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Sideline Conversions 27 March (some rugby news and information to start the new rugby week)

Jumping for joy: Brad Shields takes the field for his 100th Super Rugby match in 2018. The Hurricanes have announced today that he is returning in 2024 to play for the team. PHOTO: Stewart Baird. 

Updated: Week 1 is upon us for many club rugby competitions throughout the land, including Wellington where up to five grades kick off on Saturday.

The Premier Swindale Shield is locked in, as well as the first round Premier 2 draw, which was issued over the weekend. The second-tier reverts to a single-round format for the Harper Lock Shield this season, followed by the same playoff structure as the Premiers for the Ed Chaney and HD Morgan Memorial Cups. This means clubs will have their second side at the same venue as their top teams, with the exception of clubs drawn to play Wellington – who have been unable to field a second side again this year – away and whose Bs teams will instead travel to Stokes Valley for 2.45pm kickoffs at Delaney Park instead.

The Colts Women’s and U85kg competitions draws are expected to released today or very shortly.

We will have our first competition match-day preview of the year on Friday, and some more pre-season material during the week including the annual Wellington Premier competition ‘Gains & Losses’ on Wednesday.

First round matches at a glance (home team first):

#1 – Petone v Norths
#2 – OBU v Tawa
#3 – Marist St Pats v Avalon
#4 – Upper Hutt Rams v Pare-Plim
#5 – Ories v Wellington
#6 – Poneke v J’ville
#7 – Wainui v HOBM


A big weekend of rugby coming up in Palmerston North, with week one of club rugby and then the Hurricanes playing there on Sunday afternoon against the Western Force.

An emphatic 59-0 win for the Hurricanes over Moana Pasifika on Saturday in Auckland. Congratulations to hooker Asafo Aumua for playing his 50th match for the Hurricanes.


Poneke hosted Taranaki’s Tukapa for the Zemba Cup in their pre-season match up on Rugby League Park on Saturday. In fine, windy conditions Poneke won 35-19, but only sealed victory in the last couple of minutes. Leading 21-19, and a player down owing to a tackling indiscretion and card, Poneke turned on their afterburners in the 78th minute and scored two converted tries, through lock Ezekiel Fiso (his second) and fullback Nick Robertston. Prior to that it was a tight tussle. Poneke had scrum dominance, but Tukapa impressed in most other areas. Poneke scored the game’s first try, but Tukapa scored two searing tries at the end of the first half to lead 14-7 at the interval. The second half remained close.

Last year’s Taranaki champions Tukapa return home to host cross-town rivals Spotswood in week one of their competition, whilst Poneke are down on Kilbirnie Park to play Johnsonville.


Down on the flat, Oriental-Rongotai won 5 tries to 2 over Petone in their Premier pre-season fixture. For Petone, new recruit Stanley Solomon scored a try in the fourth quarter, while Petone halfback Cam Ferreira was in good early season form.


At Naenae College, the Old Boys University Premiers beat  their Avalon Wolves counterparts 49-7.


The first round of the Hawke’s Bay Nash Cup Premier competition got underway on Saturday. New Premier club Aotea beat Tamatea 38-12, with Sam Jones scoring five tries. Former Wellington players Tamati Samuels and Sheridan Rangihuna got amongst it in Napier Tech’s 69-12 win over Clive, Hastings beat Napier Pirate 20-12, while NOBM edged Central 35-34 and MAC pipped Havelock North 25-22 in two close affairs.


Horowhenua-Kapiti Ramsbotham Cup Premier Competition Week 1 Results:

  • Rahui 31 v Paraparaumu 6
  • Levin College Old Boys 46 v Levin Wanderers 10
  • Foxton 7 v Shannon 9
  • Waikanae Bye.


Club Rugby wishes former Marist St Pat’s player and Wellington rugby identity Trent Eagle (now living in Australia) all the best, following the passing of his wife last week.


One player left out of our midweek story last week looking at some school leavers to watch was St Pat’s Silverstream prop/flanker Patrick Solomona. He has left school, but his name wasn’t in any correspondence or seen anywhere so we weren’t sure what he was doing. We have received an update that he still deciding where he will be playing this year, owing to his fulltime job in construction that takes him over the region. One of last year’s leading First XV competition players, it would be a shame if he stops playing this season.

Another was Sione Baker, the talented former Mana College midfielder. It is understood he has headed down south to join the Stags Academy.


The Blues have been crowned 2023 Super Rugby U20s Champions following a 50-36 win over the Hurricanes at Owen Delany Park in Taupō on Saturday.

Coached by Steven Bates, the Blues were the stand-out team over three match days, scoring 50 or more points in all three of their matches against the Fijian Drua (51-7), the New Zealand Barbarians (51-26) and the Hurricanes in the final.

Recent All Blacks Sevens player and outside back Caleb Tangitau was a key figure for the Blues including two tries of his side’s seven in the final, while hooker Valentino Taito also grabbed a brace, and first five Byron Smith scored 20 points with a try, six conversions and a penalty.

The Hurricanes were not without their own stand out players with lock Hunter Morrison grabbing two tries in the final, and first-five Harry Godfrey awarded the Sir John Graham Player of the Tournament award.

