A real mainstay of North Harbour Rugby has been rewarded for his hard work and commitment to the sport.
John McKittrick, a loyal supporter of rugby in the North Harbour area has been made a Life Member of the union honouring his work in coaching, managing and administration of the sport.
“John has been one of those people who hasn’t been after glory. He has always wanted his players to improve, to enjoy the game and aim for higher honours where possible. His longevity around the Harbour region has him well-respected and he has made a mark on the career of many players,” said Harbour Rugby Chairman Gerard van Tilborg.
“Becoming a Life Member is just reward for John who has put in a huge number of hours, experience and knowledge to the region.”
McKittrick had success with a variety of teams, but especially the Harbour Colts, Harbour Development, Harbour B’s and North Harbour 7’s which he took to a staggering six national titles.
He was a stalwart of the Silverdale Club and later Mahurangi rugby as well as a long-time manager of the North Harbour NPC side.
For McKittrick there was always more to rugby than, results on the field, coaching and administration.
“There were players who you helped and watched grow. For instance Todd Clever from the United States. I took the USA team to the LA Sevens and he was part of the player pool. I told him to come to New Zealand for foundation work. He ended up living with us for two years and played at Mahurangi and for North Harbour and then Super Rugby in South Africa,” said McKittrick.
“Also Glen Osborne as a 19-year-old came out of Whanganui and lived with us for a couple of years. His career went in a circle. From rugby, to media to being a policeman back in Whanganui. He insisted that I be there for his graduation from Police College. You form bonds with players and those around rugby and that’s what makes the sport and my time in it so special.”
There were also coaching stints around the world including Africa and the United States with their national 7’s side as well as Penguins International Rugby for a number of years.
But having worked with an impressive range of coaches, Mikittrick sites another North Harbour faithful, Paul Feeney as a real standout.
“The most impressive coach I’ve been alongside is Paul Feeney. He can get his message across so easily. He’s worked with Fiji Sevens, been assist coach at the Stormers, and helped Kenya qualify for the Olympics. He has a way about him which is so relaxed and easy and just so impressive in so many ways.”
Along with being a coach who also sought the best from his players McKittrick served in governance and went on to be the vice-President and President of North Harbour Rugby in recent years and established the North Harbour Knights which is an old boys club of former players for the Union.
When it comes to the honour of being made a Life Member of Harbour Rugby, he is completely staggered.
“I’m totalled humbled by the honour. It’s not something I ever set out to achieve or have bestowed on me. It’s surreal taking it in. I’m very grateful to John Morgan and Jerry Hirst for the nominations and the clubs and everyone who got behind the nomination. I started playing rugby when I was six and I’m now I’m 70. I’ve spent 64 years in the game and love it.”
McKittrick becomes the 12th Life Member at Harbour Rugby.