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Clarke Dermody honoured through new provincial trophy

Tasman Mako coach Andrew Goodman with the new Clarke Dermody Cup at Trafalgar Park, Nelson, which will be played for whenever Tasman and the Southland Stags meet in a first-class rugby fixture.
BRADEN FASTIER / STUFF/NELSON MAIL
Tasman Mako coach Andrew Goodman with the new Clarke Dermody Cup at Trafalgar Park, Nelson, which will be played for whenever Tasman and the Southland Stags meet in a first-class rugby fixture.

By Logan Savory

The Southland Stags and Tasman Mako have a new trophy to play for – the Clarke Dermody Cup.

The two rugby unions have agreed to honour a popular member of both provinces when the Clarke Dermody Cup will be contested for the first time on October 3 in Blenheim.

The hard-working loosehead prop played 90 games for Southland between 2000 and 2007 where he progressed to the All Blacks. He also launched his coaching career in Southland as an assistant coach with the Stags.

Dermody, who was now a key part of the Highlanders coaching setup, admits he was initially wary about the idea when Tasman Rugby Union's commercial and marketing manager Les Edwards approached him.

The 41-year-old later linked with Tasman where he helped the Mako win back-to-back NPC premiership titles 2019 and 2020 as a co-coach with Andrew Goodman.

“When Les rang I initially thought, ‘isn’t that for people who are old or have passed away?’.”

The Southland Stags and Tasman Mako will now play for the Clarke Dermody Cup whenever the two teams met in a first-class fixture. [File photo].
JOE ALLISON/GETTY IMAGES
The Southland Stags and Tasman Mako will now play for the Clarke Dermody Cup whenever the two teams met in a first-class fixture. [File photo].

However, Edwards quickly advised Dermody that both Southland and Tasman officials wanted his name attached to the trophy.

“It's something you would never think would happen. It is pretty cool, and I hope [the rivalry] does grow overtime,” Dermody said.

Then Southland Stags captain Clarke Dermody celebrates with Paul Miller after beating Otago in 2007. [File photo].
BARRY HARCOURT/STUFF
Then Southland Stags captain Clarke Dermody celebrates with Paul Miller after beating Otago in 2007. [File photo].

Dermody said he loved his time coaching Tasman and would always have a soft spot for Southland. Southland was not just where he got a start, both as a player and coach, but it would always be home, he said.

The idea of the Clarke Dermody Cup came about when the Tasman Rugby Union looked at what it could to add to some of its rivalries.

Tasman is New Zealand’s youngest provincial union at just 16 years old and its Edwards said they did not have a lot of trophies up to grabs, as other more established unions do.

Tasman only had the Cook Strait Cup which it played for against Wellington each year. The Cook Strait Cup was previously played between Marlborough and Wellington and has now been repurposed.

Edwards felt Dermody was the perfect person to have a trophy named after him given his standing in Southland, as well as what he did for Tasman as a coach by helping it to two provincial titles.

“I’m just so pleased we are doing this.... He is such a gracious person to accept,” Edwards said of Dermody’s reaction to the idea.

The new Clarke Dermody Cup will be played for between the Southland Stags and the Tasman Mako when the two teams meet in first-class fixtures.
BRADEN FASTIER / STUFF/NELSON MAIL
The new Clarke Dermody Cup will be played for between the Southland Stags and the Tasman Mako when the two teams meet in first-class fixtures.

The Cup will be put up for grabs each time the two teams meet in an official first-class fixture, which includes both regular season and play-off NPC games.Advertise with Stuff

Rugby Southland general manager Steve Mitchell said he was hugely supportive of the idea when it was floated, given just how well regarded Dermody is in both provinces.

Mitchell previously worked for Tasman when Dermody coached there and was aware of his attributes.

“He is a man of few words but through his actions he has a lot of mana. He is held in very high regard.”

Mitchell acknowledged Southland will need to be at the top its game to get its hands on the new Cup, given Tasman was now a powerhouse of New Zealand rugby.

But he said being able to topple the likes of Tasman was where the Southland Stags want to get to.

“I do look forward to the day I can take the Cup off [Tasman coach] Andrew Goodman's desk and put it on Dale [MacLeod’s].” Mitchell said.