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The Club

P.K Rhind

Forged in Battle

From The Old Club: The History of the Christchurch Football Club 1863 -2013
Written by Tony Murdoch

In The Official History of New Zealand in World War II 1939 - 1945 makes sobering reading, especially as it reaches the end point with the bitter fighting around Kalamata and the attempt to evacuate in April 1941. The prose is sparse and in a typically New Zealand way underplays what was often brutal and bloody fighting, street by street and man to man. 2nd Lieutenant Pat Rhind of the 20th Battalion played a leading role in this battle, courageously leading his unit through the streets to secure the area for an Allied evacuation. Frustratingly this did not happen and with no ammunition and few other supplies 10,000 troops surrendered. Pat Rhind was to spend the next 4 years as a prisoner of war in Germany and the Official History was to write of Kalamata, “20 Battalion is proud of those who fought at Kalamata, glad that the defiant heroism of Jack Hinton…the reckless courage of men like Alan Jones and the fighting spirit of quiet chaps like…Pat Rhind…so ably upheld its honour in the field.” [Abridged] It is said that only in battle does the inner man emerge and it would be fair to assume that forever after the war had ended Pat Rhind, his character forged in battle, was deeply respected and that in the eyes of his fellow soldiers his achievements in Greece outweighed his rugby deeds.

Just why Pat Rhind joined the Christchurch Club will probably remain a mystery. Perhaps he was encouraged by Tommy Mullan and Bas Taylor, both St Bede’s old boys, who had joined Christchurch in the wake of the great upheaval in 1923 when the Marist club withdrew from rugby en masse. Certainly Rhind would have been encouraged to join the newly formed Athletic Club, the successor to Marist for a time, because he had been in the St Bede’s 1st XV for a season and had drawn praise for his rugged and determined play. This Catholic connection is an interesting aspect of the Christchurch Club’s history because over the years a steady stream of Bedeans made their way to the club. Such was this trend that by 1947 seven of the forward pack were as Ken Allsop says, “micky- doos”. Rhind was captain of this team and in a match against Marist the Christchurch pack was not performing to his expectations. Ken recalled that the half-time talk was a revelation for the use of expletives by Rhind in his closing message before the team went back into action.

“Listen you [expletive] jokers you can [expletive] catch up with these [expletive] tomorrow at mass and have a [expletive] chat, but for now get out there and do some [expletive] work.”

This direct no nonsense message would not be surprising for Rhind had endured a ‘hard war”. An officer, he was 2nd Lieutenant PK Rhind (20th Infantry Battalion) when he was captured in 1941 and posted as missing for some time. He then spent 4 years as a prisoner of war before being repatriated to England in time to be selected in the 2nd NZEF Kiwi rugby team that played 33 matches in the United Kingdom and France and after in the war remained in the army spending time with J Force in Japan.

Born in Lyttelton he was the son of HA Rhind, a well-known sportsman of the time. He was at St Bede’s College for 3 years before leaving in 1931; possibly to work in his father’s Lyttelton based business. Interestingly his uncle, JK Moloney, was a noted sporting personality and briefly President of the CRFU. In 1935 Rhind joined the Christchurch Club and quickly found his way into the senior team. His promise was quickly recognised and he was selected in the Canterbury Colts in both 1936 and 1937, coming into the A team for the first time in the 1937 season as a replacement against the West Coast. In 1938 he played 10 matches for Canterbury and the next year another 9.

He was a strong contender for selection in the 1939 All Black team to tour South Africa playing in two trial games and then being selected in the final trial - often a pointer to final selection. Noted rugby commentator Winston McCarthy writing his book Haka believed that Rhind would have missed the cut in what became known as the ‘team that never was’. This was because World War II intervened and the sole selector Norm McKenzie never divulged his selections. Nevertheless he was close to All Black honours but it was not until 1946 that this distinction arrived when he played 2 tests against Australia.

At nearly 1.83m and around 93kg Rhind was a big man for those years and as a prop was noted for his solid scrummaging, which would have been invaluable in South Africa. He was also energetic in general play. Rhind excelled in services rugby and was a member of the famous Kiwi Army team which toured Britain, France and New Zealand. He doubled as a prop and lock and played in 22 matches, including the unofficial internationals against England, Wales and France.

On his return he took over captaincy of the Christchurch team, playing either at prop or at No 8. He was adept at both positions as the report of the 1947 Town v Country witnessed, in fairly glowing terms it must be said. “The Town team played sound wet weather football…Rhind proved the brains for his hardworking pack and he used wise discretion as to when he should be mixed up in the heavy rucks and when he should stand off the scrum and play the loose game. With every game Rhind is improving in staying power and on Saturday he appeared one of the fittest forwards…Always he did his share in the lineout and he was ever-ready to exploit the lack of knowledge of the finer points of rugby shown by the Country forwards. Clever with his feet, Rhind has also mastered the art of handling the ball no matter the state of it.”

He played again for Canterbury in 1946-47 and after making the 1946 South Island side was in the All Black team which played two tests against the touring Australians. Those were his only All Black appearances. He took his tally of Canterbury appearances to 27 before moving to Wellington midway through the 1947 season. He made the Wellington side for a match against Auckland and that was to be his last of his 68 first class games.

In the years following his retirement he was extensively involved in coaching and selecting. He coached the Christchurch seniors and Canterbury for a number of years and was a South Island and Services selector.

Seasons for CFC:                             1934 -1948
Matches For Canterbury:                               28
Matches For South Island:                               2
Other:                                                            36
Matches For New Zealand:                               2


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