Sport | Netball

Legendary netball mentor Robyn Broughton dies

Considered one of the country’s greatest netball coaches, Robyn Broughton is credited with creating the southern dominance of the sport over the past 25 years.

She is best known for leading the Southern Sting to winning seven national titles between 1998 and 2007 and developing some of the great New Zealand players and coaches.

The 80-year-old died this morning after a recent illness.

Former Sting player, and current Southern Steel coach Reinga Bloxham (Ngāti Kahungunu) remembers Broughton as a coach who was ahead of her time and demanded excellence of her players.

“Which is why the teams that she coached were so successful - she just provoked this winningness about her. And anyone who was a part of her team knew that you had to do your job. And you had to do extremely well, so that you were winning, and you had winning habits on the court and also off the court.”

“Loved you as a player but also as a person’

Bloxham first joined the Sting, under Broughton as an 18-year-old. More than 20 years on she says Broughton was influential in shaping her career.

A school teacher by trade, Broughton encouraged Bloxham to consider pursuing a career in the classroom.

“She helped me fill out my application. She encouraged me to be more than I ever thought I could be. She loved you as a player but she also loved you as a person. And I think creating good people was something that she helped many of us do. She was such a great support to many of us on the court and off the court.

“I spoke to one of my fellow Sting players who’s here around the netball courts in Dunedin and we just shared a couple of memories about the things that we remembered about Robyn and it wasn’t the on-court memories. It was those off-court experiences - going back to her house, sitting by the fire, having a bit of a gin and talking about netball and about our lives. So it’s those sorts of stories that many of us have but she was such an inspiration in such a support to so many people.”

On court, Broughton led the Sting for the entirety of the National Bank Cup from 1998 to 2007 reaching the grand final every year, and winning the title seven times. That record put Invercargill, and Southland on the sporting map, Bloxham says.

“We didn’t have much going for us in those days. But she was very creative. And she knew that we had a good bunch of people who could help create this legacy. She was the force and the driver behind that. And she got the community behind her.

“She has held a lot of mana among not only netball people but within our wider community. They just loved her for what she did for our netball game but also for our community.”

With the creation of the trans-Tasman ANZ Championship in 2008, Broughton was appointed coach of the Southern Steel, an amalgamation of the Sting and neighbouring Otago Rebels until 2011. She then joined the Central Pulse franchise. She also served time as the Silver Ferns assistant coach in 2000-01 and led the FastNet Ferns to the world series title of the shortened format in 2010.

In 2004, Broughton was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to netball and the community, and in 2012 was promoted to an officer of the NZOM.

Public Interest Journalism