David Gibson, just a month beyond taking on a new role as the general manager of the North Harbour Rugby Union, has been quick to feel the passion of the rugby community, although he may be granted more of a honeymoon before he starts to feel the pressure.
Gibson took over for Brett Hollister, who was in the role for longer than the majority of provincial union rugby chiefs. Given the attention rugby receives in New Zealand, there is perhaps no better testament to his effectiveness than the fact that he was able to stay out of the limelight and quietly go about his business.
North Harbour is the country’s second largest Provincial Union, with over 10,000 registered players, talented players at that.
What little discord there has been was in dwindling home crowds for home games, although North Harbour is not the only PU to have that sort of experience.
Reversing that trend will be one of Gibson’s primary tasks and it does seem as though things in general are on the upswing. The union’s flagship team North Harbour has been resurgent of late, winning the Mitre 10 championship last season, so Gibson is not stepping into complete disarray in any sense.
The sense of the North Harbour fans is one of pride, rather than one of resignation or resentment, so for all intents, it would seem as though Gibson’s timing in spot on.
He knows that a successful top side is important, but a willingness to listen and perhaps more visibility that his predecessor will be a good direction for him to take.
This year’s Mitre 10 opener on August 17 against Otago at QBE Stadium might provide Gibson with the perfect coming out party. There is also a fixture in September, a game with Auckland, that is generating anticipation for North Harbour supporters. Gibson enthusiastically recalls his days playing in that fixture.