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Home > Club Rugby > Sideline Conversions 28 August (some rugby news and information to start the week)

Sideline Conversions 28 August (some rugby news and information to start the week)

Tipped over. Action from the match on Saturday between the Wellington U19s and the Hurricanes Heartland U20s. Wellington won 50-12. Hawke’s Bay beat Manawatu 45-0 in their match and Wellington and Hawke’s Bay play each other in round two this Saturday. Photo: Andy McArthur. 

UPDATES 1.0: The rugby train keeps rolling, heading into September.

After the quietest weekend of matches in the Wellington region since March, the volume of matches in and around the region increases this week.

It actually goes on all week, with both the Hurricanes Regional U14 tournament (Monday-Wednesday at Wakefield Park) and the Hurricanes Regional U15 tournament (Wednesday to Saturday at Maidstone and Fraser Park and St Pat’s Silverstream). Plus the National U85kg College Festival (Wednesday at NZCIS).

The Hurricanes Girls U15 tournament is at Playford Park today and tomorrow.

There is a Champions Trophy First XV tournament in Paraparaumu on Thursday and Friday, between Paraparaumu College, Hutt Valley High School, Dannevirke High School and Wairarapa College.

The Top 4 National First XV competition is this Friday and Sunday at Palmerston North.

No Co-ed Cup this year, but the Hurricanes region is represented by two home Manawatu schools, with Palmerston North Boys’ High School (Boys) and Manukura (girls) flying the yellow flag. This year’s semi-finals see the Hurricanes schools play the South Island winners and the Blues and Chiefs square off in the semi-finals on Friday.

Day one matches are (note these are at Arena Manawatu, not Massey University as per past years):

Girls’ 1st XV Championship – Semi-finals

  • 10.30am MAGS vs HGHS
  • 12.30pm MANUKURA vs CGHS

National 1st XV Championship – Semi-finals

  • 1.10pm Westlake BHS vs Tauranga Boys’ College
  • 2.45pm PNBHS vs SBHS

Some intriguing match-ups, with a first-time Boys champion guaranteed, while Manukura and CGHS drew last year’s final and Hamilton GHS are recent winners.

As discussed last week, PNBHS will head into the Top 4 ‘fresh’ having been defaulted to by Scots, who in turn won the right to contest the Hurricanes final in a series of hearings last week. We have some additional commentary on this at the bottom of this article.

On Saturday, there are three representative matches in Wellington that this website is aware of, these being (kick-off times and venues to be confirmed):

  • Wellington Centurions v Hawke’s Bay Development
  • Wellington U19s v Hawke’s Bay U19s
  • Wellington Maori U18s v Wellington Samoan U18s

The Wellington Lions also return home to play Counties Manukau at Wellington Stadium on Saturday night, kick-off 7.05pm. This is a Ranfurly Shield defence and for the Jonah Lomu Memorial Trophy.

Just up the line, the two lower North Island Heartland Championship unions meet, with Horowhenua-Kapiti hosting Wairarapa-Bush at Levin.

Plus a handful of other teams playing away, such as Wellington Maori scheduled to play their Canterbury counterparts. More details on all of the above, plus anything not covered in Friday’s preview. 


How good has Brad Shields been for the Wellington Lions? Great leadership physically very imposing. He led the tackle count in the grim victory against Tasman with 24.

Sione Halalilo was very lucky to be awarded his 53rd-minute try in the Wellington Lions NPC game against Canterbury on Sunday. Sensational cover from the underrated Billy Harmon. Sione. Get low to the ground and dive near the line. Rugby 101!

After beating Tasman 7-0, the Lions showed their attacking prowess against Canterbury. After both these games, they will be favoured to go far in this year’s competition.

