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Sideline conversions 13 February (community rugby news and information to start the week)

The 15s season is underway, with matches coming up this Friday and Saturday:

  • Friday: Hurricanes v Crusaders, Super Rugby pre-season, 5.00pm Levin Domain.
  • Saturday: Hurricanes Women v South Island Women, Porirua Park (kick-off TBC)
  • Saturday: Hawke’s Bay U20s v Wellington U20s, Palmerston North (venue and kick-off TBC)


Changes to the Swindale Shield draw incoming. This from the WRFU late Friday:

Due to late communication of ground unavailability for Fraser Park, Avalon RFC’s round one and two fixtures are unable to take place as scheduled. As a result of this, the Swindale Shield draw will need to be reissued to accommodate for this unexpected circumstance and not to disadvantage Avalon RFC. This new version is being worked on as we speak and will be provided early next week. In the meantime, we have removed the previous version from the WRFU website.


The opening match of the Hurricanes U20s series was played at the new facilities at Trentham on Saturday. A hot day and a healthy local crowd.

Manawatu had the advantage over the first half hour, their scrum and work at the breakdown their strong suites but also making some erratic errors.

As the cliché goes, Wellington weathered the storm, and they came back to dominate the final 10 minutes of the spell and laid on three tries. The first two were through penalties in the corner and lineouts and tries to Tawa hooker Joyner Gaualofa and flanker Neru Scheck and the third was to right wing Francis Metttrick after a break, penalty and scrum in the 22.

Wellington’s dominance continued into the second half and they quickly scored two more unanswered tries, with captain and blindside Dom Ropeti continuing his consistent form from last year. Manawatu came back, with last year’s NZ U19 halfback Jordi Viljoen prominent, but Wellington pulled clear to win comfortably at 48-14.

The only concern was a couple of injuries, notably Upper Hutt Rams No. 8 Toby Crosby going off injured after about 10 minutes with an ankle complaint.

Several players were making their debuts in Wellington colours, including recent Hastings Boys’ High School lock Matolu Petaia (who is from Wellington), recent St John’s College Hamilton midfielder Jack O’Brien, recent Gisborne BHS flyhalf Carlos Hihi and Wellington College’s Stanley Solomon. Petone Colt TJ Clarke played the first 60 minutes or so at first-five (one of four over-age players in Wellington’s team, the others being Gaualofa, HOBM lock Jono Bailey and MSP halfback Logan Love) and former St Bede’s Christchurch midfielder Jackson Wright. Hihi came on at first half and Solomon came on at fullback late in the game.

New Wellington player Jack O’Brien had a busy debut match, including the above spot tackle on Manawatu’s first five Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula early in the game. 


The Hurricanes lost 28-21 to the Blues on Saturday in Auckland in their first outing of the year, the Blues breaking a deadlock and winning with a 78th minute converted try. For the Hurricanes, Devan Flanders (2) and Aidan Morgan were try scorers, with Morgan kicking all three conversions.

Their opposition this Friday, the Crusaders, lost 35-33 to the Highlanders and the Chiefs beat Moana Pasifika 48-7 – a worrying scoreline as far as


A warm-up game for the Hurricanes Women’s side against the Upper Hutt Rams Colts on Sunday:


Dane Coles has announced his retirement for the end of this year.

The 36-year-old wanted to make it official before launching into his final season in New Zealand rugby, starting with the Hurricanes in Super Rugby Pacific.

“Thank you to Pōneke FC, Wellington, the Hurricanes and the All Blacks for giving me my dream job,” Coles said.

“I’m looking forward to enjoying the year and creating some new memories.”

Since his professional debut for Wellington in 2007, his speed and skills have redefined the hooker position.

With 100 Test points (20 tries), he sits third-equal alongside Ardie Savea on the all-time scorers list for All Blacks forwards. Ahead of them are Richie McCaw (135) and Kieran Read (130). In 11 international seasons, the 84-Test veteran has also become the third most-capped hooker in All Blacks history behind Keven Mealamu (132) and Sean Fitzpatrick (92).

Read more HERE


AI image fails: 


In the second week of the Six Nations, Ireland beat France, while Scotland continued their resurgence with a 35-7 win over Wales and England beat Italy 31-14.

Ireland have won 19 of their last 21 tests and 13 in a row at home. France lost a 14 game win streak.



The Wellington Stadium Annual Report was uploaded publicly to their website last week, and can be viewed HERE

There are too few numbers to draw any conclusions for the Wellington Lions but the Hurricanes make for worrying reading. Excluding the restricted attendance Highlanders match there were five matches played with an average of 7,215. This is a record low – the previous season average low for non play off matches was 10,760 in 2021 (the pre-Covid low was 10,884 in 2014 before the revival that led to the title in 2016)
Opponent 2022 2021 Pre- Covid Low
Chiefs 8,047 9,193 10,334
Crusaders 9,307 13,670 12,891
Moana Pasifika 3,369 N/A N/A
Fijian Drua 8,352 N/A N/A
Melbourne Rebels 7,001 7,629 11,541
Average 7,215
It remains to be seen if there will be a post-Covid bounce – while there were no restrictions after the Highlanders match there was still a feeling of unease during the 2022 season. Chiefs, Crusaders and Rebels were all record lows for the Stadium. The Moana Pasifika match was played midweek while the Fijian Drua might have benefitted from being an afternoon match and it being the first time the Hurricanes had played them.
With matches against the Blues, Chiefs, Crusaders, Brumbies, Waratahs and Moana Pasifika this could be a defining season for attendances. Will 2022 be a trend setter or an anomaly ? The Brumbies and Waratahs are better draw cards than the Force and Rebels – the Brumbies were semi-finalists last year and haven’t been in Wellington since the 2015 semi-final. Moana Pasifika are playing late on a Saturday afternoon this season which should boost that crowd, although likely not a rugby playing crowd as there is community rugby on that afternoon. The previous dip was countered by strong on the field performances (a final and a title) plus good membership benefits (low season ticket cost and free bus travel). The pressures on disposal income with the current cost of living issues could affect across the board sports attendances not just super rugby. For now, it’s wait and see with a touch of fingers crossed !


Club Rugby’s Adam Julian has done a piece for another website called ‘New Zealand’s Greatest Coaches Never to have Coached the All Blacks.

See who he’s selected, including two Wellingtonians HERE 

Club Rugby is on the following channels:

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