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Job well done . . . The North Otago Rugby Union's newest life members, John Tito and Bill Dean, with the spoils of last year's Heartland season. PHOTO: GUS PATTERSON

The North Otago Rugby Union has celebrated a successful year on and off the field.

At the union’s annual meeting on June 10, chief executive Colin Jackson revealed a $48,000 profit, a significant improvement on the previous year’s $23,630.

The union’s income had fallen by $47,000 compared with the year before, but Jackson said that was something that fluctuated from one year to the next.

The union had made a big effort to reduce costs and minimise spending “that was not adding value to our core business” in 2019, Jackson said.

“A lot of thanks goes to the Heartland management, who cut a lot of expenses around the away trips.

“The players were making their own breakfasts, and travelled home the day of some games rather than staying an extra night.”

The austerity measures clearly did the Heartland team no harm, as it won every trophy it had the opportunity to last year, apart from the Ranfurly Shield.

“It was a fantastic year,” Jackson said.

“We put the focus on our local players, and put some pride back in the jersey.

“For a little union, I think our record is fantastic.”

At the meeting, the Heartland team’s co-coach, Jason Forrest, accepted the Otago Sports Awards team of the year trophy, the first time it had been given to a North Otago team since 2010, when the North Otago Cricket team won the Hawke Cup.

North Otago Rugby chairman Warren Prescott also paid tribute to a year to “never forget”.

“To achieve a sound profit for the second year in a row reflects a lot of smart management by the staff at the union and fiscal prudence has become a board priority,” Prescott said

“On the field, men’s, women’s and junior club rugby was supported with good numbers and the usual rivalries.

“Heartland Rugby was simply wonderful .. our team just got better and played smarter.

“The trophy cabinet is full and our warmest congratulations go out to our management and players who put a huge smile back on the faces of everyone in the North Otago rugby community.”

Two North Otago stalwarts were given life membership to the union.

John Tito was recognised for 44 years of playing, coaching and administration, while former union chairman Bill Dean was recognised for his efforts on a national level.

The Citizens Shield club competition is set to start on June 27.