TJ Clarke, Sam Clarke, Chicago Doyle, Kyle Preston, Sione Halalilo, Hugo Plummer, PJ Sheck, Penieli Poasa, Josh Southall, Josiah Tavita-Metcalfe, Sam Howling and Isi Saumaki. A Club Rugby dream team beat the might of Canterbury 36-31 in Christchurch. The hosts were boosted with six current or former internationals (Wellington had three). It should have been more too with greater accuracy in the first half. The Lions scrum and lineout was walking a tightrope in the second half, but some brilliant, intuitive counterattack ensured 19-5 and 31-19 advantages were maintained.

Wellington has won 17 consecutive matches, including two over Canterbury in Christchurch. Their record in the modern era is 18 between 1986 and 1987.


Applications are now open for the St Pat’s Town 1st XV rugby head coach role.
As per process, the position is advertised every two years.
The deadline for applications is 5pm, Friday September 8.
Here is the link to learn more/apply:…/college-first-xv-rugby


A gnarly old game down at the stadium last Wednesday night against Tasman.

A solitary try in the 25th minute to James O’Reilly gave the Lions their 7-0 victory. This was the Lions’ sixth defence of their current tenure, their 105th match for the Ranfurly Shield overall and 45th successful defence ever.

Wellington last held an opponent scoreless in the Ranfurly Shield when they beat Auckland 27-0 at Eden Park to win it in 2008, the first success since 1982. Wellington have held four opponents scoreless in Ranfurly Shield matches and were last held scoreless themselves in 1964 in a 0-3 defeat to Taranaki.

Tasman have been held to 0 five times in their whole history since 2008, in 197 matches up to and including last Wednesday night’s game.

What about lowest scoring matches involving Wellington? There were a few back in the early days, but it seems that the match against Canterbury in 1970, won 3-0 by Canterbury, was Wellington’s lowest scoring fixture of the ‘modern’ era.

Last Wednesday’s 7-0 certainly had shades of Norths v Avalon in round two of the Swindale Shield in 2006.

As well as retaining the Ranfurly Shield last Wednesday, the Lions also retained the Cook Strait Cup against Tasman. Did anyone else have any idea that this even existed? We didn’t. Why don’t most NPC unions promote their interclub trophies? Generally nothing in their media releases and publicity about their upcoming games. It will be interesting to see if either the WRFU or Counties Manukau promotes the Jonah Lomu Trophy this coming Saturday.

An interesting observation by someone at Wellington Stadium last Wednesday were no LEDs in place. All the sideline advertisements were virtual – you could see them only on television – to people at the ground it was just open space. What about a virtual crowd, with holograms and AI technology? Fans could project themselves from their living rooms on to their seats at the Stadium.



Congratulations to Wellington Pride captain Jackie Patea-Fereti for playing her 100th first-class game on Sunday.


Wellington Pride left wing Harmony Kautai scored her second Farah Palmer Cup hat-trick on Sunday, in Wellington’s 31-29 loss to Waikato. Her first was playing for Hawke’s Bay against Tasman two years ago. She has scored 13 tries in 20 FPC games. Earlier this season she scored a hat-trick playing for Petone against Ories in Wellington women’s club rugby. Petone won 36-31 that day.


Aaron Cruden a familiar name on the Waikato Mooloo teamsheet for the first time this year this weekend. Cruden has been playing in Japan and last played in the NPC in 2016 for his home province Manawatu.


Horowhenua-Kapiti are propping up the points table after three rounds of the Heartland Championship. They lost 43-14 to Mid Canterbury on Saturday.

The points table is: South Canterbury 15, Thames Valley 14, North Otago,East Coast 11, West Coast,Wairarapa-Bush 10, Poverty Bay,Whanganui 7, King Country 4, Buller 1, Horowhenua-Kapiti 0.

This coming weekend the two lower North Island unions meet, with Horowhenua-Kapiti hosting Wairarapa-Bush at Levin.


Hookers continue to rack up the tries in the NPC and FPC competitions this year. Hookers got on the scoresheet in eight of 12 games this past weekend, crossing for a collective 13 tries in the 12 games played. As a comparison, wingers scored 33 tries in these games.