Blues 50 (Valentino Taito (2), Caleb Tangitau (2), Leo Gordon, Byron Smith, Sam Hainsworth-Fa’aofo tries; Byron Smith 6 con, pen). Hurricanes 36 (Hunter Morrison (2), Toby Crosby, Jordi Viljoen, Vernon Bason tries; Harry Godfrey, 4 con, pen). HT: 19-10 Blues

2023 Super Rugby U20 Results:
Location: Owen Delany Park, Taupō

Pool 1: Blues, Crusaders, Fijian Drua, New Zealand Barbarians Under 21
Pool 2: Chiefs, Highlanders, Hurricanes, Moana Pasifika

Match Day 1 | Sunday 19 March
11.05am Fijian Drua 7 v Blues 51
12.55pm Hurricanes 64 v Moana Pasifika 19
2.45pm Crusaders 27 v New Zealand Barbarians 35
4.35pm Highlanders 28 v Chiefs 18

Match Day 2 | Wednesday 22 March
11.05am Fijian Drua 22 v Crusaders 50
12.55pm Moana Pasifika 20 v Chiefs 52
2.45pm Semi-Final 1: Blues 51 v NZ Barbarians 26
4.35pm Semi-Final 2: Hurricanes 36 v Highlanders 26

Match Day 3 | Saturday 25 March
11.05am 7th/8th Play-off – Fijian Drua 33 v Moana Pasifika 26
12.55pm 5th/6th Play-off – Crusaders 29 v Chiefs 31
2.45pm 3rd/4th Play-off – NZ Barbarians 22 v Highlanders 41
4.35pm Super Rugby Under 20 Final – Blues 50 v Hurricanes 36


The Hurricanes Poua finished third at the conclusion of the Super Rugby Aupiki competition. MSP’s Monica Tagoai scored two tries as they beat the Blues 29-24 after making a fast start and then hanging on.

The South Island Matatū won the final, beating the Chiefs Manawa 33-32 after coming back from 19-0 down. The Chiefs had a penalty in front to win with the last play of the match but missed it, reminiscent of the Wellington women’s final a decade or so ago.

With rest periods at the end of the Super Rugby Aupiki, Black Ferns probably now being more protected like the All Blacks (unconfirmed, but an assumption), some players in the Australian Super Rugby Women’s competition just starting, and other reasons, let’s hope that depth isn’t affected in women’s club rugby in 2023 in Wellington and elsewhere.


There were 96 tries scored in Super Rugby Aupiki.

Renee Holmes‘ 23 points in the Super Rugby Aupiki final equalled the record for most points in a Super Rugby final (male or female). In the 2014 final Bernard Foley scored 23 points (seven penalties and a conversion) in the Waratahs 33-32 win over the Crusaders in Sydney.


A convincing 48-5 win for Feilding High School over Wellington College in their inter-squad pre-season fixture on Saturday at Feilding.


The 2023 National Provincial Championship draw was released last week

The Wellington Lions and Manawatu Turbos open the competition for the Coronation Cup in Palmerston North on Saturday 5 August at 2.05pm.

The Lions then face Southland in their first Ranfurly Shield defence of the season in week three in Wellington on Saturday 19 August. Regrettably, given there will also be a full round of representative and Hurricanes school games on that day (TBC), this fixture is at 2.05pm. What they will probably do is shovel an important representative or school match on to the Stadium at 11.00am for a made for TV fixture that benefits no one.

Should the Lions keep the Ranfurly Shield, they then host Tasman four days later on that Saturday night! If they get through that then Wellington rugby fans can party like its 1953.

The full draw can be found HERE and run through our website in due course.


Since when did international experience became a prerequisite to become All Blacks coach? How can you gain international experience when no one will give you international experience? Did people forget domestic titles are actually really hard to win. Jamie Joseph lost the 2008 and 2009 NPC finals with the Wellington Lions. The Hurricanes could have won four Super Rugby titles in six years between 2015 and 2019. They ended up with one. In 2015 they lost the final at home to the Joseph coached Highlanders who they’d beaten 56-20 in the round robin. In 2017 they were a mile ahead of the Lions in the semi at halftime and lost and in 2019 were robbed by the Crusaders in Christchurch at the same stage of the competition.


Freddie Stewart had his red card for England against Ireland judged it was unfair. What is the point of these hearings long after the fact when the referee faces no official sanction for the error?


A public notice for all readers and Facebook administrators.

If you see a post like this, usually in the comments to your posts, it is a SCAM:


  • It is an imposter – our FB page is
  • Plus, we are not live-streaming matches.
  • Please delete and report as such using the three dots above the comment.
  • We have reported this fake page and others like it, but it is a bit like the game of ‘whack a mole’ and these keep appearing under different names.
  • There are other versions going around, and are popping up on multiple pages.

Rugby Australia have just dropped a reported AU$1.6 million a season into buying a teenager player. Joesph Suaalii is currently playing in the NRL this year and next, before being parachuted into the Wallabies for their Spring tour of 2024. He has a rugby background and was on the wing for the Australian Schoolboys against the School Blacks in 2019.


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