- By Adam Julian
The Tawa Premier Reserves are unbeaten in their last 33 games. In that period they have outscored opponents 1305 to 497, that’s an average score of 40-15 in each game.
Their worst result in the impressive streak was a 22-22 draw against Old Boys University, a result that actually secured the first round Harper Lock Shield earlier this year.
Ominously, just a fortnight ago, Tawa achieved their biggest victory of the streak, 76-5 against Old Boys University in the second round, Ed Chaney Cup.
This Saturday Tawa will look to successfully defend the Ed Chaney Cup outright when they tackle Northern United in the final. Tawa beat Norths 22-5 in their last meeting on July 16.
Lock Bradd Forster is captain of Tawa. He expects a tough encounter against the northern suburbs rivals.
“Norths will be a really good challenge. They fight hard for the ball and are especially physical at the ruck,” Forster said.
“We expect them to try and involve their backs too. They have some pace on the outside. We will have to be at our best to beat them.”
A product of Wellington College, Forster was good enough to crack the Wellington Under 19’s in 2015.
In 2016 he was a member of the Tawa Premiers who won the Jubilee Cup. The triumph was bitter-sweet as his appearances were restricted by fragile shoulders that would soon completely give way.
“I didn’t play for three years from 2017 to 2019. That was a really dark period in my life, and it took me ages to find something other than rugby to keep me stimulated.
“I’d suffered pain in my shoulders at college but didn’t complain too much because I didn’t want to be seen as a pussy.
“When I was struggling to sleep at night, and getting all cranky, I finally decided to see a doctor and he said I needed surgery on my left shoulder and eventually my right to.”
Torn cartilage in the front of the left shoulder was repaired but then “corrective surgery” was required on the same shoulder in 2017 with cartilage at the back unstable. Forster fell asleep during the second All Blacks v Lions test in Wellington, lonely and miserable.
What about the right shoulder?
“That one was more serious. They had to cut the whole thing open, and I was told in April 2019 not to play anymore. I was heartbroken.”
Forster channelled his restless energy into study. A keen student of economics he secured a fulltime job with Inland Revenue and is soon hoping to publish a thesis on housing.
In 2020 in defiance of medical advice he even stepped back on the rugby field, albeit tentatively.
There’s nothing tentative about Tawa’s second XV. In 2021 they cleaned up Premier 2 with a 17-0 record, recovering from a 20-3 deficit in the Ed Chaney final to smash Hutt Old Boys Marist 45-26.
A stronger and more confident Forster has played a key role throughout the entire winning streak missing only four games due to travel commitments.
“I think we enjoy hitting each other more than we do the opposition. Sometimes we use skill and strategy but we’re always belting each other at training and though it’s never sinister I think we’ve definitely got an edge about us.” Forster responded when asked to explain the juggernaut.
“We’re lucky we often train with the prems. The insight of Steven So’ oialo and Trent Renata is profound and it helps with the fitness too.
“The other thing about this team is that it’s very social, like one big family. I know that’s cliché but it’s true. We laugh together all the time. Our coaches Thomas George and Mark Cooper, and managers Zac and Amy, have created the perfect balance between fun and serious.
“Thomas is a helluva guy, a true club stalwart. He goes hunting most weeks and we always have a massive barbeque after the game.”
The 2022 Tawa squad is full of distinct personalities. Policeman Damian Rapira-Davies and Jacob Mua are other important off field contributors.
Andy Faiaoga is the leading try scorer with 13 tries. Solomona Uelese has scored 91 points in 16 games.
Lock Eammon Carr survived cancer and is a qualified builder. Veterans George George and Peniasi Tokakece are approaching their third decade of senior rugby. Forster conceded Peniasi is granted some special exemptions.
“There have been scrums this year where smoke has been seen. Peni keeps a vape in his sock and occasionally has a puff when the ref isn’t looking.”
Tawa will be hoping not to run out of puff in the Ed Chaney Cup final against Northern United this Saturday which kicks off at Fraser Park, Avalon at 12:30pm.
Note: The only active winning streak believed to be longer in Wellington senior Club Rugby at present is the Ories Vatos who have won 45 games in a row in Reserve Grade Division I.
About the Ed Chaney Cup
Henry Edward Cornawll (Ed) Chaney played for Johnsonville in the 1920s before the forming of Tawa and also served the WRFU as an administrator and B selector for many seasons. The trophy was established in 1968, and for many years it has been the championship title of the old Senior 1 grade, now Premier 2. Tawa were the first winners.
The last 10 Ed Chaney Cup winners have been:
2015: Old Boys University
2016: Hutt Old Boys Marist
2018: Marist St Pat’s
2019: Northern United
2020: Marist St Pat’s
What: Ed Chaney Cup Premier 2 Division 1 Final
Where: Fraser Park #2
Who: Tawa v Northern United
When: Saturday 13 August, 12.30pm