Head of rugby pays tribute to Woodbridge stalwart Dick Waterson
“His loss is immense,” four words from head of rugby at Woodbridge Rugby Club, Simon Bennett, that sum up the late Dick Waterson.
The rugby world was rocked last Saturday with the news of the much-loved 67-year-old’s passing, following a battle with cancer.
A former agricultural lecturer born at Earlham Hall, Norwich, in 1944, Dick took a job at Otley College and moved to the area in the early 70s, beginning a long commitment to the club as a second row forward.
In later years, he worked at AC Mutimer Ltd, in Hacheston, and continued to take the field as a veteran at Woodbridge’s Hatchley Barn ground.
A fundraising fixture, named the Dick Waterson Challenge in his honour, raised thousands in recent years for Help for Heroes and Cancer Research, featuring veteran players from across East Anglia.
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Bennett played in the same team as Dick during his first appearance for the club, in 1981, and remembers his former colleague fondly.
“He was one of those affable, great big guys who was never malevolent,” said Bennett.
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“He was popular across the whole of East Anglia as has been proved since his passing and the messages the club has revceived from clubs such as Felixstowe, Southwold and Thorpeness.”
Dick’s impact in veteran rugby can never be underestimated and he ran the Night Owls which came before the veterans’ league and gave older players the chance to take part in rugby whatever the weather.
“The guys would play in rain and snow and they enjoyed it,” recalls Bennett.
“Dick did not do mobile phones, the internet, or e-mails, he would just give you a call and tell you there was a game on and ask if you were available.
“He was a very personal and personable man.
“He encouraged people to play past their sell-by date. He was all about strong, sociable participation in the game and his loss to rugby is immense.”
Dick’s work in raising money for charity was also admirable and he organised two ‘Dick Waterson Challenge’ games, raising thousands in recent years for Help for Heroes and Cancer Research, featuring veteran players from across East Anglia.
“He was still well enough to attend last month’s event at Woodbridge,” said Bennett.
“He was a very generous man and had such a love and enjoyment for the sport.
“He will be sorely missed by everyone.”