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New gym named after star Thames athlete Jack McLean

14 December 2017

The new gymnasium nearing completion in Thames has now been officially named the Jack McLean Community Recreation Centre, after the local boy who went on to be an All Black and play rugby league in England in the 1950s.

Gym floor being laid mid-June 2017

(Photo: The vast main court of the Jack McLean Community Recreation Centre under construction earlier this year.)

The name was confirmed by our Council at its meeting this week. Naming the new indoor sports facility after Jack McLean had the support of key stakeholders in the project, including Thames High School, Ngati Maru, and the Thames Sport and Education Trust.

Jack McLean was born in Thames on 3 October 1923 and went to Thames High School where he distinguished himself as an athlete and rugby player. He represented the school in a variety of sports.*

He served in the military during World War II and during various postings around New Zealand played representative rugby for Auckland, Waikato and Canterbury.

After the war he was a teacher and in 1947 was selected for the All Black tour to Australia. On his return to Thames in 1948 he was again selected for the All Blacks and played the test series against Australia. In all he played five matches for the All Blacks, including two tests, and scored seven tries, playing on the wing.

He then had a successful professional rugby league career for Bradford Northern in England, and in 1955-56 was the leading try scorer. His record as top try scorer for the club (261 tries) still stands.

In 1957 he returned to teaching at Thames High School and coached the first XV until 1967.

The Jack McLean Community Recreation Centre is now on track to be completed by the end of January 2018 and we expect to have an opening ceremony in mid-February.

The opening has been delayed because excess moisture was detected in the ceiling caused by condensation on the underside of the roof structure in cold conditions. A remedial design has been finalised and work has now begun to rectify the issue.

The recreation centre is a joint project of our Council and Thames High School and is sited next to the school's existing gymnasium. Community groups and Thames High School athletes have been competing for court time which hasn't allowed for any growth in local sports clubs.

The new Jack McLean Community Recreation Centre forms a two-court venue that will meet tournament requirements for many indoor sports including netball and basketball. It will also provide a suitable venue for volleyball, badminton, gymnastics, Kiaido Ryu and other sports and recreational activities, allowing them to thrive.

The Jack McLean Community Recreation Centre is part of the Active Thames 2018 group of projects to bring up-to-date sport and recreational facilities to Thames. Other projects include the Thames Powerco Skate Park and proposed multi-club sportrooms at Rhodes Park. For more information go to

*Thanks to Thames High School Principal Dave Sim for the biographical information on Jack McLean.