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Sideline Conversions 29 January (some rugby news and information to start the week)

When the Hurricanes played the Blues in Masterton in February 2014.

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Still January, so not a lot going on in the world of community rugby to report…but some content below to keep things interesting!

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Ireland upset Australia 19-14 in the women’s Perth Sevens final. It was Ireland’s first victory in 29 matches against Australia. Eve Higgins scored the winning try with a minute to spare. The Black Ferns Sevens were fifth.

The All Blacks Sevens were ninth in the men’s tournament that saw Argentina take the spoils. It’s a roster that lacks pace and is aging, not a good sign for the Olympics. Though credit to Tim Mikkelson for his match-winning try in the playoff against Samoa.

What marketing genius came up SVNS as a name for the World Sevens Series? It sounds like an STD! Disappointing to see the ‘dumbing down’ of social media content and commentary. Gone are the days of Keith Quinn and Nigel Starmer-Smith. Budgie Smuggler Instagram posts hint Only Fans might be a future avenue of promotion.

Disappointing to see the punitive approach around accidental high tackles and cards applied at the Perth Sevens. For the first time, Western Australia hosted a World Series event and in the marque match-up between Australia and New Zealand, two leading youngsters Jorja Miller (New Zealand) and Maddison Levi (Australia) were sent off.

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The Waikato Fijian 7s tournament is this coming weekend – a bit far for us to go to get there, but will be following the tournament. Teams and pools in the post below:

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“Learnings,” “connected,” “skill sets,” ‘D,” “good human.” What will be the new rugby buzzwords in 2024?

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The Hurricanes sent out a media release yesterday promoting their pre-season match on Friday 16 February. The game against Moana Pasifika is being played at the NZCIS Facility at Upper Hutt at 2.30pm that afternoon.

It confirms that they are putting temporary stands around the ground, but to us something is still a bit off staging this one and only home pre-season match and annual chance to create a community atmosphere amongst fans there when Porirua Park is a ready-made venue with a 2,000 seat stand and in the heart of the Pasifika community (and free that weekend). Plus, Levin was packed to the gunnels last year.

Of course, these pre-season matches are often a carnival atmosphere for the spectators (remember those ones at the Tui Brewery) but dead serious for the players as the term ‘trial game’ doesn’t have the same ring to it. While the aforementioned Levin was going gangbusters on a Friday evening last February players such as Cam Roigard and Brayden Iose were staking their claims for regular season starting spots.

Per Sunday’s media release:

Hurricanes CEO Avan Lee said: “We’re really looking forward to this day. Bringing the match to NZCIS is great for the community to see this amazing facility and where we do our hard mahi. The team will be fresh from their earlier pre-season fixture against the Highlanders in Dunedin, and no doubt ready to showcase what we’ve got in front of our fans.

“We’re encouraging people to join us on the day, watch some amazing rugby, meet the players, and enjoy the Hurricanes environment.”

NZCIS Co-Owner and Co-Founder Malcolm Gillies said he was excited to bring a Super Rugby Pacific level game to the world-class sporting facility.

“On behalf of my partner Kevin Melville and myself, NZCIS are super excited to be hosting the first ever Super Rugby Pacific pre-season game here at the home of the Hurricanes. It is something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time now and it is amazing that we can bring this game to Upper Hutt.”

Gillies confirmed that stands will be assembled for the match to make the day even more spectacular for fans.

“We’re expecting the public to come out so we’ll be taking the opportunity to put some stands up so the fans can be comfortable. It’s a world-class field surrounded by all the performance technology we’ve brought into the facility, so it will be great for the public to see what goes into the Hurricanes preparation. The day is going to be amazing and want the public to jump on the waka the Hurricanes and Wellington Phoenix are on here and become part of the NZCIS whānau.”

This game follows their first pre-season fixture in Dunedin against the Highlanders on Saturday 10 February.

The Hurricanes’ opening match of the competition is against the Force in Perth the following Friday. This is followed by their second game against the Reds in Melbourne on 3 March, with all rounds in Melbourne tat weekend, which means it is 100 percent about money and nothing to do with the fans.

Remember, First XV and club rugby is always free, and the rugby we all love!

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Meanwhile, the Crusaders departed for their ‘Northern Tour’ the other day. Forget playing any games this year in Nelson or Blenheim, the big smoke beckons.

Josh Southall was on holiday in Fiji last week. This week he’s bound for the UK with the Crusaders. Josh has had terrible luck with injury. Is this opening to kick-start a career that was so promising he made the NZ Schools twice? Jack Gray formerly of Hutt Valley High School and Scots College is also in the Crusaders touring party.

The Blues are popping up to Japan – playing the Tokyo Suntory team this Saturday and Yokohama Canon Eagles next Saturday.

Naitoa Ah Kuoi and the Chiefs are travelling to Japan this week for their first game against the Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights.

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Sideline Conversions also missed the news that Hugo Plummer has joined the Highlanders, called in to their squad as locking injury cover. So a potential debut for the Tawa and Lions lock, and he could well be playing against the Hurricanes next week.

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Shamar Joseph took 7-68 to help the West Indies stun Australia in a cricket test in Brisbane. He did it with a broken toe. Achieving a great triumph on one foot. Sounds like Richie McCaw. Seven has a nice synergy too.

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Have people started watching the new Netflix series about the Six Nations? If so, is it good?

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The Johnsonville Hawks are training hard already – the Helston Park bank is looking a bit arid this time of year too!

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