Ranfurly Shield winner Noel Dennison passes

Courtesy Timaru Herald

1974 Ranfurly shield winner Noel Dennison (centre) passed away on Monday.

1974 Ranfurly shield winner Noel Dennison (centre) passed away on Monday.

Waimate’s Noel ‘Tiger’ Dennison will be remembered as uncompromising forward with a big ticker who didn’t mind taking on All Blacks.

He played 53 games for South Canterbury from 1974 to 79, in one of the best eras for the “green and blacks”.

Dennison passed away on Monday after a long illness.

Dennison’s second for South Canterbury was the successful Ranfurly Shield challenge against Marlborough.

His first was marking All Black Frank Oliver in the line-out against Southland.

A year later another All Black Gary Knight broke his jaw with a king hit when they played Manawatu.

Dennison tried to play on but packing the scrum just became too painful.

Team-mate Noel Glass said Dennison was a tremendous bloke, the “ultimate team man.”

“I remember Tiger’s first game coach Jim Dawson told him to push Frank Oliver in the back when he went up in a lineout.

“Not too many players would be game to do that with the fall-out that followed,”

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Glass said no matter how daunting the task Dennison would do for the team.

“it wasn’t easy as we were playing in the first division for two years.”

Dennison played both at prop and lock for South Canterbury.

Glass said he was a big strong forward, with a great physique, who would not be out of place in today’s game.

“He was really physical and could do some damage as he had such a big ticker.”

“I think Noel just frustrated Gary Knight so much that day as he could not get on top of him, that he lashed out.”

“He broke Tiger’s jaw but even then he didn’t want to go off.”

Dennison also became part of South Canterbury rugby folklore for writing the left-right scrum calls on his hand so he got things exactly right.

Glass said there may have been a little bit of truth in that.

The NZ Rugby Almanack describes Dennison in 1975 as “6 foot 3 inches (1.90m) and 17 stone 2 pounds (109kg).”

“He was powerful either at prop or when required at lock and he deserved his selection as a prop in the South Island team.”

Waimate club captain Tony Stevenson said Dennison was a fantastic bloke.

“He was the ultimate team and club man.”

Playing well over a century of games, for Waimate he then helped with coaching after retiring, Stevenson said

“Noel was one of four from Waimate who had the honour of playing first division rugby along with Duncan Bell, Milton Bailey and Mervyn Hynes.”

“He was a larger than life character, a big figure with a huge passion for the game.”

Stevenson said Dennison was one of the true legends of Waimate rugby.

“Later on because of his illness he never got down to the ground as often as he wanted, but whenever he was there he loved it.”

Dennison son Reece also played lock for Waimate, he said.

The funeral for Noel Dennison will be held at the Waimate Stadium, Paul St, on Friday at 12.30pm.