten seasons. It was here he really fell in love with rugby, playing rugby on a Saturday morning and then heading along to Rugby Park and being a ball boy for the Seniors. The pie and a fizzy as payment was just a bonus he reckons – he would have done it for free.
Tom went on to play for Gisborne Boys High School First XV but one of his favourite memories of the team was when he wasn’t playing but instead as a ball boy. The First XV were hosting an unbeaten St Stephens team in 1980. Gisborne wasn’t expected to win but Tom recalls getting dragged into a team huddle during the warmup with the likes of David White, Paul Duncan and Trevor Stuart, and the newly appointed Sir Derek Lardelli as captain says, “These guys should never have come here”. He grabs Tom and says to him “one day you’re going to be part of this”. Gisborne Boys High School thumped St Stephens that day and it gave Tom the inspiration to go on and play for the First XV and form a lifelong love for the game. It’s a story that still gives him goosebumps.
Tom and his family have been heavily involved with OBM since the amalgamation in 1996. He is currently the OBM Club Captain – a role he has held since 2005 – and supports the Premier Rugby management team for the second year. His club highlight is the 2000 Lee Brothers Shield Final win against Horouta. Followed closely, are the five Lee Brothers Shield wins in a row from 2000 through to 2004. OBM is a club he’s incredibly passionate about and holds very high standards of its members. That’s not to say you can’t have a good time, and we all know Tom loves a good time – especially those who have been on a Legends’ bus trip.
The ‘Tui’ Poverty Bay Legends is a highlight for Tom now – getting mates off the couch, throwing the ball around, having a laugh and a game when it’s possible.
Tom is one of the real characters of rugby in Poverty Bay and one of its biggest supporters. We’re fortunate to have Tom promoting this great game. It’s our turn to promote him with a very well-deserved Distinguished Service Award to Poverty Bay Rugby Football Union. Well done, Tom, and thank you to OBM Sports Club for his nomination.