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Sideline Conversions 22 January (some rugby news and information to start the new week)

This column is a collaborative effort, so if you want to contribute (please do) or have news or information to promote please email editor@clubrugby.co.nz

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A highly entertaining and well run third annual Bula Fiji 7s tournament at Porirua Park on Saturday.

Unlike Sunday when it was blazing hot, conditions were perfect for sevens rugby, with cloud cover and a moderate breeze at best.

It was also very competitive; out of the dozen or so games from the Cup quarter-finals on, when we picked up the action, there was just a solitary one that could be one-sided.

Several games went down to the wire or were only decided with a couple of minutes to play (which is a long time in sevens).

A new champion was found for the third consecutive year of this tournament’s existence. This was Hawke’s Bay team Duavata. They won through excellent defence. They were quick to shut down space and won several key turnovers and penalties and definitely knew how to capitalise!

In the fourth of the Cup quarter-finals, Duavata  were trailing the local team and defending champions the Wellington Fijian Flyers, but upped their attack in the second half and pulled away to win.

Duavata then beat Waikato 24-12 in their Cup semi-final, after racing to a 19-0 lead and an aforementioned one-sided win was on the cards until Waikato rallied and came back. Next up in the Cup final was the Whanganui Fijians, who had convincingly won December’s tournament at Bill Bown Park. Whanganui struck first to lead 5-0, before Duavata replied to lead 7-5 at halftime. The second half remained tight but Duavata scored twice more to win 19-5.

Duavata also host their own tournament in November. With the Fijian community clearly driving the sevens game now, perhaps that, the new Manawatu 7s tournament in December and this one could form the basis of a series.

There were two Wellington teams at the tournament, the Flyers Black side losing to Duavata in their Cup quarter-final – after losing one of their morning matches – and then going down to the Mid Canterbury Fijians 19-12 in their Plate semi-final. The second team lost their Bowl semi-final.

As for Porirua Park, that has one of its busiest years yet, but the ground staff are on to it and looking forward to the challenge of multiple rugby and football matches coming up on the hallowed turf of Jerry Collins Stadium.

Sideline Conversions is trying to ascertain what else might be coming up in sevens rugby in the lower North Island – please let us know.

On the last Saturday of January last year there was the Settlers Honey tournament in Marton, but unsure if this is on again this year. There used to be the Shannon Sevens, as well as the Kimbolton Sevens, but these tournaments have been in abeyance in recent years as the sport of rugby has contracted.

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Weather extremes currently around the world. While its hot here its been freezing in the US. Some call it climate change, we call it summer and winter. What rugby games have been played in snow? What are the worst conditions for rugby on record?

There was a famous Ranfurly Shield game (perhaps more than one) down in Invercargill in 1939 between Southland and Manawatu.

Plenty of others have been played in torrential rain (All Blacks v Springboks at Wellington in 1921, All Blacks v Scotland at Auckland 1975, Ories v Tawa at Miramar 2021), others in wind (All Blacks v France at Wellington in 1961) and others shrouded in mist (Crusaders v Hurricanes 2006).

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Last week it was confirmed that the inaugural British and Irish Lions women’s team will tour New Zealand in 2027.

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The Hornby Rugby Football Club’s premier men’s team might have only won twice since 2019, but for one cunning burglar they are still hot property.

Club apparel was stolen during a well-planned, though ultimately unsuccessful, raid on the Denton Park-based club, with HRFC chairperson Steve Deans sure the intruder had club connections or had staked out the Chalmers St premises.

“The way he broke in, he’s clearly been in our clubrooms before. He’s jumped a fence at an area undetected by security cameras and once inside he knew exactly where he was going,” Deans said.

Read more here: https://www.odt.co.nz/news/national/burglar-who-targeted-rugby-club-looking-safe

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Christian Wade has warned Louis Rees-Zammit to expect some “lonely” times as he bids to crack the NFL.

Rees-Zammit, 22, shocked the rugby union world by quitting a sport which brought him 32 Wales caps and a place on the British and Irish Lions’ 2021 tour of South Africa.

Former England wing Wade tried to make the same switch to American football before returning to rugby.

“It is going to get real, real fast,” Wade told S4C.

“I know how lonely it is going to get so I wish him the best of luck.

Read more here: https://www.bbc.com/sport/rugby-union/68045142

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All Blacks centre Quinn Tupaea is set to make his long-awaited Super Rugby return with the Chiefs and believes his lengthy stint on the sidelines can give him a different perspective on the game.

The 24-year-old was sidelined for the entire 2023 season due to a serious anterior cruciate ligament sustained after an illegal clearout from Wallabies lock Darcy Swain in a Bledisloe Cup Test in Melbourne in 2022.

Read more here: https://www.planetrugby.com/news/all-black-set-for-super-rugby-pacific-return-after-cheap-shot-resulted-in-horrific-injury

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On the subject of former Hamilton Boys’ High School players, the Crusaders will be welcoming back Sevu Reece, who sustained a serious knee injury early last season and missed the rest of the year.

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Several new players from around the world at MSP and in Wellington club rugby this year.

Great location at the Bond Bar for their get together too.

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Excitement for the Hurricanes season is mounting, but not on X (formerly Twitter). They haven’t sent out an X since last August.

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Former Palmerston North Boys’ High School wicket-keeper Ruben Love with the catch. Great photo too.

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The 2024 Swindale Shield kicks off soon – view the draw here: http://www.clubrugby.co.nz/wellington/games-results.php?competition=1&season=21&round=1

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