74-year-old Barry Clausen will take to the field at the Bunnings National Touch Championship in Christchurch next week as the oldest recruit in the competition.
Ngā Puna Wai will host the National Championship for the first time from Thursday, 15 April to Sunday, 18 April.
“I don’t have a problem or think about the age gap when playing against younger players,” says Mr Clausen, who will play in the over-55s Canterbury mens side.
“I think the secret to my success and fitness is setting goals and staying motivated.
“It’s also exciting to be playing in my hometown for the Nationals, and Ngā Puna Wai is a great venue. Christchurch has always had a certain friendly, welcoming vibe.”
Mr Clausen, who still works 30 hours a week as a cleaner, played his first touch game 23 years ago.
“I played rugby from a young age and through the grades, along with athletics, cross-country and road racing, judo, masters rugby and masters rugby league,” he says.
“And I am still playing league.”
With more than 70 teams in action over the four days, the national tournament will draw thousands of competitors – including past and present Touch Blacks – and supporters from across the country.
In total, 1200 players – with the youngest 16 – will contest the Under-21, Open or Masters titles.
Christchurch City Council Recreation and Sports Services Manager, David Bailey says that the event “puts Christchurch in the box seat to showcase Ngā Puna Wai and the city’s attractions to a national audience”.
“It promises to be an exciting four days as our top touch players descend on the city,” he says.
“It’s also a great opportunity to promote the city – and all that it offers – to our visitors.”
Ground entry is free, with 13 fields in play, along with on-site food vendors and bouncy castles and face painting to entertain the younger spectators.
Teams from the Masters grades will be centre stage from Thursday until Saturday, while the Open and Under-21 sides will vie for honours from Friday until Sunday.