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Short Passes 7 September (news in briefs to start the week)

One week to play before the end of the round-robin club rugby season. Will Marist St Pat’s blitz the Wellington Axemen and win the Swindale Shield outright? Will it be shared or will Norths, OBU or even fourth placed Petone come through to win or share the first round spoils?

There is also the matter of the top 4 Jubilee Cup semi-final spots to be decided, with Tawa and Hutt Old Boys Marist added to the mix.

Premier games at a glance this coming Saturday are:

Draws and Results HERE
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This Saturday also sees the finals of the U85kg competitions. Top qualifiers the Upper Hutt Rams host Eastbourne in the Division 1 Paul Potiki Shield final, while Wellington and Marist St Pat’s contest the Division 2 Tony O’Brien Shield.

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In school rugby, Aotea College have one more defence of the Beard Trophy for the year, against Tawa College. It is understood that this won’t be a mid-week match this Wednesday but will be played in the regular slot at 2.30pm on Saturday. To be confirmed.

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The Men’s and Women’s NPC season starts for Wellington’s teams this coming weekend too, the Wellington Lions taking on Waikato in Hamilton at 2.05pm and the Wellington Pride playing Tasman in Blenheim at 1.00pm.

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Had Johnsonville taken down Swindale Shield leaders Marist St Pat’s on Saturday, where would that have ranked on the list of upsets in recent years in Premier rugby?

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Congratulations again to the latest batch of club milestone achievers, headed by Poneke’s Ben Huntley who joined the 200 club. Others reaching milestones over the past weekend were Wainuiomata’s Greg Lealofi who became their second player to reach 150 in recent weeks, and new centurion Jacob Gooch (Petone).

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Old Timers’ Day this coming weekend will be special one for Poneke as both the club’s Premiers and Premier Reserves will be wearing the club socks of Irishman Cormac Ryan who played with the club for a number of years but tragically lost his life earlier this year. He was a huge social figure and a great member of our club.

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Club Rugby wishes friends and family of former Wellington Axemen player Ben May all the best, following his sudden death last week, whilst working at a gym instructor at Synergy Gym [where Club Rugby used to be a swim member at]. May played eight games for the Axemen’s Premiers in 2017, including two starts on the wing, and played for the Old Boys University Premier Reserves in 2018 and had been recently been training with the Billygoats.

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Schoolboys playing in Premier club rugby isn’t exactly a common thing, but St Pats Town’s Herman Seumanufagai made a good fist of his debut on Saturday, bagging a brace of tries off the bench for Ories against Wellington. Seumanufagai would probably have rather preferred to be playing for his school’s 1st XV, but the imposition of NZ Rugby’s new age band policy this season has seriously limited his opportunities to turn out for his school. He made his debut alongside his two brothers, Ronaldo and Jason.

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Old Boys University had 10 players on representative duties on Saturday. How many of those players would retain their places in the OBU team that thrashed Wainuiomata 47-11 at William Jones Park? The Billygoats traditionally struggle to beat Wainuiomata but were clinical in Round 12. By contrast the Wellington Lions were beaten.

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St Mary’s College beat Hastings Girls’ High School 27-10 (halftime 12-5) in their Hurricanes region semi-final on Friday. St Mary’s now go on to play Manukura in the Hurricanes Girls Final for the Rex Kerr Cup – date and venue to be confirmed.

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Should there be a stand-down period for players who move clubs during the season, or at least after the halfway point? While it’s always been something of an issue, it was perhaps brought a little more into focus with Malo Manuao and Alex Ropeti forming the midfield duo for OBU on Saturday, having moved to the title-chasers in the past couple of weeks from mid-table Ories.

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Quality chat concerning the shift of Alex Ropeti from Ories to OBU: “Bro did you move ’cause you couldn’t make the women’s side?”

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The last Wallabies team to win on Eden Park was in 1986. The coach was Alan Jones. Check out his show on Sky News to appreciate what a scary halftime speech looks like.

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WRFU have confirmed the following dates and venues for the Club Sevens programme in November 2020.

  • Saturday 7 November: WRFU American Ambassadors Sevens Series – Tournament One; Onepoto Park
  • Saturday 14 November: WRFU American Ambassadors Sevens Series – Tournament Two; Maidstone Park
  • Saturday 21 November: WRFU American Ambassadors Sevens Series – Tournament Three; Maidstone Park

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👨‍✈️ After trailing for the best part of 65 minutes, it was captain Andrew Wells who crossed the line and slotted the conversion to reclaim the lead and steal the victory #RedMachine

Posted by Marist St Pats Rugby Football Club on Saturday, 5 September 2020

 

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From the lost trophy files:

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Great that the 2020 National Provincial Championship seasons have got underway! There were three North Pool Farah Palmer Cup matches on Saturday, with Counties Manukau beating North Harbour 89-3, Auckland blanking Taranaki 38-0 and Waikato pushing past Northland 18-5.

However, given that Pukekohe is in the “Auckland Bubble,” with gatherings of no more than 10 allowed, how did the Counties Manukau v North Harbour match get to proceed? Why could they play this match and not club and college rugby in Auckland or North Harbour? Probably because the match had ‘workplace status,’ which it clearly is not as the Women’s NPC is an amateur competition. No more workplace than the dozens of club and college games in Auckland, North Harbour and Counties-Manukau that have been canned in recent weeks.

