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Great days in club rugby 004: Brothers in Arms

A family affair. Several sets of brothers in the the Tawa club that won both the Premier Jubilee Cup (pictured here) and the Premier 2 Ed Chaney Cup in 2013.

Since the first season that the Jubilee Cup was contested in 1929 there have been approximately 8,000 Senior A/Premier club rugby matches contested in Wellington.

In this new series for 2024 as part of our ongoing celebration of community rugby in Wellington, we have broken into the ‘Today in Club Rugby History’ files, selected a small sample of these matches and divided them up into similar categories of occurrences.

The history of the competition is filled with stories of brothers playing together (and sometimes against each other). Below is a small sample size of such instances and matches where brothers have played stirring or pivitol roles for their teams in Wellington club rugby.

Brothers combining to win matches

18 June 1994: Brothers Mike and Tana Umaga combine in a hot run of form in unbeaten Petone’s 49-10 win over Johnsonville. The pair bamboozle battlers Johnsonville, together launching several sweeping movements and setting up two tries to second five-eighth Jason O’Halloran. 21-year-old Tana will go and play 329 first-class matches and captain the All Blacks as part of his 74-test career, before moving into prominent coaching roles. Older brother Mike, 28, will make his Samoa test debut this year and play 13 tests between 1994-99, and also play rugby league in England.


10 April 1999: The Burt brothers, Josh and Corey, help spark Johnsonville to a 22-17 win over Petone in this early season clash. Trailing 7-10 at halftime, second five-eighth Josh slipped through to score and first five-eighth Corey converted to put Johnsonville ahead. Then, in the 72nd minute with Petone ahead 17-14, Corey made a clean break to set up the match winning try.


 3 June 1978: Allan Hewson scores four tries and Kevin Hewson two in Petone’s eight-try 46-0 win over Naenae Old Boys. The Hewson brothers are in good form all year for Petone in 1978, the year of ‘three winners’ – Athletic winning the Swindale Shield and MSP and Wellington sharing the Jubilee Cup. Both brothers are Wellington A representatives in the team’s maiden NPC winning season. Fullback Allan makes 11 appearances in his second season for Wellington and will go on and play 108 times for the provinces and in 19 tests for the All Blacks.


2 April 2004: The Waldrom brothers steal the show in the opening round of the 2004 season for Avalon at home at Fraser Park. The brothers are in top form against Johnsonville in Avalon’s 43-16 win, No. 8 Thomas scoring one try and openside flanker Scott scoring four. When available, the brothers continue to be influential for the Wolves and singularly and together win several more matches together. They progress all the way to hosting a home Jubilee Cup semi-final which they lose to Poneke.


15 August 2004: The Ellison brothers, Tamati and Jacob, make history by being part of the first Northern United team win the Jubilee Cup. Norths beat Poneke 20-18 to win their maiden title. The previous week, Jacob starts at blindside flanker and regular midfielder Tamati shifts into first five during the 15-8 semi-final win over Petone. Tamati is at first five in the final and wins the MVP and inaugural Jim Brown Medal. Fast-forward two years and Jacob will be a try-scorer at lock in Norths’ second final win, again over Poneke. Neither brother will play in the 2008 final joint win with MSP, but a third brother, Leon enters the fray. Leon will play much of 2008 but miss the end of the campaign, be second five in Norths’ 16-21 final loss to MSP in 2009 but be starting five-five when they next win it in 2010 with a 24-5 win over Poneke. So all three brothers were involved in each of the 2004, 06, 08 and 10 campaigns for Norths. The stars won’t align though for all three to play together in a final winning side.


 12 August 2007: Hutt Old Boys Marist are victorious in the 2007 Jubilee Cup, taking down Marist St Pat’s 18-10. The win is a battle of attrition, with HOBM holding just a 6-3 lead after 50 minutes, before two tries seal the deal. This was after they have beaten Norths 15-5 at Porirua Park in the previous week’s semi-final. The Risdon brothers, captain and halfback Nick, and openside flanker Jason, are key players in these victories. Nick is the Player of the Final and fourth Jim Brown Medal winner. Nick is the starting halfback in 18 of 20 matches in 2007, while Jason plays every game at openside flanker in the Jubilee Cup run and in 19 of 20 matches. Jason will go and captain the Eagles to win their next Jubilee Cup in 2014, with Nick one of two halfbacks, along with Sheridan Ranguhuna, in that squad seven years later.


 26 June 2010: Just in Time! Hutt Old Boys Marist brothers Matt and Alexis Time each score decisive second half tries as part of the club’s centenary weekend 22-15 victory over 100-year old rivals Petone. The Time brothers’ tries make the difference as the home side fight back from a 10-15 deficit early in the second half to draw level and then score the winning try several minutes from fulltime. The Eagles then defend their line magnificently, with second five-eighth Alexis Time also saving a near-certain try with a goal line tackle after numerous phases of pick and driving play by the Petone pack had threatened to spoil their celebrations.


28 July 2012: Wainuiomata beat Northern United 25-19 in the seventh and final round of the 2012 round-robin to qualify for the club’s first Jubilee Cup semi-finals series. The fourth place finish sees them book their place in the top four, squeezing out first round champions HOBM, where they go on to play defending champions Ories (losing that next match). Wainuiomata have three sets of brothers in their starting XV in this match. David and Justin Va’a are the props, Dion Lealofi is at hooker and Greg Leolofi is at openside flanker, Genesis Mamea is No. 8 and brother Isaiah and Tau are at centre and fullback.

Wellington Club Rugby Event Photo Norths v Wainuiomata


4 August 2013: Last year they were Hardham Cup champions and this year Tawa have completed a remarkable maiden Swindale Shield – Jubilee Cup double. Like all suburban clubs, Tawa is built on a close-knit community and lots of family support on and off the field. Tawa has fielded four sets of brothers consistently throughout the season: Steven and James So’oialo, TJ and Ezra Fermanis (with a third, Hemi, to come in 2016), Taniela (captain) and Joketani Koroi, and Matt and Shaun Treeby. More sets of brothers are in their Senior 1 team and wider squad, such as the Nukus, Georges, Madars, Makapelus and Boyds (with father/uncle Matt and Chris part of the Premier coaching group).


22 July 2023: Last year’s Hardham Cup winners are this year’s Jubilee Cup champions. Oriental-Rongotai win their second Wellington club rugby championship title of the modern era with a 34-21 win over first round winners and top qualifiers Paremata-Plimmerton. Ories light up a dull afternoon at the Hutt Rec and approximate 3,000 strong crowd with a powerful and clinical forwards effort. Blindside flanker Dominic Ropeti leads a dominant Ories display with a storming game in the loose and at the front of a lineout that systematically dismantles their opposites. Ropeti wins the Jim Brown Memorial Medal as the Player of the Final. His brother Alex is at centre and also plays no small part in the win, both on attack and in defence in helping to contain Paremata-Plimmerton’s dangerous backs Ories lead 27-14 at halftime playing with a strong southerly wind in their favour and then knuckle down in the second to shut the Hammerheads out of the game.

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