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Short Passes 21 December (Season’s Greetings edition)

What a ride! It’s the end of 2020, and may we end this year with some Christmas cheer before wiping the slate clean and blasting into 2021. Club Rugby wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and thanks everyone for their ongoing support.

Look out for our annual Christmas Day article on Friday and some steady content early next year as we build towards the new season.

As reported earlier this week, the next edition of the Swindale Shield starts a little later as far as the modern era goes (think 18 March start day in 2018), which is a good thing. So plenty of pre-season from about mid-February onwards as well as some annual sevens tournaments around the lower North Island to follow (and hopefully for some clubs and players play in).

A steady stream of rugby news and media releases to end the year on. Some of this below.

Congratulations to Sam Cane for winning the prestigious Kelvin R Tremain Memorial award at NZ Rugby awards last week. Cane also won the All Blacks Player of the Year title, for his high workrate, fearless tacking and admirable leadership in a challenging year (the All Blacks only winning half their games notwithstanding) so was always going to be a leading contender to scoop the supreme award too if his domestic form in 2020 also stacked up, such as last year’s winner Ardie Savea, 2018 winner Kendra Cocksedge (also the first female recipient) and Sam Whitelock in 2017 and others before them. But hang on, Cane’s Chiefs went 0/8 in Super Rugby Aoteraroa. He then had a 1/2 record for Bay of Plenty in two games he played in the NPC, so his domestic credentials were surely lacking.

The question is then what exactly is the criteria for winning the Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Trophy? Is it for off-field performances as well as on it, and is it strictly for international performances? The other two nominees for this award were Aaron Smith and Dane Coles, the latter not setting the world on fire this year either in comparison to some previous seasons (and he’s one of our favourite players, Wellington College and Wellington bias fully disclosed), while Richie Mo’unga would possibly have been another contender.

Update: Otago Daily Times Correspondant Steve Hepburn asked similar questions HERE 

To re-cap, the winners are below:

2020 ASB Rugby Awards winners

Sky TV Fans Try of the Year
Jack Jones (Christ’s College)

New Zealand Referee of the Year
Paul Williams (Taranaki)

Charles Monro Rugby Volunteer of the Year
Jane Chamberlain (Horowhenua Kapiti)

NZRPA Kirk Award
Andy Ellis

Steinlager Salver
Sir Bryan Williams

Duane Monkley Medal (Mitre 10 Cup Player of the Year)
Folau Fakatava (Hawke’s Bay)

Fiao’o Faamausili Medal (Farah Palmer Cup Player of the Year)
Kendra Cocksedge (Canterbury)

ASB National Coach of the Year
Scott Robertson (Crusaders)

ASB New Zealand Coach of the Year
Allan Bunting and Cory Sweeney (Black Ferns Sevens)

Investec Super Rugby Player of the Year
Richie Mo’unga (Canterbury, Crusaders)

Tom French Memorial Maori Player of the Year
Ash Dixon (Ngāti Tahinga, Hawke’s Bay)

Richard Crawshaw Memorial All Blacks Sevens Player of the Year
Scott Curry (Bay of Plenty)

Black Ferns Sevens Player of the Year
Stacey Fluhler (Waikato)

Black Ferns Player of the Year
Chelsea Alley (Waikato)

All Blacks Player of the Year
Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty)

Adidas National Team of the Year

Adidas New Zealand Team of the Year
Black Ferns Sevens

Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year
Sam Cane


Another curious email that came through to the Club Rugby newsdesk last week was that announcing the appointment of Tyler Bleyendaal as a Hurricanes assistant coach for next year. The same role that Carlos Spencer left mid-season in cloudy circumstances.

The 30-year-old has plenty of playing experience behind him, playing 21 games for the Crusaders, 32 for Canterbury and a further 62 for Munster, where he has been most recently based.

What coaching experience has he got? It appears not a lot.

Hurricanes head coach, Jason Holland, says it’s Bleyendaal’s wealth of rugby knowledge that will make him such a valuable asset to the team.

“He has experience running the game in Super Rugby as a player and has recently been entrenched in the Northern hemisphere rugby world both as a player and more recently in a coaching capacity. He has an astute rugby brain and will challenge our coaching team and the players to grow and innovate.”

Assuming there were other applicants for the role in one of only five fully professional teams in New Zealand, his credentials must indeed be good with little coaching experience under this belt in any level of rugby.


