The Marist St Pats community congratulates and acknowledges two outstanding club stalwarts, David Gray and John Duignan, who were awarded Life Membership at the 2018 Annual General Meeting. Their nominations are in full below.
David was educated at St Pat's College in Wellington where he was a member of the 1st XV. On leaving school, he played for the St Pats Old Boys club, for teams that won the under-20 championship grade in 1963, and gained promotion to senior B in 1965. An accomplished second-five and winger, he also coached lower grades at SPOB.
He was also an outstanding cricketer, coming close to Wellington honours as a fast bowler and batsman.
David playing a prominent role in the newly formed Marist St Pats. He was the club's first treasurer in 1971, the year the club was formed. He held that role until 1974 and then became chairman for three years, 1975-1977.
He became the club's delegate to the Wellington Rugby Union in 1989 and became chair of the WRFU in 1993, having been deputy chair for three years before that. He was to head the union until 1995, ushering in a series of administrative changes. The resulting management structure, with its board and club delegates' board, is still in place today.
It was a challenging time for rugby and Wellington rugby in particular. Not only did the game turn professional in 1995, but Athletic Park was falling apart and proving a huge drain on the union's coffers. David became instrumental in steering the WRFU to its new home ground at the waterfront stadium.
In 1997, David became chief executive of the Westpac Stadium Trust, a position he held for 16 years until his retirement in 2013.
He's retained close links with Marist St Pats over the years, as a Shamrock Club member, a donor and a sideline supporter of the premiers at Evans Bay.
His considerable management and strategic skills were utilised in recent years when he led a group of former MSP chairmen who reviewed the club's governance and operations. In 2016, David presented the group's 10-year strategic plan for Marist St Pats.
David's outstanding record as an administrator and his loyalty to MSP since the club was founded make him a worthy recipient of life membership.
John joined MSP in the late 1970s after leaving St Pat's College in Wellington. A lively and energetic halfback, he played for several seasons and was a member of the 1979 J1 team that won the Paul Donoghue Memorial Trophy.
After two years overseas in 1980 and 1981, John resumed his rugby at MSP and played three premier games in his last season in 1986.
Once he stopped playing, he immediately took up coaching. He and Joe Cuccurullo coached the J1s in 1987 and 1988. One cold muddy night on the training fields at Evans Bay, JD was giving the team a talk in a huddle when a beautiful woman in a white dress and high heels strode across the darkened ground, interrupting the huddle to give John a huge kiss. The team was highly amused but no one knew who she was. Even his brother Tom who was in the side didn't know. It was of course, Robyn Jackson, who had just returned from overseas and John was to subsequently marry in 1989.
That was the year John and his good friend Phil Wanden managed a colts' team to Australia. In the four years 1990 to 1993 he coached under 19 and colts' teams with Joe Cuccurullo and Tony Horan. JD collected awards in 1991 as outstanding non-office bearing club member in 1992 as outstanding club member.
In 1995, John graduated to senior coaching, taking on the senior 1Bs with Greg Cummings. In 1996 and 1997 it was the senior 2s and premier reserves with Harry Vekula. Robyn was also putting a lot of work into the club at this stage, winning the Brother Fabian Cup in 1997 for outstanding contribution of unobtrusive service.
In 1998 John was premier coach with Gus Smith as his assistant; in 1999 he was assistant to Peter Russell when MSP won the Swindale Shield and Jubilee Cup. In 2002, 2008 and 2010 John was senior 1 coach with Tony Meachen and Dave McGuinness, and in 2011 it was back into premier coaching with Clayton McMillan.
This record of working with so many other MSP coaches over the years is testament to John's ability to get on well with people and form good coaching teamworks.
His wealth of coaching experience was recognised in 2009 when John became MSP's coaching coordinator, a position funded jointly by the club and the WRFU. It was a position he held for the next four and a half years as he worked across the junior club, the college and the senior club to promote Marist rugby. He set up many programmes and processes that the club still uses today.
He has also for many years been a member of the club's rugby sub-committee, the group that deals with the nuts and bolts of coaching, selections, training and fitness programmes and so on. He's still on that committee, continuing an outstanding history of nearly 40 years' service to Marist St Pats.
The club has been fortunate to have had such a dedicated and hardworking club member who has contributed so much to the development of teams and individual players. JD has truly earned his nomination to the ranks of MSP's life members.