Tears flowed for rugby stalwart

TRIBUTES mixed with tears yesterday at the funeral of prominent Mid North Coast Rugby referee Steve Taylor.

Just a few weeks after he held the whistle as Coffs Harbour under-19s defeated Port Pirates in the zone grand final, the self-confessed rugby tragic was farewelled at Innes Gardens Memorial Park Crematorium in Port Macquarie after his sudden death last week.

Among those paying tribute was NSW Country Rugby Union executive director Terry Woodward who expressed the shock and sadness in the rugby community as news of Steve’s passing spread far and wide.

“Steve was a long-time member of the Mid North Coast referees association and highly respected within the country union,” he said.

“He was a past president of the association and a driving force in the recruitment of referees with his focus on the development of younger officials.

“Nobody was more passionate towards the game of rugby.”

Premiership-winning Coffs Rugby captain-coach Dr Paul Butcher shared the field with Steve on plenty of times and despite their occasional professional disagreements, spoke of the stunning loss to the game.

“He was a very fit man and only in his early 50s,” he said.

“It’s a very, very sad loss.”

Before becoming a referee, Steve was a prominent player and foundation member of Hastings Valley Vikings.

He played four years with the club before retiring in 2000 to become a match official.

But his heart was always with that one outfit, remaining an officer and sponsor for many years.

Just a few hours after he’d refereed his final match, the Vikings upset the Pirates to claim a maiden first grade title, and he was seen cheering the victors as happily as any player.

Steve Taylor was an active sportsman away from the rugby field, with his other main sporting activities being cycling and surf life saving with a number of regional organisations.

A respected member of the Hastings business community, he operated Carpet Court Design Carpets for many years.

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