In fact, decisions are being made on the fate of all community rugby in the wider region early this week, and it doesn’t look good. These competitions were supposed to resume this coming weekend for a three-week burst on 12, 19 and 26 September, but week one of the return to play has already been ruled out. At the same time, North Harbour hosts Bay of Plenty in the Women’s NPC this Saturday and Counties Manukau hosts Tasman and North Harbour plays Canterbury in the opening round of the Men’s NPC. The latter two games are professional so the ‘workplace status’ is therefore justified, albeit tenuously. The Auckland region either has a dangerous virus that needs stamping out or it doesn’t. How can 46 rugby players plus officials get intimate with each other, but bars down the road can’t have more than 10 people gathered together?

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In Canterbury Metro Premier club rugby on Saturday, the fourth placed qualifier Marist Albion beat the top qualifier Christchurch to advance to the championship final. Marist Albion won 31-28 and will play second ranked Lincoln University in the final after their win over third placed qualifier Sydenham. Of note, there was a default in the Bowl (bottom 4) semi-finals, with Sumner surrendering their semi-final to Linwood.

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Farah Palmer Cup – some fast facts ahead of the season starting for all teams this coming weekend:

  • Hawke’s Bay’s Emma Jensen is the competition’s most capped player with 120 matches, she is heading into her 18th season of domestic rugby.
  • Manawatu’s Selica Winiata is top try scorer in Farah Palmer Cup history, with 68 tries in her 81 appearances. The top try scorer in 2019 was Wellington’s Ayesha Leti-I’iga with 12 tries.
  • Canterbury halfback Kendra Cocksedge has the most points in the competition with 892 points. Last season, Otago first five-eighth Rosie Kelly top scored and was the only player to surpass 100 points, scoring 107 throughout the season.

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World Rugby announced last week that the New Zealand and Australian legs of the 2021 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series will not be played due to the continued global uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic.

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North v South game observations:

Kiwis knocked back a few beers while debating rugby tribally before an empty stadium. Is level 2 (2.5 in Auckland) really that different?

Damian McKenzie typically smiles when he takes kicks. He didn’t at the Stadium. That chat up line doesn’t work in front of no one!

North versus South wasn’t drawn. Does that put the team of five million in jeopardy?

Too many tries, Stephen Jones isn’t a fan.

Ten bucks on NO Crusaders to score a try, value at halftime.

At least a genuine South Islander won the game.

Sam Whitelock really should have been the All Blacks captain. He took the points in the first half. Penalties in a non-attended exhibition, the difference was three!

Post-match interviews: Charisma cannot be faked. Angus Ta’avao has it, one out of 46 is alright.

If this was a genuine State of Origin contest (where the scorers were born) the North wins 33-30 with 10 points coming from neutral territory. Props Tyrel Lomax (born in Australia) and Nepo Laulala (born in Samoa) scored tries for the South Island. Being the smaller island perhaps they needed to be propped up?

The Alternative commentary team produced a series of nicknames for both sides. Perhaps the best were: Cody’s 8% (Codie Taylor) and Mike Hoskins Sotutu. Two questions: 1. Was the hooker being double the percentage of the sponsor a genuine advantage for his team? 2. Is Mike Hoskins Sotutu bigger than his ego?

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New All Blacks

How many new caps have never played for the All Blacks? When is the next test? Jim Brown, the Petone second-five, was fitted in his tailored suit before the 72-73 UK tour but broke his leg before departure and was never selected again.

Alex Hodgman – Played for the Fijian Under 20’s and that’s not where the Fijian connection among the new All Blacks ends. The father of Hoskins Sotutu, Waisake played 12 tests for Fiji.

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Cullen Grace from Timaru Boys’ High School follows a great tradition of locks from that college. Jack Manchester was the captain on the 1935-36 UK tour while Jock Ross, a popular commentator on Grassroots rugby, was an All Black who played a record 158 games for Mid Canterbury. His son Isaac Ross was an All Black lock too, conceived by a Black Ferns fullback Christine Ross. The only other Black Ferns/All Black mother is Sandra Gavet who produced the Ioane brothers.

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Caleb Clarke – Father/Son All Blacks are a rare feat but Caleb Clarke might soon join his father Eroni Clarke in black. There are fewer nicer guys in rugby than Eroni Clarke! Who remembers Daniel Braid and Gary Braid; Gary is Daniel’s father, and both were All Black flankers. Anton Oliver and Frank Oliver, a father/son combination, captained the All Blacks.

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Will Jordan scored four tries for Christchurch Boys’ High School against Christ’s College on National TV in 2015. Christchurch won the annual grudge match (which dates back to 1892) by a record score of 80-0 prompting Christ’s supporters to chant: “We want your coaches.” Then skinny, perhaps it was inevitable the gun cricketer was headed for greater things in rugby.

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Hoskins Sotutu was predominantly a back until about the about age of 15 when he shifted into the forwards. He missed selection for the Sacred Heart College (Auckland) Under 15’s, often seen as an essential precursor for a typically strong First XV. He eventually made the New Zealand Secondary Schools in 2016.

Below: Victor Vito and Marist St Pat’s with the Swindale Shield in 2008 – will they win again this coming weekend? 

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Below: The September Rugby News is out now, featuring a preview of the National Provincial Championship. Look out it with the cover below at a store near you.

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