New role ‘the ultimate’

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Craig Calder is combining his passion for rugby and business in his new role as South Canterbury Rugby Football Union (SCRFU) chief executive.
Mr Calder, who took on the role seven weeks ago, has brought a range of skills to the job, including a background in marketing.
He was previously general manager of a golf club and regional manager of Autism New Zealand while based in Christchurch, and has also worked as marketing manager for a media organisation, PGG Wrightson and Lynn River.
His sporting background includes the role of Christchurch Rugby Club chairman. The sport had been a part of his life since starting out in the under-8 grade about 50 years ago, he said.
‘‘So to bring business skills and my passion together, it was the ultimate. It is the highlight of my career.’’
Mr Calder, whose role is based at Timaru’s Alpine Energy Stadium, has already put his stamp on the sport locally, after introducing a rippa rugby game as the curtain-raiser to Celtic and Pleasant Point’s final showdown two weeks ago. Celtic beat Pleasant Point 16-10.
SCRFU also had a win on the day when Alpine Energy Stadium had its largest gateand bar-takings, and biggest crowd, Mr Calder said.
Pleasant Point supporters were among those who were out in force, complete with their many banners.
‘‘I’ve never seen such parochial support for a local rugby team,’’ Mr Calder said.
‘‘They came in on Friday to put their banners up. To me it epitomises what grassroots and local rugby is all about, especially when you’ve got a town team and country team.’’
Mr Calder’s new appointment coincides with the start of the Mitre 10 Heartlands Championship, which the South Canterbury Heartland XV started training for last week.
‘‘It’s a team full of exciting prospects at this stage,’’ he said.
The team includes five players from last year’s team and three loan players, from Christchurch.
South Canterbury Heartland XV would have three warm-up games over three weeks, before its first championship game against Buller on August 27 at Alpine Energy Stadium.
Mr Calder was looking forward to the future as he worked towards revitalising South Canterbury rugby and its brand. He would also focus on the commercial aspect of the union, he said.
‘‘Part of my strategic plan is to look at what we’ve done in the past and reinvigorate our commercial partnerships with all the local South Canterbury businesses.’’
South Canterbury rugby, which has a history spanning 128 years, has had a successful season, helped by the 3000 players across the district, and those who have supported them from the sidelines.