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UPDATED: Bond Banter 12 April (some rugby news in briefs and information from the ground up)

Zak Feaunati has been appointed as the Head Coach for the Wellington Pride, which runs from 17 July-11 September.

He is joined by Chad Tuoro and Aimee Sutorius as Assistant Coaches.

Former NZ 7s player Tuoro also represented Counties Manukau and Bay of Plenty at national provincial level and more recently worked at New Zealand Rugby as the Sevens Talent Identification and Development Manager.

Sutorius played for the Wellington Pride from 2002-15 and was a Black Fern. The loose forward has recently returned to Wellington from a short stint in Otago and played for the Norths Women’s side on Saturday.

Zak Feaunati in his current role as Director of Rugby for Marist St Pat’s.

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Week one of Wellington club rugby in the books (and week four of Manawatu and week two of Hawke’s Bay, as far as other notable Hurricanes region club competitions go).

More than one comment has described the first day of Wellington club rugby on Saturday ‘interesting.’

On paper, Poneke’s 68-5 win over Wellington to retain the Spud Lindsay Memorial Shield was the most convincing victory of the seven Swindale openers, but this coming Saturday Poneke play Petone in what could be a sterner test. At the opposite end of the scoring spectrum, Petone won a gritty encounter over Tawa 12-0.

Poneke and Petone will play for the F.J. Tilyard Shield, Freddy Tilyard, along with his brother Jimmy and others such as the Nicholls brothers were the stars of the game at club and representative level 100 years ago. For more visit: https://clubrugby.nz/wp/2021/01/17/looking-back-a-century-rugby-in-1921/

Other Premier matches at a glance this coming Saturday (more in-depth preview at the end of the week), see OBU playing HOBM for the Wood Cup and in a Bill Brien Challenge Cup defence – at Wellington College, Norths hosting Avalon, Ories hosting Tawa, Paremata-Plimmerton entertaining Marist St Pat’s, the Upper Hutt Rams playing Johnsonville and Wellington welcoming Wainuiomata with the Bill Jones Cup on the line.

The Division 2 section of the Women’s competition starts up on Saturday, while it’s the second round in Premier 2, U85kg and President’s matches and Reserve Grade and Colts grading round two.

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Nelson College are in town for two First XV matches this week. On Wednesday they play Rongotai College at Rongotai at 12.30pm in an annual traditional fixture and on Friday their short tour concludes with a visit to St Patrick’s College, Silverstream at 12.00pm.

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All seven Swindale Shield matches on Saturday saw the winning team prevail by more than 7 points, so there were no bonus points for losing teams coming within 7 points of the winning side.

When was the last time that happened in a round of Wellington club rugby? Round 8 in 2019 is the answer there. A one-sided round of matches, with the widest winning margin that day being MSP’s 63-7 win over Paremata-Plimmerton at Ngatitoa (where they visit this Saturday) and the narrowest being Wainuiomata’s 27-0 win over Ories at William Jones.

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When was the last time that a winning team won a match in the Swindale Shield without scoring a try, as Petone did against Tawa on Saturday (12-0, kicking four penalties)? The answer there appears to be Round 5 of the Jubilee Cup in 2012 when HOBM slew Wainuiomata 3-0 and the winning score came via the boot of fullback Glen Walters.

Another famous win where no tries were scored that Club Rugby can recall was Norths’ 6-3 victory over Poneke at Kilbirnie Park in the Jubilee Cup in 2004. This was when Kilbirnie Park was still a mudbath and it was in the depths of winter. Norths kicked two early penalties and held on grimly, aided by the injection off the bench of then super-sub loosies Serge Lilo and Faifili Levave.

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Club Day at the Stadium on Sunday.

 

The Hurricanes produced their best performance of the season, but still lost in extra time to the Crusaders. In a strange and lively game, the Hurricanes lineout imploded but the scrum was surprisingly stable against the formidable visiting pack.

