Maurie blows full-time
By STEVE SPINKS
WHEN Maurie Ryan first became involved with local rugby union, sex was safe and rugby was dangerous.
How things have changed!
Sunday will mark the end of an era when Ryan steps down after 20 years as Far North Coast Rugby Union president at the zone's annual general meeting at Bangalow.
The presidency will be contested between Yamba's Bob Thompson and Bangalow's Tony Heeson.
It's believed Ryan is the longest-serving president in local sport. He took over from Alex Arrighi in 1987.
"I told everyone 18 months ago that I was thinking of retiring," Ryan said.
"I'm heavily involved in my writing, but I will still help the zone wherever I can.
"There are some moves afoot to get a Friends of Rugby Club started to strengthen the area."
Ryan, originally from the Riverina, moved to the area in 1972 and immediately became involved with the Teachers College Rugby Club, now called Southern Cross University Gold Rats.
"I coached first grade for the first three or four years and was president of the Uni club for 17 years," Ryan said.
He is also a life member.
The former teacher was also involved in fundraising for the field and amenities at the Uni, which is now aptly named Maurie Ryan Oval.
He became involved with the zone administration as the Uni delegate and has held every position in the organisation except that of the open representative coach.
Ryan's most memorable moment in local rugby was when University won all four senior grades in 1991, and he rates his best achievement as the growing of the game in the area.
"When I first came here there were four clubs in one grade," he said.
"Now there are 17 clubs in five different grades plus juniors."
At 75, Ryan is not slowing down.
He's hoping to have finished a book about the history of rugby in the area in six months, while he continues working on a history of district pubs.
Ryan also hopes to get back to watching more matches on the weekend, especially his beloved Uni club.
"I get great satisfaction watching rugby," he said.
"Particularly watching young people enjoy themselves.
"I think rugby is all about the surge to battle."