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Short Passes 12 October (news in briefs and happenings)

Above: Alex Fidow scores a cheeky try for the Wellington Lions on Saturday. More photos from this game HERE

UPDATED: It’s been 19 years and 356 days since the Wellington Lions last won the National Provincial Championship Premiership [Division 1 title].

Following two consecutive last-gasp losses to South Island rivals Canterbury and Otago, they have slipped to fifth (see table right) on the standings with two wins and three losses from five games.

But there are still five games left, so, much like their indifferent start to the 2000 season, they can still come roaring home to win it. This weekend they host North Harbour at Wellington Stadium at 2.05pm on Saturday. But if they lose this, they can probably start thinking about their summer break.

Elsewhere, the Wellington Pride return from their bye to finish their 2020 season against the Otago Spirit at Porirua Park on Sunday at 12.05pm.

In other rugby played on Saturday, the Wellington Centurions U18s travel to Napier to play the Hawke’s Bay Saracens U18s in a one-off representative fixture.

In Masterton on Saturday, the Hurricanes Youth Council hosts their annual Hurricanes Schools 7s tournament. This is all day at Rathkeale College and has attracted a full field. We will preview this tournament later this week.

This weekend also sees the quarter-finals of the National U85kg competition. Following wins by all four of Wellington’s teams in the first round last weekend, Eastbourne, Poneke, Avalon and the Wellington Axemen are all in action. UPDATE: Short Passes understands that the match between Eastbourne and the Wellington Axemen is at Wellington Stadium at 11.35am and the Poneke v Avalon fixture is at Evans Bay Park at 2.00pm.

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Former Wellington Lion and current Northern United (formerly Tawa) loosehead prop Tolu Fahamokioa made his debut for Waikato on Saturday in their 36-13 win over Counties-Manukau.

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The Wellington Stadium annual report is out and makes for sorry reading, even for ardent supporters of the Yellow Seats Army.
Non playoff statistics for the 2019 National Provincial Championship [Mitre 10 Cup]:
  • First time total season attendance dropped below 10,000.
  • Lowest average season attendance 1,946 (previous low 2,179 in 2018).
  • Lowest individual match attendance 1,228 v Counties Manukau (previous low 1,356 v Southland in 2018)
  • Listing all 100 NPC matches played at the stadium from highest to lowest, all 10 matches from 2018 and 2019 are in the bottom 20.
  • For the decade 2010 to 2019 the 52 matches totaled 184,513 versus 849,753 for the equivalent 48 matches from 2000 to 2009.
  • The total attendance for the last three seasons (15 matches) of 35,270 is barely higher than the stadium single match capacity.
  • The last time an individual match attendance was over 5,000 was in 2013 versus Auckland.
Playoff statistics for the 2019 NPC:
  • Lowest individual attendance 1,879 v Canterbury (previous low 2,528 v North Harbour in 2016).

Only once in the nine playoff matches since 2009 has the attendance been over 10,000 (whereas in the previous eight only one had been under 10,000) and only one of the last five has reached 5,000 (the 2017 Championship Final v BOP).

31 October 2009 Air NZ Cup semi final: Wellington vs Southland 9,120
20 October 2012 ITM Cup: Wellington vs Auckland (Semi-final) 6,339
18 October 2013 ITM Cup: Wellington vs Counties Manakau Semi Final 6,903
26 October 2013 ITM Cup: Wellington vs Canterbury Final 14,969
17 October 2015 ITM Cup Semi Final: Wellington Lions vs Otago 3,178
22 October 2016 Mitre 10 Cup: Wellington Lions v North Harbour 2,528
20 October 2017 Mitre 10 Cup Semi Final: Wellington Lions v Northland 4,952
27 October 2017 Mitre 10 Cup Final: Wellington Lions v Bay of Plenty 7,908
19 October 2019 Mitre 10 Cup Rugby Semi Final: Wellington Lions v Canterbury 1,879

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The 2021 Hawke’s Bay 7s tournament at Central Park, Waipukurau, is on 13 February 2021. Interested in attending? Email:

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The Hurricanes announced late last week they have re-signed Vaea Fifita (Wellington Axemen) until the end of 2021 and James Blackwell (Petone) until the end of 2023.

Fifita’s been with the team since 2015, when he made his debut against the Blues in Auckland.

