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Bond Banter (Short Passes) 1 March

The Hurricanes celebrate the second of hooker Asafo Aumua’s two tries on Saturday in their season opening loss to the Blues. PHOTO: Mike Lewis Pictures.

Bond Banter, also known as Short Passes, is our ‘early in the week’ news in briefs, tidbits, observations and anecdotes, statistics and an overall look at what’s coming up article. For more email editor@clubrugby.co.nz

The Manawatu Academy team beat the Wellington equivalent 42-28 in an entertaining fixture at Jerry Collins Stadium on Saturday. Scores were tied 28-28 until the visitors pulled clear in the last 10 minutes. Wellington’s defence at times left a lot to be desired. Wellington’s tries were scored by lock Akira Ieremia, second-five Riley Higgins, halfback George Sims and reserve forward Jabez Peniata. Ieremia was a standout for Wellington along with Sims Dominic Ropeti and Peter Lakai.

The Hurricanes Hunters Development side had a 39-22 hit-out win over the Regional XV in the match that followed.

A strong game for the Hunters by Vince Aso. Some correspondence as to why Billy Proctor started at centre for the Hurricanes on Saturday night ahead of the experienced big-game player Aso and last year’s All Blacks midfielder Peter Umaga-Jensen, who came off the bench?

Some more correspondence as to why one or both of the Porirua Park games weren’t played as curtain-raisers to the main game at the Stadium, and instead several hours earlier at the different venue. Because they can’t mess up the precious field, given there is cricket to be played on it in a few days (plus more cricket following the latest lockdown news).

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Rugby scheduled* to be played on Saturday 6 March includes:

  • Club Rugby pre-season: Johnsonville v Spotswood, Helston Park.
  • Club Rugby pre-season: Upper Hutt Rams v Feilding Yellows, Maidstone Park.
  • Club Rugby pre-season: Paremata-Plimmerton v Hutt Old Boys Marist, Aotea College.
  • Hurricanes inter-Academy fixture: Wellington v Hawke’s Bay, Palmerston North.
  • Hurricanes Hunters v Crusaders Development, Christchurch.
  • Super Rugby Round Two: Hurricanes v Crusaders, Christchurch (UPDATE: now moved to 4.35pm on Sunday).

*Subject to extended/deeper lockdowns and to be played in L2 conditions at least, meaning no crowds allowed.

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Another well-run and enjoyable day at the Shannon 7s on Saturday. The composite team Matakesi retained their crown, beating Palmerston North College Old Boys in the final. There were three Wellington clubs and four teams in action, with Norths and the Fijian Flyers/Johnsonville Pink reaching the semi-finals, Wainuiomata the quarter-finals and Johnsonville Blue the Pate semi-finals.

A mixed day for Tyler Tane at the Shannon 7s on Saturday. Tane entered his name into the record books as the scorer of the first try for 2021 by a Wellington senior player, dotting down early for Wainuiomata. Later in his team’s quarter-final he cut in field going for a try, only to go down injured with a suspected bad leg injury. Play was halted for some time as an ambulance was called and he was carried off to hospital.

Two players spotted playing for Norths on Saturday were OBU Jubilee Cup winning pivot Dale Sabbagh and veteran Norths and former Hurricanes prop Jacob Ellison.

HOBM’s Brandyn Laursen played for Matakesi, scoring the match-winning try in their nail-biting semi-final win over the Fijian Flyers (registered as Johnsonville Pink) who also included Esi Komaisavai in their line-up, temporarily swapping jerseys for the day. He didn’t meet his usual team on the field, but if the semi-finals had gone the other way then he would have.

Also great to have a team representing the YMP club from Gisborne making the trip down to the tournament. They played an entertaining brand of 7s and deservedly won the Plate final, beating Martinborough 24-10. Perhaps disappointing to see just three Horowhenua-Kapiti clubs at their own local tournament and none from Levin the largest town in the district and 20km down the road.

A short round-up of the tournament here: https://clubrugby.nz/wp/2021/02/27/matakesi-goes-back-to-back-at-shannon/

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It’s official, the “H” has been added to Whanganui Rugby Football Union. Spare a thought for the website and offline branding and sign people who have had to go through and change everything from Wanganui to Whanganui, and the costs involved in this that could perhaps otherwise have been spent on running or investing in the game!

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The haircuts in the Blues vs. Hurricanes game were brighter than daylight savings.

For the first time in a handful of matches a Blues and Hurricanes fixture was decided by more than 10 points with the Blues winning 31-16.

Was 15 points a flattering margin to the Blues? Not really. Their scrum was imperious and they employed that weapon better in the second-half. The Hurricanes reserves were unfortunately ineffectual.

