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Sideline Conversions 4 March (some news and information to start the week)

Above: In the absence of any rugby photos from this past weekend, we’ve gone back to the summer of 2007 for the headline shot! Who can remember beach rugby at Oriental Bay, won by the beach’s namesake Oriental-Rongotai, who beat Hutt Old Boys Marist in the final.

Monday AFTERNOON edition: The second weekend of pre-season matches is this coming Saturday. At least eight Wellington clubs are involved in matches against each other, while the two Marist clubs, Marist St Pat’s and Hutt Old Boys Marist, are heading to Taupo for the Spillane tournament.

The Upper Hutt Rams are playing Johnsonville on opening day of the Maidstone Community Sports Hub.

In high performance rugby, the Hurricanes return home to host the Blues on Saturday night in Wellington. The Hurricanes Poua host the Matatu side in the first game as part of a double header.

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Johnsonville played the Feilding Yellows and Napier Old Boys Marist in a game of three halves on Saturday, to help celebrate the Feilding club’s 150th anniversary weekend. Feilding hosts reinstated Feilding Old Boys Oroua in the opening round of the Manawatu club competition on Good Friday, 29 March.

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Two Hurricanes U20s sides were in action on Saturday. The ‘A’ team met the Crusaders U20s in Blenheim and the Development team played the Chiefs U20s in Taupo in a Scenarios encounter.

Public information from these games is non-existent, but we understand the Crusaders U20s beat the Hurricanes U20s 22-15 in their game.

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The annual McEvedy Shield athletics meet is tomorrow at Newtown Park. The meet has lost some of its lustre in recent years, with Wellington College’s current dominance (it wasn’t always the case) and the stifling of support and emotions being two reasons for this. Nevertheless, an entertaining day out for old boys of Wellington College, Rongotai College, St Pat’s Silverstream and St Pat’s Town.

Lots of rugby players have also starred in the McEevdy – who would be some of the athletes from the four schools to have gone on and excelled in rugby?

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Last week the WRFU released the Women’s and Colts draws. The good news is that both are set down to start on the same day of the Premier competition – all kicking off together on Saturday 6 April.

Eight women’s teams will line-up for the start of the Women’s first round Rebecca Liua’ana Trophy, the only tweak from last season being the Wainuiomata’/HOBM combined team is now just Wainuiomata.

All 14 clubs have entered Colts teams, so they will play a 13-week round-robin for the Paris Memorial Trophy. The big change in Colts is that their games will now be given priority as 1.00pm curtain-raisers on No. 1 grounds for Premier matches. Just one unintended consequence of this though could be that Premier coaches could plunder their Colts teams for extra players to fill their benches when they are short and when injuries hit clubs (as they will). So some leading Colts players could only play half games or 60 minutes as their services are required to bench for their Prems. On grounds with multiple fields, this shouldn’t be a problem as the Premier 2 side will be playing over on the far field and they can provide these players as is usually the case, but on one-field grounds such as Helston, Lyndhurst, William Jones, this could happen. A solution could be to bring forward all Premier 2 kick-offs to 12.30pm.

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Sideline Conversions understands the Premier 2 grade is being tweaked again, and is being split into two grades from the start of the season.

The top 8 ranked sides from last year will play in a seven-week round-robin for the Premier 2 first round Harper Lock Shield and the bottom six from 2023 will contest the National Mutual Cup.

After seven rounds, the top two from the National Mutual Cup will join the leading six teams in the Championship Ed Chaney Cup and the bottom two of the Harper Lock Shield will drop down to compete with the remaining teams for the HD Morgan Memorial Cup

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It hasn’t been confirmed yet, but it appears that Old Boys University could be splitting its home games between Rugby League Park and Nairnville Park.

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Monica Tagoai was on fire for the Hurricanes Poua against the Chiefs, yet she was subbed with 30 minutes left. Why?

The Poua lost to the Chiefs 24-46, but gave a good account of themselves. The Poua were fielding 10 debutants and the Chiefs had 14 Black Ferns.

Just three Wellington Pride players in the match-day 23 though. We know Ayesha Leti-L’iga is rehabbing a long-term injury, but where was Jonah Ngan-Woo?

The Blues beat defending champion Matatū 24-17 in the other opening round of Super Rugby Aupiki. Could the Blues go from last to first in 2024 like Matatū did in 2023?

