Rugby?s first ?lifer? lives for the game
By STEVE SPINKS
MAURIE Ryan has had a heck of life.
After all he's been made a life member of a number of organisations and associations.
Among the many are the Southern Cross University Union, the Southern Cross University Rugby Union Club and the Richmond River Historical Society.
But he still gets a thrill when an organisation recognises his contribution.
So it was with a certain amount of pride that Ryan accepted life membership to the Far North Coast Rugby Union at the recent annual general meeting.
It is a notable achievement, as the former school teacher and university lecturer is the first person to gain life membership to FNC Rugby.
It is even more notable, when you consider that at least three-quarters of the AGM attendants had to agree for the motion to pass.
"Oh yeah, it was a bit of thrill," Ryan admitted.
"It's one of many, but I probably value this one more ... it would be a toss up anyway."
The reason Ryan may value this most recent life membership is simple.
He lives and breathes rugby.
If he's not watching rugby, he's talking about it.
If he's not talking about it, he's thinking about it.
If he's not thinking about it, he's dreaming about it.
He's been the president of the FNC rugby union since 1972 ... a reign of 32 years, which will be added to next season.
Originally from Wagga Wagga, Ryan moved to the area to take up a teaching job at Casino.
He had played rugby in his younger days in the Riverina, but a broken collarbone cruelled any representative aspirations.
So instead of totally giving away the game he loved, Ryan became involved off the field.
"Being president is a tough old job," Ryan admitted.
"You have to arbitrate over the fights and there's been some beauties.
"But my philosophy has always been you've got to mend it and put the code first."
Rugby under Ryan on the Far North Coast has flourished.
From a humble beginning with six clubs, the Northern Rivers now boast 14 clubs with teams competing in the newly formed Village Competition and the first grade league.
"I've always been a champion of the small clubs," Ryan said.
"They have the right to play the game as much as anyone."
Ryan was also involved in the setting up of junior rugby in the area with the help of former Ballina coach, and now Eastwood first grade mentor, Chris Hickey.
Last season FNC juniors were the fastest-growing junior competition in the State.
He's helped write submissions for clubs to the Department of Sport and Recreation and he's been instrumental in getting high level rugby games to the area, including visits by NSW Country, Ireland, Queensland and Brisbane Brothers.
For all his efforts he has been awarded an Australian Medal.
You could say, Maurie Ryan has lived for rugby union.