Otere Black is maturing into a very assured first-five. Faultless goal-kicking coupled with poise in key moments was a factor in the Blues triumph. Free from the injuries which hampered his early career the last 12 months have been very solid from the former Hurricanes player.

Blues loosehead James Lay was on Super Rugby debut and smashed his opposite, All Black tighthead Tyrel Lomax. Lay has been around a while. The 27-year-old has played 26 games for Auckland, 10 tests for Samoa and two seasons for Bristol in England.

Positives for the Hurricanes included outstanding individual displays from Asafo Aumua Ardie Savea – in his 100th game and first as captain –  and Devan Flanders, after a shaky start. Jonathan Taumateine brought plenty of energy at halfback.

Sets of brothers to have made 100 Super Rugby appearances:

Luke and Sam Whitelock (New Zealand)
Owen and Ben Franks (New Zealand)
Colby and Saia Fainga’a (Australia)
Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis (South Africa)
Akona and Odwa Ndungane (South Africa)
Julian and Ardie Savea (New Zealand)
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Hooker Codie Taylor scored the first try of the Super Rugby season for the Crusaders in their 26-13 win over the Highlanders. Last year his opposite Ash Dixon achieved the same feat against the Chiefs.

The Highlanders were down 19-13 with less than 15 minutes remaining against the Crusaders when they were perhaps unluckily denied a try.

The ball was grounded in the Crusaders in goal area but a marginal knock on was detected in a ruck beforehand. From the 22 dropout a kicking duel commenced which resulted in a huge territorial gain for the Crusaders. Why with considerable momentum against the defending champions, assisted by a favourable penalty count, would you kick the ball aimlessly back to the opposition a handful of times? Especially when the receiver of those kicks had space to run and support on both flanks. When the Highlanders did run they went into contact outnumbered three on one allowing the Crusaders defense to quickly align and pressure? A short time later a try was scored and the contest was over.

Connor Garden-Bachop scored his first Super Rugby try. Dad Stephen Bachop and Mum Sue Garden-Bachop both scored plenty of tries in Dunedin. Both were internationals. can Connor join Isaac Ross as the son of a mother/father New Zealand duo. Jock Ross was an All Black lock and Christine Ross a Black Ferns fullback?

Connor Garden-Bachop’s moustache looks like Movember on Temazepam. Chaplin Garden-Bachop might be a new nickname next season.

Former Billygoats Marino Mikaele Tu’u and Hugh Renton produced strong displays in the loose for the Highlanders against the Crusaders. Hugh Renton has won two Super Rugby titles despite playing just one game before this season. He played for the Hurricanes in 2017 against the Lions but was a member of the 2016 winning squad. He then joined the Crusaders in a wider training squad capacity last year. He debuted for the Highlanders on Friday night. Ma’a Nonu played for every franchise except the Crusaders. Fellow All Black Midfielder Pita Alatini played for the Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders and was in a Blues squad without actually playing.

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How many substitutes in professional rugby are pre-mediated and how many are reactive to what is happening? If the best player on the night is subbed on 67 minutes and his replacement given 13 minutes to empty his tank was that decided on Thursday at training or at the time?

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Some recognition for one of the characters of Wellington rugby, with David Walsh being made a Life Member of the Wellington Rugby Referees Association at their AGM last Monday night. Walsh’s career with the whistle began back in 1987 and has since racked up more than 1300 matches in the middle, including over 180 Premier appointments; in addition to his roles as the WRFU’s Referee Education Officer and sideline manager for matches at the Stadium. Our warmest congratulations from us here at Club Rugby.

Another to be recognised by the WRRA was our regular contributor Scott MacLean who received the Joe O’Brien Memorial award for service. In addition to being an active referee, MacLean also serves on the WRRA’s Appointment and Communications teams and is their representative to the Wellington Secondary Schools executive.

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Some news on the possible structure of the Premier Reserve grade for 2021, with WRFU looking to split the grade into two divisions comprising a Top 8 and a “the rest” which would include Stokes Valley and potential second teams like the Petone Brotherhood. Club Rugby backs the idea as it makes more of these contests meaningful week-on-week, and likely reduces the number of blowout results in a grade that is perhaps only exceeded by the Women’s for the disparity between the top and bottom.

As for who those Top 8 teams are, our guess is that Norths, Tawa, OBU, MSP, Poneke, and Petone would comprise six of that number with Ories and HOBM likely very interested.