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A classically chaotic Hurricanes win over the Reds in Melbourne. TAB odds on Paremata-Plimmerton’s reserve prop Pasilio Tosi scoring the winning try off the bench in extra time were so long they don’t exist. Wainuiomata’s Ruben Love was all class with two tries. If he stays injury-free, he will give the All Blacks selectors a serious nudge. The Hurricanes coaches played reserve roulette. All Blacks halfback Cam Roigard was subbed shortly after scoring his second try to tie the game by second-game rookie Jordi Viljoen whose first act was a box kick so shallow it caught two unsuspecting Hurricanes offside. They were penalised and from the ensuing attack, the Reds fumbled the ball over the try line. Hooker and co-captain Asafo Aumua was also dragged with his colleague Jordie Barrett already off the field red-carded.

A couple of extra questions from this game. Can they bring in more ‘neutral’ referees to these types of games? Why is there extra time for in these round-robin games? A draw is a draw if that is what the result is at the end of 80 minutes (playoff games notwithstanding).

Most chaotic Hurricanes Wins?  The Hurricanes beat the Waratahs 27-20 in Sydney in 2000 with 13 players for much of the contest. Jonah Lomu was red-carded for a spear tackle on Wallabies second five Nathan Grey. What about the 50-47 win over the lowly Cheetahs in 2011? Remember this match-winning try scored by Jeremy Thrush?

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The Chiefs 46-12 win against the Brumbies was their largest against the Canberra-based franchise, eclipsing the 48-23 victory in 2016 where Irish winger James Lowe scored two tries and Damian McKenzie scored 23 points. The Brumbies biggest Super Rugby defeat was on Anzac Day 2009 when they were thrashed 56-7 by the Brumbies. Specialist wingers scored four of the seven Hurricanes tries with Zac Guildford crossing twice and Cory Jane and David Smith also scoring. Smith was an All Blacks Sevens rep out of Mount Albert Grammar School. He played 36 games for the Hurricanes and scored 12 tries. He also played for the Blues and the Western Force before a long and fruitful career in France when he won a Top 14 title with Castres (106 games, 33 tries) winning a Top 14 title in 2017-18.

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Pesky openside Charlie Gamble and ginger first five Tane Edmed were key figures in the Waratahs’ 37-24 upset of the Crusaders. Are they really Australians or Hutt Old Boys Marist Eagles Jordan Gillies (openside) and Harrison Boyle (First five) on steroids?

The Crusaders have lost the opening two games of a Super Rugby season for the first time since 2014. That year they opened with defeats to the Chiefs 18-10 and the Blues 35-24. They did recover to make the final which they lost 33-32 to the Waratahs. Watch the highlights of the 35-24 loss to the Blues. Have you ever seen Riche McCaw miss two tackles that led to two tries?

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Brumbies winger Corey Toole looks like a very useful prospect. He’s scored doubles in both Brumbies matches this season and bagged nine tries in 2023. He played for Australia A last year via the Aussie Sevens where he might have the record for the longest try scored in rugby history at Twickenham.

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Our friends at Magpies Unofficial raised a pertinent point last week.

This tournament (see X post below) is being played over five weekends in August and September – carving into the NPC competition.

We agree, it’s great for the players involved, but how many will be taken out of the ranks of NZ based players during this time? Even a dozen or 15 players is a starting team of players. Remember it also has the trickle down affect, so not just the top NPC squads but all the development and other represeantive squads below them.

Read about the tournament on the World Rugby website at https://www.world.rugby/news/910449/pacific-nations-cup-2024-set-to-level-up-global-competitiveness-as-new-brand-format-and-fixtures-are-announced 

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Super Rugby Extra Time Games

April 10, 2021: Chiefs 26 v Highlanders 23

Venue: Dunedin

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe

Winning Score: Damian McKenzie penalty goal

 

April 11, 2022: Crusaders: 30 v Hurricanes 27

Venue: Wellington

Referee: Paul Williams

Winning Score: David Havili drop goal.

 

March 25, 2022, Moana Pasifika 24 v Hurricanes 19

Venue: Auckland

Referee: Brendon Pickerill

Winning Score: Danny Toala try (Ironically Toala was cut from the Hurricanes the previous season)

 

March 11, 2023, Force 21 v Moana Pasifika 18

Venue: Perth

Winning Score: Bryce Hegarty penalty goal. The Force had 13 players.

Referee: Jordan Way

 

March 3, 2023, Hurricanes 38 v Reds 33

Venue: Perth

Winning Score: Pasilio Tosi try.

Referee: Jordan Way

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One of our bugbears of Porirua Park has always been that the benches in the media room haven’t been fit for purpose, in both height of the benches/windows and the gently sloping tables that cameras and laptops can go for slides off. Of course, there is now scaffolding in front of it for all televised games, so its redundant. But what about this one below:

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To see what’s coming up over the next few weeks visit our article linked below.

Club Rugby pre-season – what’s coming up in March

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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