A long history
The Centurions Rugby Football Club has been in Wellington for over 80 years. It is membership by invitation to those who have made a significant contribution to rugby through playing, coaching, refereeing or administration.
In the early part of the 1939 Wellington rugby season two well known Capital rugby personalities discussed the formation of a club along the lines of the Auckland Barbarians. The two men were James Prendeville and Gerald “Sandy” Hill Weir. The initial meeting was held at the office of the Rugby Union on 5 July 1939 and the original members were elected at a meeting held later in July. It was agreed that affiliation be sought with the Union when colours and a suitable name had been established.
On 17 August 1939 it was resolved that the club be known as the Centurions Rugby Football Club.
In the early 1950s, despite administrative difficulties, the club played many first class games including a narrow loss to Wellington B in 1951. In this match playing for the Centurions was World War II hero Keith Elliot VC – almost certainly the only first class appearance of a WWII VC winner.
In 1952 another memorable trip to Nelson was had and although the Centurions lost, an excellent coaching clinic was held at Nelson College with contemporary super star Ron Jarden absolutely surrounded by schoolboys throughout the session.
The latter part of the 1950s saw the club thrive, with the first Colts side selected in 1957 to play against the WRFU 3rd grade reps. In 1958 it was a coup for the club when at the end of the season they fielded a side containing the NZ U23 tourists to Japan and Hong Kong in a match at Athletic Park beating the reps 14-13. All but two of the Centurions side were or were to become All Blacks, and of the Wellington side current Centurions Mick Williment, Bill Fleming, Ron Horsley, John Sage, Ivan Vodanovich and Peter Lally lined up to play against the Centurions. Colin Meads appeared in the Club’s colours for the second year in a row.