Arrowtown Rugby Football Club was founded in 1889 and was the first club in the Queenstown / Wakatipu district. Arrowtown’s club was the ‘Arrowtown Football Club’ until at least 1950. The name ‘rugby’ was not used in the early years and ‘football’ was only dropped officially nationally in 2006
Until 1925 games were played on a Wednesday afternoon as that was a half day holiday before New Zealand introduced the two-day weekend as standard. Practices were on Tuesday evening and Sunday afternoons. Games were played on what was then called the ‘Recreation Ground’ and is now Jack Reid Park.
For many years, the only two teams in the competition were Queenstown and Arrowtown but in 1905 a team of Catholic players called ‘The Remarkables’ entered the competition.
The victorious touring All Blacks of 1905, ‘The Originals’, did a lot to foster interest in the game. Occasionally games were organised against visiting country teams and with the growth and popularity of the motorcar and better roads the competition was widened to include other Central Otago teams.
There was no rugby played during the World Wars and after World War One the club struggled to field a senior team due to the loss of so many men. With the end of the goldmining, changing farming practices and mechanization, the population of the district was in decline and the club struggled to field teams after World War Two.
In 1950 the club went into recess for 39 long years. Arrowtown School still fielded teams during this period. Beginning in the mid-1980s, the tourist industry and increasing construction trade brought young men back to the district and the Arrowtown team re-emerged stronger than ever with both senior and junior teams.
“…the local [Arrow] team have won the banner and the cup, proving that they are the premier team of the Lake County…” ‘Lake County Press’, issue 2286, 19th August 1909
“The football matches were really good because there was such rivalry between Queentown and Arrowtown. The ladies from Arrowtown would come over with their umbrellas and if the referee was tough, they wouldn’t like it” From ‘Speaking of Change’, oral history project – Mary Lynch
“There really is no game that gives so much scope for the display of true ‘grit’ and true British pluck like the manly old fame of football…” Letter to the Editor from ‘Drop-Kick’, Lake Wakatip Mail, 10th May 1889
Arrowtown Rugby would love to hear your fond memories of the club over the years gone by, so if you have any stories or images you would like to share please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org