Reuben Love, sometimes shielded by a busy Jordie Barrett, proved competent at first-five. Ardie Savea illustrated why he must surely be the next All Black captain with another herculean display, but Ngani Laumape let himself down with a cheap shot to the throat area of a prone Crusaders player. It could have been a red card.

Who’s still confused about the forward pass rule and why having agreed to receive the kick-off in extra time would the Hurricanes kick the ball straight back to the opposition?

Can previously subbed players come back on at the end of the regulation 80 minutes for the ‘golden point’ extra time segment of Super Rugby games; can you bring back your best or most experienced players who have already been gone off?

Strong forward shifts from James Blackwell, Devan Flanders and Xavier Numia while Wes Goosen and Peter Umaga-Jensen looked threatening in the backs. For the Crusaders, Sam Whitelock was a Trojan, openside Sione Havili-Talitui is a serious prospect and Richie Mo’unga was polished again. Their bench provided more impact and their control and composure at the end was superior.

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Both the ‘Bus’ Julian Savea and Laumape scored tries for the Hurricanes.

An updated all-time Hurricanes try-scoring list, with special thanks to Peter Marriott, is below:

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The Super Rugby U20s competition kicked off in Taupo on Sunday. The Chiefs beat the Hurricanes 40-26, the Highlanders beat the NZ Barbarians 70-17 and the Blues beat the Crusaders 34-24.

The U20s tournament continues on Wednesday and Saturday. On Wednesday, the Hurricanes play the Highlanders, the Blues play the Barbarians and the Chiefs play the Crusaders.

While Club Rugby supports this tournament and the opportunities for the players, our editorial stance insists that staging this tournament at this current time is massively irresponsible by NZR, as it is taking out some 150 players from club rugby competitions around the country for at least two weekends, in some cases three, at exactly the time that clubs need their players involved to shore up the current parlous state of the community game.

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Nice job by young Ollie Michie controlling the close, and often testy, Premier 2 fixture between Norths and Old Boys University. The match started much later than scheduled owing to an injury in the women’s match. In trying conditions Michie handled some tense situations with composure and clarity.

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Probably no need to read too much into this, but the first weekend of grading Colts matches in Wellington saw three of nine games cancelled.

On the field, the Tawa Colts had a convincing 79-19 win over the Avalon Wolves at Redwood Park, the club reporting a strong Colts contingent this year. A strong Colts competition this year with at least four or five genuinely strong clubs will be a really good thing. Defending champions OBU Green had the bye, and they open up proceedings this coming Saturday against the Ories Colts at Nairnville Park at 1.00pm.

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In round one of Thames Valley club rugby, defending champions Hauraki North were beaten 82-0 by Cobras.

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In Canterbury, the New Brighton club celebrated its 100th anniversary this past weekend. The Premiers beat Sydenham 30-15.

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A tough start to the Auckland competition season for Auckland Marist supporters, with their top two teams being defaulted to by East Tamaki and their Premier Women defaulting to Papatoetoe.

 

There were five bonus point winners in the seven games (six played) in the first round of Auckland club rugby, with Eden beating University 21-17 in the closest result of the day.

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In Southland, Woodlands and Star met in a ‘Scruffy Memorial Butt Memorial’ game in a replay of last year’s Galbraith Shield – Woodlands winning 30-24.

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In Otago club rugby, the Harbour Hawks opened their season with a 26-22 win over Southern.

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In Manawatu, defending champions Feilding Yellows won their fourth straight bonus point victory to start the season, beating Feilding Old Boys Oroua 29-6 on Derby Day. On a wet afternoon, Varsity beat winless Kia Toa 32-12, College Old Boys beat Old Boys Marist 18-13 and Te Kawau defeated Freyberg 46-19.

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In Hawke’s Bay club rugby, Napier Old Boys Marist, Hastings Rugby and Sports and Taradale are the three unbeaten teams on 10 competition points after two rounds of the Nash Cup. On Saturday, NOBM beat Napier Tech 35-17 (with former MSP wing Mike Buckley scoring an obligatory try), Taradale beating Central 36-12 (with former Norths midfielder Kienan Higgins scoring a try) and Hastings beating MAC 33-12.

