The highest points-scorer in a North Otago jersey has been awarded life membership of the union.
Paddy Ford (78) was made a life member of the North Otago Rugby Football Union at the union’s annual meeting last week.
Ford was a flanker in his playing days but was not like the loose forwards of the modern era. He was short and solid but went on to play 102 games for the union.
He also kicked goals with some accuracy and ended up with 445 points for the union, which remains the record.
Ford was brought up in Waimate but went to Oamaru in 1959.
He joined the Athletic club and made the third grade side under Ray McLeod.
He rose slowly up the ranks to play for the club in senior grade.
Ford was a member of the Citizens Shield-winning Athletic senior side in 1964 and, in the same year, was selected for North Otago by Ken McLeod, making his debut against Otago Sub-unions.
On the club scene, Ford helped his club to win five Citizens Shield titles.
Ford was in the North Otago side which toured the North Island in 1966 and, over his career, played in three Ranfurly Shield challenges.
While playing, he also took up coaching. He coached the St Kevin’s College First XV and also coached the North Otago under-18 side, the team making the final in 1988.
He coached the Athletic club side to a win in the Citizens Shield in 1978.
He coached a Hanan Shield side in 1990 when it played Australia in Timaru.
Over the next couple of years, he was a selector for Hanan Shield sides which played international teams.
Ford, who worked for 50 years at the Pukeuri freezing works, was not only an accurate placekicker but also scored 25 tries.
He still has a keen eye for the game and is involved in radio commentaries on North Otago Heartland matches where his analytical assessment of the game of rugby is accurate and intelligent.
Ford paid tribute to his wife, Jill, for all her help over the years and her support in whatever he did.