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Earl Va’a to Norths
Sydney, 28 December: Late last month it was revealed that former Scots College and Wellington Lions coach Earl Va’a is heading to the Shute Shield in Sydney in 2020:
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🚨 #RUGBYALERT @northsrugby appoint experienced Kiwi coach Earl Va’a to lead the clubs campaign in 2020. The 47-year-old former Samoan Test flyhalf (1999 + 2003 RWC) has a decorated CV after stints the Wellington Lions in the Mitre 10 Cup (2015-2016) and the Coca-Cola Red Sparks in Japan from 2017-2019. Can’t wait to see the Shoremen and Earl in action next year! 🏉💪 #ShuteShield
All Blacks lock Sam Strahan passes away
Palmerston North 23 December: New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has today paid tribute to Sam Strahan, All Black #657 who passed away this weekend.
The lofty 1.94m lock became Manawatu’s 14th All Black when he was first selected for the All Blacks in the ‘Jubilee Test’ against Australia at Wellington’s Athletic Park in 1967. Strahan was selected specifically to pair with the great, late Sir Colin Meads, following the early retirement of Meads’ brother, Stan. Strahan and Meads became a formidable locking duo during a special era for the All Blacks. Strahan played 45 All Black games, including 17 Test Matches.
After retiring from playing rugby, Strahan coached his club team Oroua, and remained active within the club’s administration.
He was made a life member of the Oroua Rugby Football Club in 2002, and from 2003 Strahan was the President of the Manawatu Rugby Union.
Hurricanes lose coach to All Blacks
NZRU HQ 19 December: Jason Holland has been promoted to Hurricanes head coach after John Plumtree’s elevation to the All Blacks coaching team.
Holland, who has been a successful and widely respected assistant coach at the Hurricanes since 2016, takes over his new role with immediate effect.
The 47-year-old has helped the Hurricanes make the Investec Super Rugby play-offs in every season he has been involved with the club, first as an assistant to Chris Boyd and then with Plumtree at the helm in 2019.
The former Manawatu and Taranaki representative enjoyed a successful playing career in New Zealand before he made 102 appearances for top Ireland club Munster between 1999 and 2008.
His coaching career started in Munster before he returned to New Zealand where he was an assistant at Canterbury before moving to the Hurricanes.
Cory Jane, who made 123 appearances for the Hurricanes between 2007 and 2017, and has made a successful move into coaching with the Wellington Lions, has joined the management team as defence coach on an initial two-year contract.
Kafatolu joins Sunwolves
Tokyo 17 December: Petone Rugby Football Club talisman, Wellington club rugby 2009 Best and Fairest winner and Wellington Lions loose forward Mateaki Kafatolu has joined the Sunwolves Super Rugby squad for the 2020 season.
The Sunwolves open their 2020 Super Rugby campaign with a clash against Australia’s Rebels on Saturday, February 1 in Fukuoka
Dilnotts depart WRRA
Wellington 16 December: Long-serving duo Mike and Pam Dilnott are heading off to greener pastures:
New Zealand teams take out South African sevens leg
Cape Town 16 December: The All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens teams are on top of the world having claimed their respective HSBC Cape Town Sevens titles this morning.
Forced to work tirelessly on their way to victory, the teams now sit atop the World Series standings heading into 2020 and the first tournament of the New Year in Hamilton.
For the Black Ferns Sevens, it was their first appearance in Cape Town and their first back-to-back tournaments on the world circuit.
Opening the weekend against hosts South Africa on Day One, the Black Ferns Sevens secured a comfortable victory before being pushed by Fiji and Russia on Day Two. A quarterfinal victory over England was only secured in extra-time, with 18-year-old debutant Mahina Paul scoring the winning try to set up a semifinal against Canada.
After progressing past Canada 15-5, the Black Ferns Sevens faced old foes Australia in the Final. A Player of the Final performance from Ruby Tui, who crossed for two tries, was one of many heroic efforts from the team.
Niall Williams and Kelly Brazier were named in the HSBC Dream Team for their performances over the weekend.
It tops off a big two weeks for the Black Ferns Sevens, after claiming the Dubai crown last weekend and being named New Zealand Team of the Year, while coaches Cory Sweeney and Allan Bunting were named New Zealand Coach of the Year, at the ASB Rugby Awards on Thursday night.
The All Blacks Sevens had finished second in Dubai last weekend and were motivated to go one better to celebrate Sam Dickson’s 50th World Series tournament. Looking strong in pool play, the team progressed past Wales and Canada before closing out the day with a 19-14 win over Argentina.
Kurt Baker and Tone Ng Shiu – who was named the Richard Crawshaw Memorial All Blacks Sevens Player of the Year at the ASB Rugby Awards – both scored twice in the quarterfinal victory against Scotland, with Baker featuring again in a composed 24-7 win over Fiji in the semifinals.
A Final against hosts, South Africa, in front of a 50,000 Cape Town crowd ensured a classic battle. Nil-all at halftime, South Africa broke the deadlock, but the fancy footwork of Ngarohi McGarvey-Black went in under the posts for the 7-5 lead which the team managed to hold.
McGarvey-Black was named Player of the Final, while co-captain Scott Curry was named in the HSBC Dream Team.