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Sideline Conversions 25 October (Some midweek rugby news and information)

The 2023 season is rapidly coming to a close, and with it this column for this year. See below for some midweek news and information. 

An entertaining, positive day out in sunny conditions at Naenae College on Monday for the annual Condor Sevens tournament, with some great rugby played. Scots College and St Pat’s Silverstream (Boys) and St Mary’s College and Sacred Heart College (Girls) all qualified for the National tournament in December. The Hutt Valley High School U15s were popular winners of their grade.

There is more school sevens this coming weekend in Palmerston North with the Sir Gordon Tietjens tournament hosted by Palmerston North Boys’ High School. Details and draw to come, but it is over two days and there is an Open Boys and Girls and Boys and Girls U15s tournaments being played concurrently.

Wellington club teams are busy training ahead of this year’s American Ambassador’s Sevens one-day shootout on 11 November at Trentham Memorial Park.  It is understood that several teams are organising practice matches against each other over the next fortnight leading up to this.

Many clubs in Wellington have also commenced or are starting their pre-season campaigns ahead of the 2024 season which many can’t wait for the start of already.

The big one, the Rugby World Cup Final, kicks off on Sunday at 8.00am. No further explanation needed here in this space!


Congratulations to Taranaki for winning this year’s NPC competition.

Taranaki made 219 tackles compared with Hawke’s Bay 92 in the NPC Final. Taranaki won five matches in a row towards the end of the season, four in New Plymouth.

The last time Hawke’s Bay beat Taranaki in New Plymouth was 25-9 in 1972. In that match, Robbie Hunter (125 games for Hawke’s Bay) scored three tries. He was playing for his club Porangahau aged 60.

Lots of Taranaki jerseys out on the backs of people over the next two days, including Scott MacLean who was proudly wearing his home provincial colours at Monday’s Condor Sevens when not refereeing some games.

Wellington Lions fans could only look on from afar, and wondered how the Wellington Lions would have gone against them if they had met this year? Taranaki, Northland and Auckland were the three sides they didn’t meet in 2023. With Taranaki’s late season record, especially at home (as noted above) and the Lions having got the speed wobbles at the end, it could have come down to home advantage.


Sharp thinking by Leo the Lion:


The leading points scorer in this year’s NPC was a lock. Bay of Plenty’s Manaaki Selby-Rickit scored nine tries. He has played for BoP since 2021 and before that played for Southland between 2017-20.


As was announced last week by the Wellington Axemen:


In their last 11 Rugby World Cup games the Springboks have outscored opponents 143-24 in the last quarter. The All Blacks outscored Argentina, Namibia, Uruguay, and Italy by a combined 85-0 in the last 20 minutes of this Rugby World Cup but their bench and performance in the last quarter is less effective than the Springboks. Ethan De Groot was red-carded in the 72nd minute against Namibia and Scott Barrett was yellow-carded in the 66th minute against Argentina. The All Blacks were outscored 3-18 by France and Ireland. Does this matter? When the All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup in 2011, they didn’t concede a single point in their last four matches in the last 20 minutes. In 2015 they outscored opponents 95-10 in the last twenty minutes with 41 of those points coming in the playoffs.

There have been seven red cards at the Rugby World Cup. In 2019 there was eight.

Jeff Wilson turned 50 earlier this week. The All Blacks 20-18 Rugby World Cup semi win against the Springboks was played on this day.

The All Blacks are 16-8 with Wayne Barnes as referee.

Sam Cane has 18 wins, 7 defeats and a draw as All Blacks captain.

In total, 26 of the 43 players from the Rugby World Cup 2019 final featured in the South Africa v England semi– with Elliot Daly, Manu Tuilagi, Jonny May, Tom Curry, Courtney Lawes, Maro Itoje, Jamie George and captain Owen Farrell starting for England then and now; and Mbongeni Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Vermeulen, Damian de Allende, Cheslin Kolbe and Kolisi doing the same for the Springboks.



The Horowhenua-Kapiti Women’s club rugby final is this Saturday at the Levin Domain at 1.00pm, between Rahui and Levin College Old Boys.


A disappointing lack of leadership and game sense from the Black Ferns in their defeat against France this past weekend. Yes, the high-octane, expansive style is true to Kwis DNA, great to watch, and largely effective. However much of that approach was convinced when the Black Ferns forward pack was really poor. On Saturday in Wellington, the Black Ferns smashed France in the scrums and had the visitor’s measure. At what point does more conventional rugby become adopted? It might have helped win the game. Did the Black Ferns tactics show a lack of respect for France?  France had the least efficient scrum in the Women’s Six Nations (82.8%), despite winning the most scrum penalties (11).

The Black Ferns have played three tests in white jerseys. At the 1998 World Cup, they beat Scotland and at the 2010 World Cup, they beat France. In 2023 they were beaten at home for the first time by France 18-17 wearing white jerseys. Former Wallabies prop Ben Darwin from Gainline Analytics found in a sample of 46 Super Rugby games that teams wearing their normal jerseys average a score of 30.57 but in alternative jerseys only 22.40.

England have only lost three of their last 59 tests (W56, L3) dating back to their defeat to New Zealand in the final of Rugby World Cup 2017. Two of those defeats have come against the Black Ferns, in 2019 and 2022, and one against France (18-17 in 2018)

England topped a number of attacking stats in the 2023 TikTok Women’s Six Nations, including most metres (5,812 at an average of 1,162 per game) and most carries (786 at an average of 157 per game). England won their 100th match in the Championship and their 24th in a row when they beat France 8-33. That is the longest run of any side in the history of the Women’s Six Nations, surpassing the 19 consecutive games they won from 2005-09 and 2009-13.

Round two of this series is in Dunedin this weekend, with the Black Ferns playing Wales


A couple of familiar names in Greytown’s recent winning sevens team:


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