In a celebration of his influence on the rugby union community and the game, emotional tributes have come thick and fast following the death of former NSW Country Junior Rugby Union (NSWCJRU) president John Hamilton.
One of the most-respected figures in the region and beyond, Hamilton lost his battle with cancer earlier this week after years of service at both senior and junior levels.
Tributes have flooded in from players, supporters, coaches, officials - everyone in the rugby community, basically - with one of the most-poignant coming from NSWCJRU's Michael Sutherland, who penned a touching eulogy via the organisation's Facebook page on Monday afternoon.
Sutherland lauded Hamilton's influence on the game, which was nothing short of exceptional, including his work to establish, develop and promote the sevens format and girls' representative sides, along with continuing the region's international tours.
Hammo will be dearly missed by everyone in the rugby community ... he was a wonderful bloke and top-notch administrator.Central West patron Peter Veenstra
As much as anything though, Sutherland simply celebrated Hamilton as 'a leader and great bloke'.
"The rugby world has lost a humble, hard-working, lovable legend of the game," Sutherland's tribute read.
"John was not only an exemplary rugby coach and administrator, he was a loving husband to Viv and a very proud father to Leesa, Harry and Grace.
"He was my mate, mentor and rugby confidant. Right up until the week before he died, I was still talking rugby with him.
"He knew he didn't have long to go but he wanted to know everything that was going on in rugby circles and offering his advice and opinion. He loved it and we loved him for his passion, dedication, humility and wit."
While he was more known for his work at the NSW Country level, he also served as vice president for NSW Junior Rugby Union, Central West Rugby Union patron and former CEO Peter Veenstra also celebrated Hamilton as 'a wonderful bloke' and 'top-notch administrator'.
He fondly recalled one story he said gives an insight into Hamilton's roll-with-the-punches attitude.
"Hammo was a wonderful bloke and a top-notch administrator," Veenstra began.
"He was one of the great supporters of rugby at both the senior and junior levels. He rolled with the punches, he was always looking to be part of a solution rather than focusing on a problem and he did his level-best in every role he held. I have very fond memories of working with him, one story does come to mind.
"He was co-coaching the Central West Blue Bulls colts at the time and we were preparing for a country championship game at Glen Willow (Sporting Complex), in Mudgee.
"It was the first game of rugby played on the ground from memory, too, and I believe it was against Illawarra. Anyway, there's 10 minutes to go until kick-off and Hammo still isn't there, I thought 'this is odd, he's the bloody coach'.
"He lobbed up with the absolute best reason I've ever heard for being late to a game, he just said 'sorry PV, I had a plane crash in my front paddock and had to help the bloke'.
"A plane had crashed in his paddock, I just thought 'I've heard it all now', but that's just how Hammo was. Of course he helped the guy and everyone was okay, but he just rolled with it and still got to the game, we won too."
Veenstra went on the highlight Hamilton's support of the women's game as crucial to its development in the Central West region, Sutherland's tribute did the same in NSW Country terms.
Of course, that was largely inspired by youngest daughter Grace's rapid rise to the top of the game, with Hamilton recognising how important it was to introduce young female players to the 15-a-side game, as well as sevens as other modified formats.
"Hammo, of course, supported women's rugby in a big way and his support of Grace obviously had a lot to do with that. He was enormously proud of her and everyone who knew him knew just how proud he was," Veenstra said.
"I know he was incredibly proud to see her captain the Wallaroos, which I'm not sure anyone predicted because she didn't play her first game until she was in the United States (in 2013).
"Hammo will be dearly missed by everyone in the rugby community, he did a lot for both Central West and NSW Country and he gave his time to the game like people wouldn't believe, and always had the best interests of the game in focus, particularly the players."
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