A big weekend of rugby just gone, and it continues this coming weekend, albeit a bit quieter with fewer games and competitions in action.
Of course, it will be wall-to-wall Rugby World Cup coverage, heading into the opening match of the tournament in Paris between France and the All Blacks next Saturday morning, kick-off 6.00am NZT.
Dropping it down a few levels, there is U18 and U19 rugby this Saturday.
Round two of the Trustbank Cup Hurricanes U18 competition is this weekend. Matches are:
- Whanganui v Hawke’s Bay Saracens (Whanganui)
- Wellington Centurions v Wellington Samoans (Wellington – Lyndhurst Park)
- Poverty Bay v Horowhenua-Kapiti (Napier)
- Wairarapa-Bush v Wellington Maori (Masterton)
The Wellington U18 girls and the Wellington Centurions U18 girls meet in a second match at Lyndhust Park this coming Saturday.
The third and final round of the Hurricanes U19 competition sees the Wellington U19s play Manawatu (venue TBC) and the Hawke’s Bay U19s play the Hurricanes Heartland U20s in Napier. Following their last-gasp 27-26 win on Saturday over Hawke’s Bay, Wellington just needs to beat winless Manawatu to retain this title.
The OBU Scallywags host Takapuna in their National Knockout Cup U85kg competition semi-final. Details of this match to come.
The Wellington Centurions senior men’s team end their 2023 campaign in Blenheim against Tasman B.
As per the previous draw, Wellington Maori are scheduled to meet Auckland Maori in Auckland.
There is also a catch-up First XV Traditional (previously postponed) on Tuesday between Hutt Valley High School and Whanganui High School. Kick-off at neutral Levin’s Playford Park is 11.00am.
The Wellington Lions play the Waikato Mooloo in Hamilton in their round six NPC match on Friday night. Having retained the Ranfurly Shield thus far, they have a fair chance of retaining it for the year. Following this match they play Bay of Plenty away, then they return home for defences against North Harbour and Hawke’s Bay to end the round-robin season.
What a great win by Southland Boys’ High School on Sunday in winning the Boys Top 4 title. The school from the worst NPC team and from a non-Super Rugby base takes the spoils.
Manukura deserved their Girls Top 4 win too, beating Hamilton Girls’ High School in their final.
A busy game for the Wellington Centurions on Saturday for loose forward George Risale. The Tawa player started the game at blindside flanker and later moved to No. 8, and was Wellington’s captain. He came back to Wellington club rugby at the start of this year after playing in Japan for several seasons. The battle of the breakdown was a feature of their 55-19 win over their Hawke’s Bay opposites and he made several big plays as well as registering a try.
In the backs, first five Callum Harkin has put his broken hand from several weeks ago behind him and is back at his best. Second five Ethan Webster-Nonu doesn’t want the season to end, and fullback Zane Ainslie, another player injured for much of this year for HOBM, showed some good touches in the first half.
Hawke’s Bay were captained by Tiaki Fabish, who is no stranger to Wellington audiences as a leading Old Boys University loose forward in recent years. Fabish had a typically strong game, and scored perhaps the try of the match here:
A bruising match-up for the Wellington U19s forwards against their opposites, some of whom will be better for it having faced off against their Junior Magpies opposites. For Wellington, blindside flanker Matolu Petaia rose to the challenge of playing against some of his former teammates at Hastings Boys’ High School last year. Jeremiah Avei-Collins made an error (a simple dropped pass and knock-on) that led directly to Hawke’s Bay’s try just after halftime and a 26-14 lead at the time, but he too rose after this and played really well for the rest of the game as Wellington came back to win 27-26. In the midfield, Emmanuel Solomona had a running battle with his opposites who were of similar physical stature as him. He won some contests and was beaten by a few others but ultimately came out on top.
Hawke’s Bay had a healthy band of travelling supporters too. A good trip down to Wellington for them, although their teams couldn’t get the wins.
We have asked this before in this space, but how difficult is it to provide basic scoreboards at rugby games? Two representative games at Rugby League Park on Saturday, one very close and the other high scoring, and the few hundred spectators there (including many visitors from Hawke’s Bay) were obliged to keep their own score and time as none were provided at the ground.
Shout out to the pair of young Wellington lads who were cheering the Wellington teams on from the sideline voraciously throughout both games, particularly in the closing stages of the U19s game. Their encouragement were rewarded as they were right there on the spot when Wellington won at the end. Shades of many young chaps willing teams on at Athletic Park in days gone by!
Rugby World Cup viewing tactics? With so many interruptions and stoppages, games could be almost unwatchable live. So if the opening match is at 6.00am this coming Saturday, then record it and set your alarms for 7.00am to start watching it. Then by the time you fast-forward all the stoppages and halftime and then more stoppages you will have just about caught up in real time.
On the subject of Sky Television, how sloppy are their graphics these days? Mistakes and factual errors aplenty, although some of that can be out down to the person in the ‘truck’ out back pushing the wrong button. We did that job for a couple of ODI cricket internationals back in the day and it was a long day that worked out at below minimum wage (which was well known at the time but the extra money for bills was needed). But there have also been a handful of instances this year that we’ve spotted of putting up blatantly wrong historical snippets. These will be pre-written. Here’s one below, with two factual errors in one sentence:
Also, why don’t commentators on Sky ever tell us anything about reserve players?
Salesi Rayasi’s [injured] replacement on the left wing Xavier Tito-Harris scored a hat-trick on debut for Auckland against Southland yesterday. Hat-tricks on debut?