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In Horowhenua Kapiti, Paraparaumu and Waikanae drew 22-22, Shannon pipped Foxton 22-20 and Rahui beat COB 26-3.

In Horowhenua-Kapiti, there is no Toa team entered in the competition this year, with the club fielding a rugby league team instead.

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Ngāti Porou East Coast club rugby was suspended this weekend when the referees made the call to go on strike following a series of abusive incidents during the previous weekend’s games. The stance was supported by New Zealand Rugby.

Anecdotally, abuse in all codes appears to be experiencing an alarming increase. In Wellington cricket there were a number of cases in the senior Premier competition in 2020/21. With insane house prices, and the COVID pandemic, these are grim times, but the lack of perspective and sense of entitlement is disturbing. There is a big difference between personal abuse and a respectful showcase of frustration, cheeky banter or constructive criticism.

A referee’s strike isn’t without precedent in the East Coast. In 2003 the Poverty Bay Rugby Referees Association conducted a strike for a week after local referee Fred Barwick was assaulted by prop Penitani Fotuaika in a Premier fixture between Ngatapa and Pirates on April 12. Barwick suffered cuts to his left eye socket and cheek, needed six stitches to his bottom lip, and lost vision in his left eye. A Poverty Bay Rugby Football Union disciplinary committee imposed a 10-year ban on Fotuaika when the referees felt it should have been a life ban.

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Nominations are open for the Wellington Sports Awards. For more visit HERE

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Refereeing shortages are a real concern nationwide but perhaps the most vivid example was this weekend in Dunedin where there were 35 referees available to control 72 games.

According to the 2019 Wellington Rugby Annual report there were 153 referees. Last year there were only 111, the lowest figure since 2017 when there were 134. Obviously COVID has had an impact on the reduction of numbers, and playing numbers and thus teams each week to referee have dropped. But all a concern.

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Once a powerhouse, Gisborne Boys’ High School First XV are really struggling. Beaten 3-43 by Lindisfarne College (Hastings) a fortnight ago they were slayed 6-71 by Kelston Boys’ High School on Saturday at their famous Rectory ground. Kelston haven’t made the Auckland 1A semi-finals since 2011 but are five time winners of the National Top Four title. Gisborne claimed top four honours in 1988, 1994 and 2007.  Despite relatively healthy playing numbers, Gisborne’s boarding house has shut and the greater number of players, competitions and resources in city schools is seeing Gisborne falling rapidly behind.

New Plymouth Boys’ High School beat Saint Kentigern College 19-17 at the Gully on Saturday while Napier Boys’ High School beat Wellington College 26-7 on Sunday.

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From the WRFU newsdesk last week:

STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE WRFU APPEALS COMMITTEE

Please see below a statement from the WRFU Appeals Committee.

On Tuesday 16 March 2021, the Disciplinary Appeal Committee of the WRFU heard an appeal by the Petone RFC on behalf of the player Ridge Studd against the red card sanctions imposed on Isosefo Aukusitino and Sagele Aukusitino of Marist St Pats RFC in the decision of the WRFU Disciplinary Committee dated 29 January 2021.

The decision of the Disciplinary Committee was to suspend Isosefo Aukusitino from all rugby for a period of two years and in respect of Sagele Aukusitino, to suspend him from all rugby for a period of one year.

The decision of the WRFU Disciplinary Appeal Committee which is dated 30 March 2021, is to make no change to the sanction for Isosefo Aukusitino but to increase the period of suspension for Sagele Aukusitino from one year to two years.

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Several more photo galleries added to our photos website over the weekend, and some more to come.

Visit and bookmark this page at: https://clubrugby.smugmug.com/2021 

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This Monday column is a collaborative one with a few contributors. If you have news or information or something to contribute please email editor@clubrugby.co.nz 

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