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Petone’s Stanley Solomon and Justine McGregor win Best and Fairest club rugby competitions

  • By Steven White

Petone backs Stanley Solomon and Justine McGregor have won this year’s respective Men’s and Women’s Wellington club rugby Best and Fairest competitions.

Solomon won the Men’s Billy Wallace Trophy and McGregor the Women’s Erin Rush Cup, at the combined Wellington Lions/WRFU Community Awards held in the Norwood Room at the Basin Reserve on Tuesday evening.

As well as both playing for Petone and both being exciting backs, the other parallel both these winners have in common is youth. It is believed that Solomon is the youngest winner of the Billy Wallace, starting the year aged 17 and first year out of Wellington College. McGregor is still at school at St Mary’s College and not 18 until April next year.

The Billy Wallace competition has been contested annually since its inception in 1966. Players in every Premier club rugby match are awarded points on a 3, 2 and 1 basis. Formerly chosen by newspaper correspondents, the points are currently allocated by WRRA match officials.

Playing most of his matches on the wing, Solomon is also the first player predominantly in that position win since Bernie Fraser (Hutt Valley Marist) in 1978.  Several fullbacks have won, such as 2020 joint winner Sam Reid (OBU) and Petone’s Allan Hewson who won it twice (1979 and 1986).

Solomon is also the first winner from Petone since flanker Mateaki Kafatolu in 2010. A Petone player has now won this eight times.

After making his Premier debut off the bench at the start of round three, he made a run of six consecutive starts on the wing, scoring 11 tries in this period including four in one match against Tawa in Petone’s 41-17 first round win over them. This was followed by a seat on Petone’s bench against Paremata-Plimmerton and then three more starts on the wing, scoring a hat-trick against Avalon.

A first-five at school, Solomon was then in the 10 jersey for Petone’s last two outings of the year in the Hardham Cup, helping them beat Marist St Pat’s 30-13 in the final and scoring the match-sealing try in that decider.

Solomon’s post-club campaign with the Wellington U19s was disrupted by a hamstring injury, but he returned to play a couple of U18s represeantive matches and then was selected for the New Zealand Maori U18s.

Similarly, McGregor had a strong year in her first full season of club rugby, playing for Petone. She then went on to play for the Wellington Pride and make her debut for the Black Ferns XV.

A recent story we did with Justine McGregor, in conjunction with College Sport Wellington, is below.

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These two awards were two of 28 handed out on the night.

A full list of winners will be up on the WRFU website

In some of these, other individual award winners, St Pat’s Silverstream flanker Drew Berg-McLean was the U16 Player of the Year, Scots College captain and No. 8 Harry Irving was the U18 Boys Player of the Year, Tawa loose forward Matolu Petaia was the U19 player of the Year and Upper Hutt Rams loose forward Toby Crosby was the Development Player of the Year.

Action during the premier rugby match between Tawa v Paramata-Plimmerton, on 22 April 2023, at Ngati Toa Domain, Mana,Wellington, New Zealand. Final score 45-24 to the Paramata-Plimmerton

U19 Player of the Year Matolu Petaia.

Tomas Roche was the Referee of the Year and Ories flanker Dominic Ropeti won the coveted Player of the Wellington Academy Al Keown Cup.

Some high performance winners included Petone’s Losi Filipo being named the Lions Player of the Year and MSP’s Monica Tagoai the Pride Player of the Year.

Petone’s TJ Clarke was the Lions Rookie of the Year and Sophie Irving and Harmony Kautai were the joint Pride Rookies of the Year.

Losi Filipo (with ball in hand) and Tomas Roche, Lions Player of the Year and Referee of the Year.

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The last 15 winners of the Billy Wallace Best & Fairest competition have been:

  • 2009: Misipalauni Monanau (Poneke)
  • 2010: Mateaki Kafatolu (Petone)
  • 2011: Liu Taituave (Marist St Pat’s)
  • 2012: Sharn Eru (Wainuiomata) / Ardie Savea (Oriental-Rongotai)
  • 2013: Sam Tui (Poneke)
  • 2014: Ben Tupuola (Wainuiomata)
  • 2015: TJ Fermanis (Tawa) / Adam Deck (Wellington)
  • 2016: Peniasi Tokakece (Tawa)
  • 2017: Ben Tupuola (Wainuiomata) / Hemi Fermanis (Tawa)
  • 2018: Greg Foe (Poneke)’
  • 2019: Kemara Hauiti-Parapara (Tawa)
  • 2020: Sam Reid (OBU) and Bruce Kauika-Petersen (Norths)
  • 2021: Kemara Hauiti-Parapara (Tawa)
  • 2022: Callum Harkin (Old Boys University)
  • 2023: Stanley Solomon (Petone)

The first three winners of the Erin Rush Cup have been:

  • 2021: Thamsyn Newton (Paremata-Plimmerton)
  • 2022: Thamsyn Newton (Marist St Pat’s) and Kaia Pollock (Paremata-Plimmerton) SHARED
  • 2023: Justine McGregor (Petone)

Justine McGregor selected as youngest player in Black Ferns XV

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