Since the start of 2013 Ash Carmichael has been a familiar face for both home and visiting team supporters alike at Upper Hutt’s Maidstone Park as the Premier team’s assistant manager.
In his role he helps the 22 players and the coaching and other team staff in the smooth running of match-day operations.
Carmichael will reach his 100th game as part of the Upper Hutt Rams Premier squad in the first round of the Swindale Shield on 23 March when they host defending Jubilee Cup champions Old Boys University at Maoribank Park, their home ground for all 2019 matches.
“I am really proud to achieve my 100 games because not many players or coaches reach this milestone, “ enthused Carmichael.
Carmichael, who has Asperger’s syndrome, was introduced to the Upper Hutt club and to the role while still at school at Upper Hutt College by current Premier assistant coach Paul “Shaggy” Assur who was his school’s PE teacher at the time.
“I started with the 7s that summer, with the Premiers. I thought I was going to do Colts in my first year, so it was an honour to join the Premiers in my first season,” said Carmichael.
“I made by debut in 2013 versus Wests at Ian Galloway Park, and have been with the team ever since.”
Since that time he has ridden the highs of lows of Upper Hutt Rams rugby and has often gone the extra distance to help his team.
“I remember when we played against Avalon in 2013 Ray’s [lock Raymond Sio] boot got ripped and he wasn’t allowed to play without a new one. So I took my boot off and gave it to him and did my duties with one boot. But the players are more important than me!”
Carmichael also recalls the day at the Basin Reserve against Old Boys University in 2016 when Jason Woodward kicked the winning kick in the 20-18 win and as the tee technician he was caught up in the thick of the on-field celebrations that followed.
His help also extends to sevens rugby, part of the successful Rams sevens team that won Wellington American Ambassador’s titles and came close winning the national club sevens tournament at least twice.
Plus representative rugby. “I did the Wellington 7s team, the Wellington Development and the Hurricanes pre-season.”
What does a typical day during the season at Maidstone Park [Maoribank Park in 2019] for the Rams entail?
“If it is a home game my first job of the day is to go to the bottle store to get ice. Then once I arrive at the club mid-morning I get the playing kit out and hang out the jerseys and sort out all the shorts and socks sizes so making sure that a prop doesn’t wear medium shorts and a halfback doesn’t wear 5XL shorts.
“I sort out the drink and the bananas and the ligament and fill up the bottles and the water container. On the field
I help out the coaches getting everything ready for their warm-up drills. Then once the referee blows the whistle to start the game I am busy running water and assisting the players and sometimes doing strapping.”
He treasures his experience working with the Hurricanes last year. “I learnt a lot working with the Hurricanes in their environment and meeting the players. For example Chris Eves introduced himself to me and called me his bro and is a good friend of mine.”
Carmichael is firmly focussed for the future.
“As well as my stint with the Hurricanes, I have been working with a lot of Wellington Lions, Manawatu Turbos and Hawke’s Bay Magpies coaches and they love my work, so hopefully the opportunity arises soon.”
“My goal is to be the assistant manager for the Wellington Lions in the Mitre 10 Cup [men’s NPC competition] and to work more for the Hurricanes. I love rugby so much. I have achieved a lot, but there is a lot I want to do. I have to keep working hard and knock on doors to achieve my dreams.
As well as the Upper Hutt Rams, Carmichael’s other job is working for the Panhead bar in Upper Hutt. Between these two jobs and keeping fit he leads a busy life.
He is also doing this for friends he has lost along the way and to try and aspire others that have similar disabilities. One friend died in a car crash, another of a heart attack and another of cancer.
“Some of my mates have said to me to keep going for yourself and never say you can’t do this because you have got a disability because you can do this and I can turn by disability into my ability.”