'Old Vic' Cavanagh (1874 - 1952)
and 'Young Vic' Cavanagh (1909 - 1980)
Caversham's 'Professors of Rugby'
Cavanagh was the son of a Northern Irish
boilermaker, who spent all his working life
in the clothing trade. He worked for Ross
and Glendining for 58 years, managing its
clothing factory from 1915-46. But it was
as a rugby genius that Cavanagh won fame
on the Flat. He was the first captain of
the Southern Club, following the amalgamation
of the Caversham and Pacific clubs in 1899.
That year he represented Otago against Southland,
the only representative match he ever played.
It was as a coach that Cavanagh made his
reputation. After three premierships with
his old Southern Club between 1904 and 1915,
he came out of 'retirement' to coach University
A. Between 1923 and 1934 his Varsity teams
were the Dunedin champions ten times. In
the latter years Southern was coached by
his son, also Vic and consequently known
as 'Young Vic'. The fierce battles between
Southern and Varsity attracted huge crowds,
especially when they were played at Carisbrook.
The two Cavanaghs joined forces to coach
Otago and in 1936 held off eight challenges
to retain the Ranfurly Shield. Their tactical
innovations, especially the rugged forward
play proved highly successful. Rucking became
a defining feature of New Zealand rugby
largely through their influence.
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