WINNER: Jeremy Sutherland presents West Coast captain Troy Tauwhare with the new Coalpit Trophy.
South Canterbury rugby historian Jeremy Sutherland loves both statistics and a good yarn.
So when he worked out South Canterbury had been playing West Coast for 101 years without a trophy at stake he decided to remedy the situation.
Sutherland said he often discussed anomalies in the trophy cabinet with his late father, Tom, and when they worked out the Heartland neighbours (across the Southern Alps) had meet 27 times without any silverware they decided to donate a trophy.
On Saturday Sutherland presented the new Coalpit Trophy to West Coast captain Troy Tauwhare after their 30-25 win, on behalf of his family. The rugby historian is a staunch supporter of the “green and blacks” and had hoped the new trophy would stay in Timaru.
“The odds were it would, West Coast have never ever beaten us twice in a row before.”
Sutherland said there were also some connections between their family name and the coast.
“My father attended St Andrew’s College and the only other Sutherland was Barney.
“His father ran a chain of jewellery shops on the coast and Barney continued them until the 90s, but he is best known as a driving force behind Shanty Town.”
Sutherland explained Barney also put a Sutherland’s jewellery shop in the West Coast attraction but the shop colours were green and black.
“My father asked about the colour scheme and the explanation was West Coast’s colours of red and white would have made it look like a barber’s shop, which delighted dad.”
The other connection his family had was coal.
“It might surprise people but there were a number of coal mines in South Canterbury and the best known was the Albury pit, run by Coasters, but it closed two years after my father bought a nearby farm.”
Sutherland said the third connection was Jim Fraser, whose father ran the Albury general store.
“Jim represented South Canterbury in 1942 and then after the [Second World War] played for Wellington and then the West Coast.”
He eventually retired to Blenheim and was elected president of the New Zealand Rugby Union in 1980, Sutherland said.
The Coalpit Trophy is made from cherry wood, sourced from Albury, with the model of a one-tonne coal truck on top. Sutherland said his only disappointment was he never got a chance to “bless it”at the Albury Tavern as it was only finished the evening before the game.
“It went west too quickly but I’m backing the boys to get it back next season, so we can do it then.”