The Super Rugby Trans-Tasman 2021 draw has been finalised, the draw being *:

Round 1
Highlanders v Reds, Friday 14 May, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, 7:05pm
Waratahs v Hurricanes, Friday 14 May, TBC, 9:45pm
Crusaders v Brumbies, Saturday 15 May, Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch, 7:05pm
Rebels v Blues, Saturday 15 May, AAMI Park, Melbourne, 9:45pm
Force v Chiefs, Saturday 15 May, HBF Park, Perth, 11:55pm

Round 2
Hurricanes v Rebels, Friday 21 May, Sky Stadium, Wellington, 7:05pm
Force v Highlanders, Friday 21 May, HBF Park, Perth, 9:45pm
Blues v Waratahs, Saturday 22 May, Eden Park, Auckland, 4:35pm
Chiefs v Brumbies, Saturday 22 May, FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton, 7:05pm
Reds v Crusaders, Saturday 22 May, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, 9:45pm

Round 3 – Super Round**
Brumbies v Blues
Hurricanes v Force
Rebels v Highlanders
Reds v Chiefs
Waratahs v Crusaders

Round 4
Crusaders v Force, Friday 4 June, Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch, 7:05pm
Reds v Blues, Friday 4 June, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, 9:45pm
Chiefs v Rebels, Saturday 5 June, FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton, 4:35pm
Highlanders v Waratahs, Saturday 5 June, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, 7:05pm
Brumbies v Hurricanes, Saturday 5 June, GIO Stadium, Canberra, 9:45pm

Round 5
Hurricanes v Reds, Friday 11 June, Sky Stadium, Wellington, 7:05pm
Brumbies v Highlanders, Friday 11 June, GIO Stadium, Canberra, 9:45pm
Rebels v Crusaders, Saturday 12 June, AAMI Park, Melbourne, 4:35pm
Blues v Force, Saturday 12 June, Eden Park, Auckland, 7:05pm
Waratahs v Chiefs, Saturday 12 June, TBC, 9:45pm


More coaching teams announced for 2021, such as MSP’s below:


And Ories, with Mason Malagamaali’i head coach and assistants Mark Reddish, Whetu Henry and Jusin McCarthy:



The All Blacks will play France, Italy and two yet-to-be-determined qualifiers in Pool Play at Rugby World Cup 2023 in France.

The draw was held in Paris overnight, with New Zealand drawn alongside hosts France, Italy, Americas 1 and Africa 1 in Pool A. The All Blacks have played France seven times at RWCs, the most of any country, and Italy five times, with the 2019 fixture cancelled.

The Americas 1 winner will come from a play off series between the 2021 Rugby Americas North champion and 2021 Sudamerica Rugby champion. Africa 1 will be the winner of the 2022 Rugby Africa Cup.

As with previous Rugby World Cups, the tournament will feature 20 teams divided into four pools of five teams.

Twelve teams have already qualified – the top three teams from each of the four pools at the 2019 World Cup – and were seeded into three bands based on their position in the World Rugby rankings at the start of this year.

The full 2023 Rugby World Cup Pools are as follows:

Pool A: New Zealand, France, Italy, Americas 1 and Africa 1.
Pool B: South Africa, Ireland, Scotland, Asia / Pacific 1 and Europe 2.
Pool C: Wales, Australia, Fiji, Europe 1 and Final Qualifier Winner.
Pool D: England, Japan, Argentina, Oceania 1 and Americas 2.

The 2023 RWC will take place from 8 September to 21 October at nine venues.

Remind us again in two years.


Plenty to ponder for the world’s rugby officials over the next end of year break, with big C word a hot topic. As Hamish Bidwell wrote recently;

News that a group of former high-profile players are planning legal action against World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union should send a shudder through the game.

The eight men, who include 2003 Rugby World Cup-winner Steve Thompson, are set to claim that the governing bodies failed to protect them from the risks of concussion.

Thompson, 42, has been diagnosed with early onset dementia and probable CTE. Others among the eight, who are said to be a test case for hundreds of other players with similar symptoms, have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury.

There’s plenty to unpack here and none of it reflects well on those who whinged about the game going soft when two players were sent off for high tackles in a recent Bledisloe Cup clash.

Read more HERE


Then there’s this watch from last week below: 



Beauden Barrett has been officially unveiled by his new club Suntory Sungoliath.

The All Blacks star is playing for the franchise in the 2021 Japanese Top League, during a sabbatical which is included in his four year deal with New Zealand Rugby through to the end of 2023.

Read and watch more HERE



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