NT Rugby is celebrating International Women's Day by recognising the incredible lifetime of service from one of its own, former staff member and long-time bar manager Kathy Boyd.
When it comes to Territory rugby, Kathy Boyd has just about done and seen it all.
The 67-year-old boasts more than two decades of managing the bar and head office at Rugby Park – “office for 10 and the bar for about 25 or so, I think” - and has rubbed shoulders with the likes of Eddie Jones, George Gregan and Wendell Sailor.
So, when Kathy tells you she’s got a story, it’s usually two or three - and they're well worth tuning into.
“Eddie Jones used to play at South Darwin back in the eighties and also came up with the team for camp ahead of the 2003 Rugby World Cup,” Kathy said.
“One of my favourite Eddie memories was when he was up in Darwin one time and he got spotted at the old nightclub Fannies – the paper got pictures and ran a headline along the lines of “Eddie loves Fannies!”
“Anyway, I also had to babysit the likes of Lote Tuquiri and Wendell Sailor when they were up for camp and I knew Wendell because my daughter had some photos taken with him when he’d been up earlier with the Broncos.
“So, I went up to him with this photo of him with my daughter and I said ‘listen Wendell, I want to know about this photo’ and he went white as a sheet – I was just stirring him though
“As for Lote, he was going out on a cruise in Arnhem Land and I jokingly told him the crocs would like his legs. Anyway that night on the cruise a croc actually jumped in the boat and landed on his leg – he told me I’d put the mockers on him!”
Tall tales aside, few been as influential in Darwin rugby as Kathy Boyd.
She’s been front and centre for it all – the introduction of the Hottest 7s, the controversial shifts between wet and dry season rugby, countless staffing changes – and remains a familiar face on Friday and Saturday afternoons.
“I still come down at watch the grandkids play – two of them still run around – but I started working here casually all the way back in 1995 before coming on board in 2000,” Kathy said.
“Fred Finch and Dicky Norris knew my husband Jay from rugby league and told me to come and do all the paperwork for $20 because they didn’t want to do it,”
“I was also doing the bar so everyone would come up to me and complain about stuff – I’d just tell them to bugger off or sometimes if they were really whining I’d tell them to take their complaint up with the office manager on Monday and give them my email address!
“But I did it all, I was caretaker – first one in, last to leave, and I just really liked it.”
While she says she’s content watching her grandkids play and catching up with old friends rather than manning the bar or office, Kathy still has strong feelings on the game’s health and how it can be improved.
“We had a lot of development officers come and go from down south – for may the first time they’d been away from home – and I think you’ve just got to understand that we’re Darwin people and Territory people, we’re different to everywhere else.
“We used to have more visitors from Rugby Australia - we had Knuckles (John Connolly) up at Casuarina, Eddie was up obviously, so I'd like to see more of that … and I like to see more emphasis put onto the Australian Rugby Shield,” Kathy said.
“That used to be a massive part of the year and I’d love to see it be a bigger event again.
“We’ve got so much amazing history in NT Rugby and with the Mozzies - amazing jerseys, photos and records – and that’s something we should be celebrating.
“Though last time we hosted it, I was printing out all the match-day programmes (from hospital mind you, I had appendicitis) and accidentally called the South Australian Black Falcons the Black Crows all through the booklet – everyone had checked it and proofread it but I still got Kangaroo Courted”
Kathy remains a font of knowledge, particularly when it comes to Rugby Park operations, and happily reflects on the tough times and the good.
“Yeah there’s always problems – I've watched three generations come through trying to sneak grog in, being rude at the bar, people mucking around … one bloke insisted he wanted to marry me and I just told him the last one who tried died on me.
"Usually they didn't know me if they're rude and they soon found out when I cut them off!
“But I do have to share a favourite story - during that pre-2003 RWC camp me and one of the other girls grabbed a platter and some wines and sat down to watch the boys’ closed training session.”
"So we had George Smith, George Gregan, Lote, Wendell and Matty Rogers, all those boys running around, and they put on a show for us.
"They paraded around with their shirts off all afternoon while I sat up watching with a glass of wine - I was happy as you like!”