Cancer care campaigner Blair Vining honoured by rugby greats at Southland game

Some of New Zealand's biggest rugby names have taken to the field today to thank those who have supported the Southland Charity Hospital.

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The friendly match, intended to thank those raising funds to build a charity hospital, took place a year on from Vining’s death. Source: 1 NEWS

The local community gathered to watch and honour the man behind it, Blair Vining, a year on from his death. 

A Blair Vining Invitational 15 won against an ITM invitational team in Invercargill this afternoon, scoring 52 points to ITM's 17.

“Today is really about thanking the Southland and Otago community for all the support that they have given the charity hospital to date and also to mark his one year,” said Vining’s widow and cancer care campaigner, Melissa.

Some of rugby's biggest names got the call up to attend the game, with former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry appointed as coach.

“It's a very serious event as far as the rugby is concerned," Sir Graham said. "I think they just need to make sure they walk off the field in good condition.” 

Boxing star Joseph Parker was in the ring against him, having stepped up to coach the other team.

“I have a game plan in my head so hopefully it works,” he said earlier today.  

For former Alll Black Corey Flynn it was personal.

“I played rugby with and against Blair back in the day when we were just young fellas so they just asked me to get involved and, I mean, Blair and Melissa are both household names in New Zealand now so to be a part of it is pretty special,” he told 1 NEWS.

Close to 7000 were in attendance and already $1.7 million has been raised for the Southland Charity Hospital.

“We've had a huge number of tradespeople put their hand up to come and help us with the rebuild," Melissa Vining says. "Demolition is set to commence in November. I'm looking forward to getting a sledgehammer in my hands and helping the guys out."