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Sideline Conversions 23 January (some rugby news from the ground up)

This regular Monday slot is a collaborative effort, so if you have any news or information or want to contribute please seek us out on social media or email


The second week of pre-season training is underway for community clubs and teams. The Hurricanes will be holding their annual ‘Surf to Peak’ race shortly, which used to be well covered and generally marked the start of the year for them as far as the wider public were involved.


The 2023 Swindale Shield and Harper Lock Shield draws release is imminent. The consultation period following the release of the draft draw finished last week and it is understood there are going to be some tweaks from that.


This coming weekend:

“Men’s Grade: Kaierau, Pirates, Ngamatapouri, Palmy Steel, Waiouru Army, Hawkes Bay MAC Jets, Hawke’s Bay Havelock North, Martinborough

Women’s Grade: Marist Whanganui, Old Boys Marist Palmerston North.
Two more spaces left for Women’s Grade, please get in touch with if you would like to enter a Women’s team.”


A significant announcement by the RFU in England late last week in the tweet below and summarised here:

Reduced tackle height for all community rugby 

  • Tackles must be made at the line of the waist and below.
  • The aim is to put players’ heads in the safest possible place by defining in law where the line of the tackle may start.

A greater focus on the actions of the ball carrier  

  • Ball carriers will be encouraged to follow the principle that rugby is a game of evasion, and they should avoid late dipping and thereby avoid creating a situation where a bent tackler may be put at increased risk of head-on-head contact with the ball carrier through a late or sudden change in body height of the ball carrier.
  • Match officials will focus on the actions of the ball carrier as well as the tackler when head contact occurs.

It is important to note that the above rule change is not for New Zealand (yet). The NZRU are bringing in changes but slightly less radical.

These can be read HERE and also pasted to the very bottom of this article.


One of the reasons for this radical change can be read in this article, also from last week, below:

Read more HERE


The Porirua Misfits U14s are heading to Tampa Florida to take part in the Tropical 7s tournament in April, and are running a golf tournament on 17 February.

Friday 17 February 2023
Judgeford Golf Club
10 am Shotgun tee off

Register your team:

* Note the online rego form still says 24th feb please ignore, it is 17 Feburary.
Contact at:


Word that the requirement for Wellington’s 14 Premier clubs to field three teams each week or face penalties is going to be brought back in club rugby in 2023. These teams being a Premier team, a Premier Reserve (second XV) side and a Colts (U21s) team.

This rule was brought in a few seasons ago, but was eased owing to the ravages of Covid. Last year, Northern United, Oriental-Rongotai and the Upper Hutt Rams didn’t have Colts teams.

This is admirable and hard to disagree with – if the players are there.

But are the players there? In particular front rowers. This requirement means that ideally each club has to have 15 fit front rowers each week. So that’s 210 each week in total. Obviously all clubs utilise some of these players so they play for their Premier Reserve team in the 1.00pm match and then bench for their Premiers at 2.45pm. So that number can be reduced. But offsetting that is when injuries and illness hits during the season. Then clubs need to dip down to their pool of players in the Reserve Grade and social grades, thus effecting these teams. It is our opinion that it is vital to keep these grades going and to leave them alone or the game contracts further.  Watch this space.


In on-field news, there were two sevens tournaments this weekend, in Mount Maunganui and Hamilton.

Greerton Marist won Saturday’s Mount Maunganui 7s tournament – a couple of familiar Wellington players in the winning team in the photos below:

Argentina (men’s) and New Zealand (women’s) won the Hamilton Sevens:


Is the ‘annual’ National Club Sevens tournament going ahead this year?


If you have have any news and information for this column or for our social media channels, or story and content ideas, please email or message us on social media.

Club Rugby is on the following channels:

New Zealand Rugby to introduce safety rule changes in 2023

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