Since then, the Tongan-born loose forward and lock has gone on to play 67 games for the Super Rugby franchise, whilst also becoming a stalwart on the provincial scene for the Wellington Lions.

“I am incredibly proud to be part of the Hurricanes and to have the chance to live out a childhood dream and play for the club I grew up watching. The people at the club make it a special place to me and I feel privileged to continue my journey here,” said Blackwell.

Blackwell has played 36 games for the Hurricanes since his debut against the Sunwolves in 2017.

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Wairarapa Bush beat Horowhenua-Kapiti 47-24 on Saturday in Masterton.

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The Wellington Lions were wearing their club socks on Saturday, so it must have been WRFU Old Timers’ Day?

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So the All Blacks dodged a Hodge at the end of their Bledisloe Cup Test yesterday. Except it wasn’t the end, as the match kept going at a frantic pace for another four minutes before its conclusion, making it a Fozzy start to Ian’s era.

Two average teams who will surely improve for the return match this coming weekend in Auckland. The Wallabies will have their work cut out for them to win at Eden Park, but if they can spend their week working on their breakdown technique then who knows?

There have been 22 draws in 592 All Blacks Tests.

There have been eight draws in Tests against Australia, these being:

  • 1907: 5-5 in Sydney
  • 1934: 3-3 in Sydney
  • 1962: 9-9 in Wellington
  • 1974: 16-16 in Brisbane
  • 1988: 19-19 in Brisbane
  • 2012: 18-18 in Brisbane
  • 2014: 12-12 in Sydney
  • 2020: 16-16 in Wellington

Sunday’s draw was the first time ever that the All Blacks have drawn two consecutive matches at the same venue (and with the same score too against South Africa in 2019).

Wellington tops the charts with five draws in 68 matches (Athletic Park and the Stadium combined).

Christchurch has no draws in 52 matches across all venues there.

It took only two matches to get a draw at Athletic Park but 20 at the Stadium.

Included in the five draws in Wellington is one of only two 0-0 draws (the other being Edinburgh in 1964).

Between 2002 and 2012 the ABs went 127 matches without a draw.

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Reiko Ioane knocks on over the line just prior to halftime.

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Congratulations to Peter Umaga-Jensen (Wainuiuomata) for joining the All Blacks squad last week. He was sideline at the Test yesterday.

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Six tries for Portia Woodman for Northland against Taranaki in the Women’s NPC on Sunday. Draws & Results HERE 

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Some more Wellington clubs having their end of season awards.

From last week, Tawa’s winners were: Premier best back  Tom Maiava / Best Forward David Massey / Rookie of the year. Akira Ieremia / Premier Player of the year David Massey / Paul McEnaney Best & Fairest Player Tom Maiava

Isaia Petelo won the Marist St Pat’s Sportsman of the Year title, for the second time and six years after his first win in 2014.

Paremata-Plimmerton Premier Men’s and Women’s winners:
Premier Men
MVP (Grasscutters Trophy): Justin Wilson
Best forward (Thompson Trophy): Taisson Lealaisalanoa
Best back (Ngati Toa Trophy): Jordan Clark
Premier Women
MVP (Ericka Rere Trophy): Tawny Burgess
Best forward (O’Reilly-Nugent Rangatira Cup): Alia Ah Far
Best back (Mana Cup): Sharn Rohloff

Several other clubs (on top of the ones we featured here last week) have also had their prize-giving, but their winners remain a secret as of Monday morning.

Insights from the 2020 National Sport Club Survey (NSCS) are now available. Over 1,100 sport clubs responded across 80 sports and all 17 regions of New Zealand.

NSCS data indicates that many more sport clubs are losing money in 2020 (11%) than were in 2019 (5%). A higher proportion of clubs connected to New Zealand’s most traditional sports like rugby, cricket and netball report being “hit hard” by the impact of COVID-19 (15%) compared to other team sports (6%), primarily individual sports (4%) and racquet sports (3%).

Further, less clubs from traditional sports indicate they will “shortly be back to normal” (31%) compared to other team sports (46%), primarily individual sports (49%) and racquet sports (56%). Fewer Auckland sport clubs anticipate being shortly back to normal (38%) than other regions of the country (up to 65%).

Read more HERE

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The October Rugby News magazine is out now.

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