Last week the NZR released its governance review. We haven’t had the time to sit down and read through it yet so will reserve commentary on this. But at first glance it suggests that club rugby is not the problem with the game in this country. If anything it needs more support and it can flourish again (which most will already know). It can be found here: https://www.nzrugby.co.nz/governance-review/
As a starter, here are some of the challenges to the game that were identified:
Moana Pasifika is pleased to announce the signing of Wellington Lions winger Pepesana Patafilo through to 2025. After making his Super Rugby debut for the Hurricanes in 2021 and moving south to the title-winning Crusaders for the 2023 season, Patafilo has found his new home with Moana Pasifika. Hailing from the villages of Magiagi and Vailima, he is relishing in the opportunity to represent his Samoan heritage.
“I’m looking forward to joining Moana Pasifika” says Pepesana. “I can’t wait to represent my family and culture and I’m grateful to be given an opportunity to express myself and what I have learnt on my journey so far.”
Julian Savea announced on Saturday he was leaving the Hurricanes.
The 33-year-old scored 60 tries in 152 Super Rugby appearances for the Hurricanes over 11 seasons.
Club Rugby understands that two high profile Wellington Hurricanes players are joining Patafilo at Moana Pasifika next year. This pair hasn’t been announced yet, but in once case refer to the above item about Savea and join the dots. The other we will let the announcement play out soon in case the source for this is wrong and to not do hype in this space.
Asafo Aumua is reportedly on standby to join the All Blacks with George Bell back in the NPC for Canterbury.
This is one reason why the NZRU should be crushing rugby league, not letting it flourish in this country – absolute thuggery:
A comedown for the Manawatu Turbos on Sunday, losing to a resurgent Tasman 58-19 on Sunday. But this was only a few days after they were celebrating their 33-31 win over Auckland.
Doug Rollerson scored the try for Manawautu when they last beat Auckland at Eden Park in 1980 (4-3) before this win.
Many heroes for the Turbos in this match, but first five Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula was one player to stand out. The former St Andrew’s College, Christchurch student, with family ties to Richie Mounaga is one of several Turbos who have been in their academy system for a couple of years and now starting to come through the ranks. Former Feilding High School flanker TK Howden was captain and the Player of the Match. A debut for the Turbos in this match off the bench for Oriental-Rongotai outside back Pena Va’a.
South Canterbury extended their unbeaten run in the Heartland Championship to 25 games. Auckland enjoyed runs of 34 and 45 wins in a row in the 1980s.
Horowhenua-Kapiti reversed a sketchy start to the season by beating Hurricanes partners Wairarapa-Bush 24-19 at home on Saturday. Wairarapa-Bush’s 60-point win in the U18s curtain-raiser over at Playford Park is a small worry though. This coming weekend Horowhenua-Kapiti and Wairarapa-Bush are both at home to Buller and King Country respectively.
In the Women’s NPC, Manawatu scored a record 73 points in an NPC/FPC semi-final on Saturday in their win over Tasman. Manawatu will host the Northland Kauri in the Championship final this coming Saturday.
Defending champions Canterbury take on Waikato in the Women’s Farah Palmer Cup Premiership decider.
1,000 Points In A First XV Season
In 24 games (21 wins) this season Westlake Boys’ High School scored a staggering 1,225 points. Excluding pre-season fixtures, Isaac Murray-McGregor scored 257 points by himself. Westlake extended their unbeaten run in the North Harbour Championship, which they’ve won 20 times since 1985, to 29 consecutive matches. Westlake held the Moascar Cup for the first time since 1989.
Only four schools have scored 1000 points in a season and won or shared the National Top Four. They are:
- 1994: Gisborne Boys’ High School, 25 wins, 0 defeats, 1,148 points
- 1997: Wesley College, 26 wins, 6 defeats, 1,014 points
- 2001: Wesley College, 19 wins, 0 defeats, 1,045 points
- 2002: Napier Boys’ High School, 22 wins, 1 draw, 1 defeat, 1,088 points
- 2004: Wesley College, 23 wins, 1 draw, 1 defeat, 1,317 points
- 2017: Hastings Boys’ High School, 20 wins, 1 draw, 1,035 points
Otago Boys’ High School won 24 games on the trot and scored 1,348 points en route to the 2012 National final which they lost to St Kentigern College (7-31). Scots College scored 1,026 points in 2015 but lost the National final to Rotorua Boys’ High School (27-36).
Feilding High School, featuring All Black Codie Taylor, scored 1,022 points in 26 games (24 wins) on their way to winning the now defunct National Co-Ed competition in 2009.
It’s possible the record for most points in a season is held by Kelston Boys’ High School who amassed 1,415 in 1998. They won 30 out of 31 games failing to Otago Boys’ High School in the National Top Four semi-final. Otago went on to become the first South Island school to win a share of the title in a 5-5 tie with Rotorua Boys’ High School. Two All Blacks scored tries, Craig Newby for Rotorua and Richie McCaw for Otago.
Incredibly, St Stephens School scored 1,141 points in winning all 23 games in 1975 when tries were only worth four points. In 1977 they won 33 games, but records have vanished in Bombay. In the days of three-point tries, St. Stephen’s won 26 out of 26 games in 1963 and scored 824 points.
What about Wellington? In 2017 St Patrick’s College, Silverstream scored 957 points in 18 games (17 wins). Their 1988 First XV won 24 of 25 games and scored 897 points including 164 four-point tries. The 2009 Wellington College First XV scored 903 points in 22 games (19 wins) while the unbeaten 2007 side (21 wins, one draw) scored 722 points. The 1986 St. Pats Town First XV was unblemished in 22 games and scored 762 points including 148 four-point tries. Scots College made National finals in 2014 and 2015 with freewheeling teams. The 2014 team in 21 games (17 wins) scored 770 points (116 tries) but the 2015 team topped that tally with 1026 points in 24 games (20 wins).