A big loss recently of Ron Palenski – many of his books grace our bookshelf.


Counties Manukau Heat thrashed the Hawke’s Bay Tui 63-26 in the Farah Palmer Cup on Saturday with former Black Ferns first-five Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali producing a dazzling masterclass well worth watching. In addition to a try-saving tackle she directly created four tries with four precise kick-passes. The kicks were short, long, high, and low in a display of skill few players in the FPC would get close to replicating. A third of all kicks Subritzky-Nafatali has made this season have been regained by the Heat. She has plenty of variation with her passing and can run too. One of the great enigmas of New Zealand Rugby.

Ruby Tui has 27 tries in 30 first-class matches.


The All Blacks biggest defeat of all time was 17-40 against Sydney in 1992. Their largest losing margin to South Africa was 0-17 in 1928.

With Scott Barrett suspended and Brodie Retalick injured have the All Blacks missed a trick with their lock selections? A Dominic Bird, Luke Romano-type player in the suffocating, rigorous style likely to dominate the World Cup would have been very valuable.

Fiji has beaten Tier I countries, Italy, Wales, Scotland, Australia (1952, 54) and France (2018) in fully fledged fifteen aside internationals. Their 30-22 win over England at Twickenham this weekend though might rank as the greatest win in their XV’s history. Commentator Martin Gillingham: “England’s fortress is the temple of doom.”

What about France beating Australia 41-17 overnight in their warm-up fixture! Are the All Blacks about 25 points off the pace of the big boys in this year’s Rugby World Cup? Or are these games meaningless? Have these teams showed their hand and gone out too fast, like the Mongolian runner in the Men’s Marathon at the World Athletics Championships on Sunday.

France has won 14 tests in a row at home. Their previous record is 11 in the 1970s.

Australia has conceded 34 yellow cards and five reds in their last 39 tests.


Questions and Issues from the Scots College v Fielding High School Dispute?

A bizarre week without precedent in secondary schools’ rugby with Scots College First XV last Tuesday disqualified from their Hurricanes Regional final against Palmerston North Boys’ High School on Saturday only to be reinstated on appeal on Thursday. Scots then defaulted at 9.00pm on Friday night on safety grounds.

The previous Saturday, Scots beat Fielding High School 43-35 in the Hurricanes semi-final in Miramar but a dispute over the number of Scots’ front row players led to Feilding appealing the result to the Hurricanes Youth Rugby Council, and the outcome was overturned, with the game awarded to Feilding.

The game went to uncontested scrums early in the first half as Scots had an injury and did not have sufficient front row reserves to cover.

The laws state a team should have five front row players in the squad of 22 – three starters and two reserves. If the team only has four front row players, then it can only have a squad of 21 and if it has only three front row players, then it can only have 20 players in the squad. Full Domestic Safety Law Variations (DSLV) can be found here

Scots appealed their disqualification and at a lengthy New Zealand Secondary Schools Rugby Union online hearing on Thursday night the decision was overturned despite an internal source within the Hurricanes Youth Rugby Council advising Club Rugby that the New Zealand Secondary Schools Rugby Union described the Hurricanes Youth Rugby Council case as “clear, swift and succinct.”

In Thursday’s New Zealand Secondary Schools Rugby Union appeal hearing Scots were found to have supplied the incorrect team sheet. It is understood there was a technicality that Feilding contacted the incorrect person at the schools’ rugby union to lodge their initial protest.

For the sake of transparency will the minutes from the Thursday hearing be released and if so when and where?

Feilding contacted the incorrect person. Who is the right person to contact and why didn’t they know? Feilding lodged a serious complaint with the wrong person. That’s like calling an Uber when you need an ambulance.

