AS a rugby union fly-half in the late '60s for Randwick, Tom Towers lit up a backline with his "soft hands" and "straight running".
He would enact the same influence as a coach at Wanderers with a simple but effective message: "run with your feet, pass with your hands".
Off the field, the man known as Tommy would light up a room with his infectious smile, roaring laugh and hand signals.
Hunter Rugby Union said farewell to one its most popular servants at a packed Sacred Heart Cathedral on Monday. Towers died last week , aged 80, after a long battle with illness.
The son of champion Wallaby, Cyril, rugby - specifically running rugby - was ingrained in Tommy from childhood. He wore the No.10 for his beloved Galloping Greens, represented Victoria against the All Blacks before settling in Newcastle and joining Wanderers, where he would play, coach, serve as president and be awarded life membership. His sons Chris, Sam, Peter and Ben played for the club. Tommy was also a referee.
"Tommy was an advocate of classic, running rugby," Wanderers stalwart and fellow life member Andrew Macansh said. "He always said to me you run with your feet and pass with your hands. He was against kicking the ball. It didn't matter where you were on the field, you ran it. That was a legacy from his father, Cyril. He passed that on to so many young kids. Not just first-graders but lower-grade players as well. If you get your hands right it will all come to you. He was so right."
Off the field, Tommy was a gregarious character, who loved nothing more than watching and talking rugby.
"When a new player came to the club they felt so welcomed. Tommy was there to embrace you and welcome you." Macansh said.
"Tommy would light up the after-match functions with his rendition of "Alouette". That song used to lift everyone. He was a true gentleman, a fantastic bloke and much loved life member. "
As well as his love for rugby, Tommy was a keen golfer, tennis player, surfer, swimmer, choir singer and St Vincent De Paul volunteer.