Tony Sinkovich was made a Barbarian earlier this year, joining several other members from west Auckland’s Waitemata club, among them Peter Tubberty, Sir Michael Jones, Brent Semmons, John Hart, Wally Jelicich and our President Bernie Allen.
“To be invited to join a club that many of my heroes from days gone by are in is actually quite an honour,” says Sinkovich.
“The nice thing about it is that you don’t have to be a top-line rugby player to be a member of the club. It’s what you put into the game itself. I feel my membership has come from that area over 40-odd years. To me, the Barbarians’ philosophy is about growing the game, so it’s quite an honour.”
Sinkovich, known as ‘Sinky,’ was made a life member of the Waitemata club in 2012 after many years’ service as, among other roles, coach of the Under 21s and through all the junior grades, manager, president, chairman. He is still involved boots and all in any fundraising events the club may pursue, and is looking forward to the club’s centennial in 2027.
“I wouldn’t have given up what I’ve done for anything,” he says.
Not many Kiwi rugby people can say they helped grow the game in Peru, of all places, but Sinkovich can.
Despite limited Spanish, his work in the avocado business took him to the South American nation, better known for the round ball code, where the national team is ranked No 72. He spent four winters coaching the men’s and women’s teams at the Jaguares club in Trujillo, falling into the role quite by chance.
“All they needed was some good coaching and developing a game plan, getting them properly fit,” he says. “I fell in love with the people.”
The men won the North Peru championship three straight years, while Sinkovich helped out financially and with coaching the referees, while bringing kit and equipment over from Auckland and Waitemata. There were some huge travel hauls just to get to away games. We don’t know how lucky we are here.
One of the highlights was taking some of the players to Argentina to watch an All Blacks training session when they were touring there.
Welcome to the Barbarians, Tony.