by Terry O’Neill.
Five Forks livestock manager Duncan Kingan’s “other life” complements his day job looking after heifers. Weekends and intervals during the weeks spanning the rugby season, he’s better known as Old Golds rugby manager, a position he’s held for the nine years since his long stint as Valley premier manager.
In May his season begins, and is hands on till competition ends in late October.
“Once Heartland announces the draw, NZRU presides over a conference phone call with all Heartland managers,” Duncan (56) said. “Discussion on the season covers any new protocols and rule changes, and mirrors the ITM setup.” When the Heartland competition launches in late August, for each “away” fixture he contacts the opposition liaison officer to ensure any North Otago pre-match training and warmup requirements can be met.
“The first practice of the season extends to taking individual uniform measurements and generally to indicate management’s expectations of players, on and off the paddock.
Much of Duncan’s responsibility is behind the scene organisation such as flight and booking confirmations and maybe player schedule changes, discussions with the bus driver who meets the team at the airport and with the opposition’s liaison officer, hotel arrivals and any special requirements. Initial accommodation and bus bookings are handled by NORFU CEO Colin Jackson and Murray Pearson respectively.
Last Friday for Duncan dawned at 3.00 am to complete farming arrangements before joining the team bus at 7am in Oamaru to head off to Gisborne via Dunedin Airport. Relaxing was not an option until after phone calls to fine tune Air New Zealand arrangements for the accompanying massive baggage and airport arrival time. On his metal all day, in Gisborne after dinner Duncan assists with strapping and rubbing with team physiotherapist Phillipa Masoe.
“Match day. 8am: light breakfast, 10am: players meet with coaches, 10.30 am: pre-match meal followed by the rubbing and strapping, 12.45pm: team meeting, 1.30pm: arrive at the match venue.” Then Duncan swings into informing media of any player changes, and to seek the referee for warm-ups and inspections of team boots and gear. The team returns to the changing room for their final ten minutes until 2.30pm kickoff.
Once the game finishes, if necessary Duncan organises a doctor for injured players, and within 20 minutes he rings detailed match results to the media.
“At their hotel players, after the game, are reminded what is required of them that evening and of the morning’s home flight arrangements. Before Sunday’s breakfast the players have the “popular” pool session to alleviate bruised and stiffened bodies and soon we’re homeward bound.” After the Poverty Bay game in Gisborne Duncan’s weekend did not finish until he arrived at his Five Fork home about 9.00pm.on Sunday, and this week he’ll face a similar scenario when North Otago is scheduled to play Horowhenua-Kapiti at Levin.
“It fits into my usual job. I’m very lucky with very supportive employers, and while I’m away with the team I keep in touch with what’s happening in the farming area I’m responsible for.”