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The Monday Wrap 1 August (some rugby news and information to start the week)

Monday midday edition: Two weekends to play in Wellington club rugby competitions three in college rugby and representative rugby just getting underway.

The three are set to intersect this coming weekend, with feature club semi-finals, the final round of what is now a highly compelling First XV competition and some representative games, home and away.

As always, we will look beyond the Instagram graphics and carry a more in depth preview at the end of the week, but Colts semi-finals at a glance see Petone hosting MSP and HOBM playing OBU, and Premier 2 semi-finals being between unbeaten Tawa and Poneke and HOBM and Norths.

Rep rugby sees the Wellington Samoans host Taranaki Māori at the Petone Rec and the Wellington Māori against Taranaki Pasifika at the Hutt Rec, plus the Wellington U19s and Wellington Centurions are both away and in action for the first time this year.

The Premiership First XV competition has been lit up heading into this weekend’s final round-robin set of matches, with the semi-final positions still up for grabs, following HIBS’ win over Wellington College this past weekend and also St Pat’s Town’s toppling of previously unbeaten St Pat’s Silverstream last Wednesday.

Then if supporters can come up for air on Sunday, they can look forward to the Wellington Lions hosting the Bay of Plenty Steamers at Wellington Stadium on Sunday afternoon.


There is midweek school rugby at Porirua Park on Wednesday, three games being:

  • St Mary’s College versus Manukura in a Girls First XV clash, kick-off 11.30am
  • Wellington Girls Premier 2 final, Bishop Viard College v Naenae College, kick-off 4.30pm
  • Wellington Co-ed Cup final Bishop Viard First XV v Upper Hutt College First XV, kick-off 6.00pm


One great story out of Saturday’s Under 85kg game between Eastbourne and Wellington. Jimmy Lawler manages the Axemen team and is a passionate rugby man, but has a condition that rules him out of playing the game. Nonetheless, he still got on the field, kicking a penalty into touch to a loud ovation at HW Shortt before leaving again with what we are told was an enormous grin.


What is it about referees and Kilbirnie Park #1? A couple of years ago leading referee Jamie Fairmaid had to leave the field after turning into the shoulder of Petone’s Dylan Williamson in a Jubilee Cup game, but up-and-coming referee Danny Cameron has that beat. Two weeks ago he was seen bouncing across the turf like tumbleweed after getting in the wrong place at the wrong time – but still got to his feet to award a try, while on Saturday he was seen helpfully keeping ball carrier and tackler out of the bog after ending up under both at one point:



Ma’a Nonu passes on his knowledge to the next generation at the Polo Ground on Saturday.


The Wellington Lions beat Taranaki in a pre-season NPC fixture in Waverly:


Chelsea Semple celebrated her 50th match for Waikato in their 23-16 win over the Wellington Pride on Sunday. She has scored a record 407 points for the province.


The opening round of the Hurricanes Heartland U20s competition was on Saturday, from which the Hurricanes Heartland U20s combined team is selected to play the Wellington, Hawke’s Bay and Manawatu U19s in the Central Region Shield series.

In these games, the Wairarapa-Bush U20s beat the Poverty Bay U20s 36-26 and the Whanganui U20s beat 2021 winners Horowhenua-Kapiti 39-15. Rounds two and three of this competition is being played in Palmerston North this Saturday and Sunday.


In another women’s result, the Whanganui Development Women beat the Wellington Development Women 39-25.


Ayesha Leti-I’iga has now scored 56 tries in 42 games for Wellington. The record for most tries for one province is Selica Winiata with 74 for Manawatu.


The New Zealand men’s and women’s Sevens team both won bronze at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

The Black Ferns beat Canada 19-12 for third place and the The All Blacks Sevens knocked over Australia 26-12 for their men’s medal.


Michaela Blyde scored six tries against Sri Lanka at the Commonwealth Games. It’s a record by a Kiwi women in a sevens match, but not the Kiwi record. Christain Cullen went one better against Sri Lanka at the 1996 Hong Kong Sevens.