Superiority in the scrums offers a psychological and physical advantage over your opposition but would this have changed the result? In college rugby you’re only allowed to push 1.5m, so are depowered scums as big an advantage as they would be in a higher-level contest? The No.8 is also not permitted to run from the back of the scrum. Feilding’s No.8 Mosese Bason is their captain, played every game this season and has been described as a New Zealand Schools’ contender. His brother Vernon played NZ Schools too.

Are Feilding suffering from a bad case of sour grapes? The following video makes for compelling viewing on YouTube.

How can the Wellington Premiership Champions and a top-eight school in New Zealand have an inadequate number of front rowers? Scots’ roll is only marginally smaller than Hastings Boys’ High School which won the National Top Four in 2017 and 2019. Wesley College in the past won National titles five times with a smaller roll than Scots.

Scots were found to have supplied the incorrect team sheet. How did this happen so late in the season with an experienced coaching staff and a paid Rugby Director (a luxury most schools don’t have) who has coached professionally?

This is the third time in four years that Scots have botched important paperwork with the previous two cases leading to deductions in points in the Wellington Premiership. Last year six points were wiped from Scots tally which ultimately cost them a place in the semi-finals.

Scots 2nd XV plays in Premier 4 in Wellington. They finished 3rd in the round-robin. On July 29 they were beaten in the 3 v 6 quarter final of the Onslow Cup 22-7 by the 4th XV of St Patrick’s College Silverstream. Following a default by St Pat’s Town in the Plate semi-final, Scots earned the right to contest the Plate final (for fifth place) against Hutt Valley High School. The match was cancelled meaning that out of 38 open-weight Wellington Secondary School teams, Scots 2nd XV effectively tied for 35th place.  Scots Under 15’s competed in Division 2 and made the final which they lost. This might explain their lack of front row depth and why a source revealed to Club Rugby Scots was the only school to resist a reduction in ‘new to school’ numbers in Wellington. The ‘new to school’ rule/issue was a source of real discontent in Auckland.

Scots have won four out of the last five Wellington Premierships. Despite success why are their numbers not growing? Generally, numbers have been falling but St Patrick’s College, Silverstream and Hutt Valley High School were two schools to buck the trend with an increased number of teams.

Rightly or wrongly there exists a perception that a wealthier party “lawyers up” to settle disputes that don’t go their way. Is this fair? If this is the case what message does that send to young teenagers? How, can it be avoided? Can things be settled in a less arduous way?

An open letter from the Principal here:

Most pertinently why/should hard-working, talented boys who play in good faith be punished for the negligence of adults?

A review into the governance of New Zealand Secondary Schools Rugby is due to be released next week. There was a review five years ago too.

Scots College competes in an Independent Schools First XV competition at King’s College, Auckland this week. Curiously the tournament was scheduled in the same week as the National Top Four though this isn’t without precedent. The Presbyterian Quad involving Scots, St Kent’s, St Andrew’s, and Lindisfarne was once staged at the same time but moved when three of the four schools attended Nationals more than once.

Who will play prop for Scots? Because the tournament is independent it’s not subject to the same eligibility rules as the National competition. Wellington Under 16 prop Brandon Lo who wasn’t available for the Feilding game because he is “new to school” will likely cover one of the prop positions.

Independent Schools 1XV Competition


  • King’s College v St Andrew’s College, 3:30pm – King’s 1
  • Christ’s College v St Kentigern College, 3:30pm – King’s 2


  • St Kentigern College v St Andrew’s College, 1.45pm – King’s 1
  • Christ’s College v Scots College, 2.45pm – King’s 2
  • King’s College v St Paul’s Collegiate, 3.30pm – King’s 1


  • St Kentigern College v Scots College, 10.30am – Kings 3
  • St Andrew’s College v St Paul’s Collegiate, 10.30am – King’s 2
  • King’s College v Christ’s College, 10.30am – King’s 1

Last but not least, if you haven’t already it would be much appreciated if you could head over to the link below and vote in our polls. It helps us start planning for the future.

[Polls] Surveying the audience for future direction of Club Rugby

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