Wigan to host its own cross-code challenge before Christmas when St Pats and Wigan RU meet in memory of Ronnie Dutch
The town is set to stage its own cross-code match when Wigan RUFC and St Pats clash '“ in memory of popular stalwart Ronnie Dutch.
They will play half a match under each set of rules in a match which is expected to be a huge hit with supporters.
And at the end of the 80 minutes, the winners will lift the inaugural Ronnie Dutch Memorial Trophy – which is named after a man who made such a big impression at both clubs.
Douglas Valley will stage the event on December 22, but the plan is to make it an annual match between the two clubs.
Money raised with go to MacMillan Cancer Research.
Dutch passed away in April and Chris Smith, a member of Wigan RU’s executive committee, says his loss is still being felt.
“Ronnie was a much-loved and respected member of Wigan RUFC,” said Smith. “He was instrumental in all aspects of the club and coached at both junior and senior level.
“He was key in setting up the now much-acclaimed junior section and coached the league-winning second team, before promotion to head coach of the club.
“Ronnie fully embraced all aspects of the club, and off the field he could be found offering advice on both rugby and indeed all aspects of life.
“He approached everything he did with 100 per cent commitment and will live forever in the memory of everything and everyone associated with Wigan RUFC.
“A day didn’t go by when Ronnie didn’t light up the room with his infectious smile and personality, he is sadly missed by all at the club.
“When Richard Buckley (first-team boss) first mooted the idea of a cross-code game there wasn’t one person who questioned the idea.
“To recognise and remember the legacy left behind by Ronnie, at both of these great Wigan clubs, is an idea embraced by all and there are many who have displayed such determination and drive to bring the idea to reality.
“The same determination and drive we saw in Ronnie each and every day.
“The Ronnie Dutch Memorial Trophy is a game that will be played every year to ensure his memory lives on.
“Our love, thoughts and prayers go to Jacqui, Aaron, Aimee and all of Ronnie’s friends and family. Ronnie is discussed every week at Wigan RUFC and we still struggle to come to terms with how such a small man can leave such a big hole in the lives of everyone who had the pleasure and privilege of knowing him. God bless Ronnie.”
Dutch had a 40-year association with St Pats as a player, coach, team manager and committee member. He even registered himself as a player last season – at the age of 57.
Wigan St Pat’s chairperson commented Cath Taylor said: “When Richard Buckley from Wigan Rugby Union first approached us about his ideas for the event, and we discovered it was in memory of Ronnie Dutch, the decision was obvious.
“To see both codes working together to achieve this is testament to the impact Ronnie had on both clubs. We are looking forward to the challenge.”
The game will kick-off at 1pm and there will be a barbeque at Douglas Valley.
Wigan RLFC famously met Bath in a cross-code challenge, over two matches, in 1996 and St Helens later played Sale Sharks in a single match, with different rules in each half.