Stephen Berg, as most boys of his generation did, grew up playing rugby; his rugby career started barefoot at the age of 5 in suburban Wellington. His family shifted often to follow his father’s career, consequently Berg played rugby in various guises at extreme locations such as Western Samoa, where rugby was played with a stick and Hokitika on New Zealand’s West Coast, where fielding 15 players was a struggle, and games were mostly 10 a side.
Berg’s father Peter came from a family of 4 boys, all played rugby for Kia Toa RFC and Uncle Denis Berg represented Manawatu.
Berg and his brother Matthew enjoyed the rough and tumble of rugby, but also loved poring over the book, Men In Black, and would memorise and test each other on the statistics found within.
Matthew and some friends became so good at their knowledge of rugby, that they have won the Heineken Pub Quiz two Rugby World Cups in a row. Their prize was a trip to the final of both tournaments.
Berg’s rugby career was not destined for greatness thanks to his lack of bulk and a frequently injured left ankle. He retired from the game after representing the Tawa RFC Reserve 4th grade Tongan side for the 1995 season. The team struggled for wins but eventually pulled off an upset over Harlequins who failed to muster 15 players and defaulted.
Berg became involved with the NZ Rugby Museum in 2008 initially as a part time Manager. The role quickly developed into a full time and heavily involved project, moving and redeveloping the museum in time for RWC 2011. Along the way Berg has renewed his rugby knowledge, although it’s not statistics that interest him now. It’s the stories and the sharing of them; it is New Zealand culture and how that has changed alongside rugby’s changes; it is meeting people from different countries and explaining why New Zealanders are so passionate about the game.
Stephen Berg – para
Manager New Zealand Rugby Museum 2008-subsequently Director 2010-present. Berg has curated exhibitions on subjects such as the British Lions, Sevens Rugby and the Bledisloe Cup. He has been instrumental in organising and hosting the world’s first and only conference on the All Blacks jersey and kicked off the first Rugby Jamboree. Berg has assisted with research on First World War, Maori All Blacks and Women’s Rugby.