Hair pulls. One school of thought asks why is a hair pull in women’s rugby not a straight red card? It’s a deliberate high shot? Another says if you have long hair down almost to your waist then the defender can argue they were going for the jersey and/or its below legal tackle height and part of the body, so therefore it is the responsibility of the players to tie back or cut their hair.


A number of current or former Wellington club rugby players in the Hawke’s Bay Magpies squad revealed on Friday.

One familiar name is Nick Grigg, former Newlands College student and Petone player who was a regular in their midfield between 2011-15 before heading to Scotland for several seasons and representing Scotland.

Others include Chase Tiatia, Kienan Higgins, Joe Apikotoa, Sam Smith, Ollie Sapsford, Tyrone Thompson, Josh Gimblett and Tiaki Fabish (the last three being Hawke’s Bay natives).


The 2022 Heartland Championship starts on 20 August, with eight rounds followed by semi-finals and the Meads and Lochore Cup finals. The below matches will be live on Sky and available free-to-air on Prime.

  • Round 1: South Canterbury v Thames Valley, 20 August at 2.30PM  live on Sky and Prime
  • Round 1: Wairarapa-Bush vs. North Otago, 21 August at 7.05PM live on Sky
  • Round 2: Thames Valley vs. West Coast, 1.00PM live on Sky, delayed on Prime*
  • Round 3: Buller v Poverty Bay, 12.05PM live on Sky and Prime
  • Round 4: Poverty Bay v Ngāti Porou East Coast (Bill Osborne Taonga match), 2.30PM live on Sky and Prime
  • Round 5: North Otago v Horowhenua Kapiti, 2.30PM live on Sky and Prime
  • Round 6: King Country v Ngāti Porou East Coast, 2.30PM live on Sky and Prime
  • Round 7: Mid Canterbury v South Canterbury, 2.30PM, live on Sky and Prime
  • Round 8: Whanganui v Mid Canterbury, 2.30PM live on Sky and Prime
  • Finals: Meads and Lochore Cup finals live on Sky**


Hawke’s Bay have won 73 out of 108 Ranfurly Shield matches. Only Auckland with 158 out of 203 and Canterbury 151 out of 199 have won more games. Poverty Bay has had 18 unsuccessful challenges.


The two teams involved in a brawl in a Manawatū club rugby match have received a warning.

The brawl occurred between under-21 colts teams from Palmerston North club College Old Boys and Whanganui Metro at Ongley Park in Palmerston North last Saturday. COB won the game 37-12.

The game was called off one minute from fulltime due to the fight.

Manawatū Rugby Union chief executive Andrea Jackson said in a statement on Friday night the judiciary had issued Whanganui Metro a warning and College Old Boys a caution. A player also received a six-week suspension for striking.


Liam Napier has written a piece in the Guardian newspaper for overseas readership about the current situation in New Zealand rugby. Read more HERE

Some key extracts:

Other issues include the number of teenage boys playing rugby falling at alarming rates for the past eight years – down 17% to 2018, at a time when basketball’s popularity grew 41%. This can partly be attributed to the professionalisation of schoolboy rugby, and the lack of focus on those below the elite first XVs. In Auckland alone the number of secondary school rugby teams fell from 225 to 181 between 2013 and 2018.

The decimated grassroots scene, where many clubs have folded and amalgamated, continues to have a profound effect on participation and engagement, too, while crowds and ratings for the elite game are declining.

New Zealand’s talent development, particularly that of the once dominant under-20s team, has declined since 2017, before a sudden revival this season.

In the professional realm this year’s remodelled 12-team Super Rugby competition exposed a dearth of contrasting, confrontational styles. The absence of South Africa and, to a lesser extent, Argentina, leave largely homogenised contests that do not best prepare New Zealand’s players for the combative, suffocating Test arena. And while the recently signed $200m deal with US private investment firm Silver Lake offers financial security, the potential long-term pressure points of that arrangement remain unclear.

PHOTOS. Photo galleries added all the time:

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