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A hot day for the annual PetoneMan pre-season race on Saturday:

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Below: our Swindale Shield countdown clock captured exactly at 10.40am and 6 seconds the other day:

 

Below: a novel way for different sports to share grounds in the Hutt in 1921:

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A sensational 40-24 win by Wales over England in the Six Nations earned the Welsh their 21st Triple Crown, defeating the Home Nations Ireland, Scotland and England in the same tourney. Furthermore, the 40 points scored by Wales was the highest number of points they have scored against England in 136 internationals stretching back to 1881.It was a match full of drama with two controversial first-half tries. First Josh Adams dived over after a quick penalty from Dan Biggar when England were expecting a kick at goal. It was brilliant quick thinking by Biggar. Then Liam Williams was the only man playing to the whistle after what appeared to be a knock-on by Louis Rees-Zammit – diving on the loose ball to score after a TMO check. This try was perhaps more contentious. Down 17-6 England squared the ledger at 24-24 but Wales pulled clear again on the back of poor discipline from the visitors. England have conceded five penalties in the first eight minutes of their last three internationals alone. Welsh No.8 Taulupe Faletau was Player of the Match.

The 40 points scored by Wales in their win over England was the most scored against the English since a 34-21 win in the famous ‘Keith Jarrett match’ of 1967. Wales were in jeopardy of their first ever championship whitewash. England, by contrast, were pursuing a Triple Crown and the championship. Aged 18 Jarrett was selected at full back even though he had never played senior rugby in that position. Newport were asked to play him at full back against Newbridge on the weekend before the international to give him some experience. He did not seem to be much of a success in his new position and at half time, his captain David Watkins, switched him to centre. The following week Jarrett played in his first international at full back scored a try, kicked two penalty goals and five conversions for a total of 19 points. His performance was so impressive that he made the cover of Rugby World magazine two months later. His try has been voted seventh in a poll of the top ten Welsh tries and he is listed on the Welsh Rugby Union Official Website as the scorer of the “Greatest Ever Welsh try.” Jarrett toured South Africa with the 1968 British & Irish Lions, but his trip was ruined by tonsilitis and he lost around two stone because of the illness. In the 1969 Five Nations campaign, he scored a then Welsh Championship record 31 points to help secure the Triple Crown and the title. He turned to professional league with Barrow after returning from the summer tour to New Zealand and Australia in 1969. His signing on fee was £14,000. He was capped by Wales but had to retire aged 25 after suffering a stroke.

Here’s the famous try against England: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncKSG4V1Zus

At the age of just 28 years and 319 days old, George North become the youngest man in history to play rugby for their country 100 times. North has scored 42 tests tries and been a British and Irish Lion.

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From North Harbour Rugby last week (full article is HERE ):

North Harbour Rugby will be providing a platform for Club Rugby teams to play alongside schools in the newly developed Youth Rugby system in 2021.

The new approach will also see the delaying of open weight Rugby in favour of weight restricted grades for boys and Rip Rugby (non-contact) options at Secondary Schools.

David Gibson, Harbour Rugby’s Chief Executive says there has been a strong case for change for some years now.

“We have seen across the country and in our region, particular with youth males between the ages of 12-15 years of age, a steady decline in participants and teams. We need to look at better ways to meet this generations needs. The changes we are making will hopefully be a shift in a good direction.”

“We are in the process of communicating the changes to Clubs and Schools in preparation for the start of the Rugby season in May” said Gibson.

Sir Graham Henry, All Black coaching great and NZ Rugby life member has been a longstanding advocate for Club and School collaboration, weight restricted Rugby and innovating in order to provide better experiences for youth.

Henry believes provincial unions, schools and clubs must work together better for the next generation of players, coaches, managers, referees, and volunteers.

“The top end professional side of the game, COVID aside, is in good shape. The community game needs more emphasis. We need to listen to what youth want and do not want, innovate, and be prepared to change.

“We need to make Rugby more appealing for the vast majority of youth who won’t go on and may not want to go on to be elite athletes. Weight restricted offerings, collaboration between clubs and schools, and different Rugby options are all positive shifts in my view.”

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Tough gig at Taranaki at present:

The return of professional rugby to Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth has been delayed until 2022.

The Taranaki equivalent of  Transmission Gully’s opening pushed back to 2022.

The two quakeprone two covered stands at Yarrow have been closed in 2017 and 2018 respectively and its owner — the Taranaki Regional Council — is spending $50 million repairing and upgrading the facility.

It was initially hoped to complete the West Stand by mid-2021 in time for this season’s National Provincial Championship.

But TRC Chairman David MacLeod said after a more detailed assessment the stand would not be ready until November – too late for the 2021 season.

“Unfortunately our wish to potentially have some sports and activities happening at the stadium this year is not going to come to fruition.

“The repairs of the West Stand are happening, but it looks like that will be complete towards the end of the year meaning that we’ll have to wait until next year, 2022, until we get the use of the stadium.”

Read more HERE

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