Wayne Urquhart (left) will be farewelled next Saturday only a few weeks after being elected the Auckland Rugby League's new chairman. Image | www.photosport.nz

Farewell for Wayne Urquhart

Just weeks after becoming the Auckland Rugby League’s new chairman Wayne Urquhart will be farewelled next Saturday after tragically losing his life while diving at Opito Bay north of Whitianga on December 23.

A celebration of his life will be held in the Tasman Room at Alexandra Park in Greenlane, Auckland, starting at 2.00pm on January 9.

After five years as an ARL board director, Urquhart was elected chairman on November 14 replacing Dene Biddlecombe.

The Auckland rugby league community has been left shocked by his death at the age of 60.

His involvement in the game spanned 50 years. Starting out by playing the game he later took up refereeing and went on to become the chairman of the Auckland Rugby League Referees’ Association. As well as being chairman of the Ponsonby Rugby League Club’s trust, he was the Akarana Zone’s chairman and was on the Carlaw Heritage Trust.

Urquhart was passionate about good governance starting at the top right down to the grassroots and was especially conscious of the contribution volunteers make to the game.

On being elected the ARL’s new chairman, Urquhart said: "I feel so very humbled to have received the level of support I have from our clubs.

"I feel very positive and believe there is plenty of opportunity to do some things a little bit differently going forward.

"My vision is to evolve and build the Auckland Rugby League clubs, to make our game even stronger and to improve the capability of grassroots clubs to deliver greater value to their players and whanau; which in turn translates into the capability of Auckland league to improve and grow stronger.

"There is enormous good will among our clubs. They focus on their week-by-week, day-by-day activities in putting competitive teams out onto the footy pitches. Our job at the Auckland Rugby League is to make the lives of club administrators as smooth and as comfortable as possible."

Urquhart is survived by his wife Jo, daughter Nicole and son Steve.

Urquhart’s passing follows the deaths in November of former Auckland Rugby League and Auckland Warriors chairman Peter McLeod and former Kiwis Jack Fagan and Rex Cunningham while on Boxing Day the game lost promising 17-year-old Tala Mailei. Mailei, who had been training with the Vodafone Warriors’ wider NYC squad since November, will be farewelled in Christchurch next week with a family service on Monday (January 4) followed by a funeral on Tuesday (January 5).