The Wellington Maori Te Upoko O Te Ika team won the annual Central North Island Te Tini A Maui tournament in Levin, beating Whanganui Maori 31-5 in the final. On Saturday they beat Manawatu 50-0 and Hawke's Bay Maori 64-7. This was their third consecutive tournament win.
The Bulls new era under coach John Mitchell in Super Rugby is up and running after they recorded a hard-fought and vital 21-19 victory over fancied Hurricanes in Pretoria on Saturday. Though they emerged victorious their work was not without teething problems as at some stages they forgot the basics of being effective at this level to make things difficult for themselves. Bulls 21 (Johnny Kotze, Lood de Jager, Pierre Schoeman tries; Handre
World Cup-winning Wallabies coach Rod Macqueen has warned new law amendments for the breakdown could risk making rugby union resemble unlimited tackle rugby league. The new rules, already in force in the northern hemisphere, will be in evidence when New Zealand and Australia's teams begin their Super Rugby campaigns this week and will also be enforced during this year's Rugby Championship. Macqueen cited the recent Six Nations test between Ireland and Wales as an example of how the amendments could change the way the game is played by reducing the contest for possession at the breakdown. Late in the game Ireland put together a massive 41 phases of possession to get five-eighth Jonathan Sexton into a position to kick a winning penalty. Read more here
Hastings Rugby & Sports won the 35th Hawke's Bay 7s tournament, beating Havelock North 12-5 in the Men's final at Waipukurau on Saturday evening. More results and Colts and Women's champions to follow.
Petone's Brad Shield will captain the Hurricanes to start the 2018 Super Rugby season, which features nine new players. The squad for the opening fortnight is:
Forwards; Toby Smith, Chris Eves, Ben May, Fraser Armstrong, Alex Fidow, Ricky Riccitelli, James O'Rielly, Sam Lousi, Murray Douglas, Michael Fatialofa, Vaea Fifita, Brad Shields (c), Ardie Savea, Gareth Evans, Blade Thomson; Backs, TJ Perenara, Jamie Booth, Beauden Barrett, Ihaia West, Ngani Laumape, Matt Proctor, Vince Aso, Wes Goosen, Julian Savea, Ben Lam, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Jonah Lowe.
The Upper Hutt Rams’ recent strong showing at the National Club Sevens tournament ended in the wet in Auckland this weekend. In often atrocious conditions, the Rams lost two of their three games on the opening day to miss out on the top 8 Cup quarter-finals. On day two they lost to eventual Bowl winners East Coast Bays (North Harbour) and beat Greerton Marist (Bay of Plenty) to qualify for the Shield final. They met Auckland’s Pakuranga in the Shield Final, leading 7-0 at halftime and then 14-7 late in the second half following a try off a 5m scrum to Josh Brown. Pakuranga scored on fulltime but missed the conversion and the Rams won 14-12 to finish 13th of 16 teams. Jack Wright made the tournament team.
Oriental-Rongotai wing Julian Savea will captain a youthful Hurricanes in weekend's Brisbane Global Tens tournament. Former New Zealand Sevens star Ben Lam who will provide a real attacking edge to the Hurricanes out wide along with Jonah Lowe who scored a hat-trick of tries in last week's pre-season win over the Crusaders in Greymouth. First five-eighth Jackson Garden-Bachop was another player to impress in Greymouth and he should enjoy the more open space the tournament provides. Up front there should also be a fair amount of interest in how some of the young players perform, including dynamic prop Alex Fidow and former Melbourne Rebels lock Murray Douglas. The Hurricanes will meet the Crusaders and Fiji on Friday night before they round out their pool matches against the Brumbies on Saturday.
It was the first game of a long year, but the Hurricanes have taken plenty of heart from their 43-22 pre-season win over the Crusaders in Greymouth on Friday evening. The Hurricanes lived up to recent weather carnage in the area by scoring seven tries, including a first half hat-trick to starting left wing Jonah Lowe. The Hurricanes led 24-5 at halftime and pulled further ahead to lead 36-5 before the defending champions came back. A crowd of 4,000 was on hand to watch the game. Both sides blooded plenty of new players and the two squads’next assignment is the Brisbane 10s next weekend. Elsewhere, the Blues overcame the Chiefs 45-19 in Te Kuiti and the Highlanders accounted for the Waratahs 55-29 in Queenstown on Friday. Hurricanes 43 (Jonah Lowe 3, Ben Lam, Julian Savea, Finlay Christie, Vince Aso tries; Jackson Garden-Bachop 2 con, Ihaia West 2 con) beat Crusaders 22 (Billy Harmon, Jack Stratham, Tima Faingaanuku, Manasa Mataele tries; Brett Cameron con). HT: 24-5.
Former All Blacks and Marist St Pat's loose forward Victor Vito is among the shortlist of 15 for European rugby's top gong after his performances for La Rochelle. Vito, who was named last season's Top 14 player of the year in France, joined La Rochelle after winning a maiden Super Rugby title in his last match with the Hurricanes in 2016. The 30-year-old has been nominated for the European player of the year award (The Anthony Foley Memorial Trophy) for 2018 in a list dominated by players from French and Irish clubs. Read more here
Visit Draws & Results across the top of this page to peruse the first round 2018 Premier Swindale Shield (default draw on page) and first round 2018 Premier Reserve Harper Lock Shield draw (use Change Competition menu). Both competitions kick off on Saturday 17 March.
Ben O’Keeffe and Mike Fraser are the two Wellington's referees in the seven-strong national professional squad for the upcoming year, while Nick Hogan returns to the National Squad for the year ahead, in the list that has been released this week.
The Billy Wallace Trophy Best & Fairest competition is awarded on a 3,2 and 1 basis by Dominion Post reporters after each game.
Best & Fairest frontrunners after the Jubilee Cup final on 5 August (note that, along with First XV rugby, the Dominion Post doesn’t cover the Hardham Cup anymore, so just top 8 teams are awarded points in the championship rounds):
23 points: Hemi Fermanis (Tawa), Ben Tupuola (Wainuiomata)
18 points: Lester Maulolo (Petone)
15 points: Parekura Lalaga (Northern United)
14 points: Cole Stewart (Poneke)
12 points: Sheridan Rangihuna (Hutt Old Boys Marist), Andrew Wells (Marist St Pat's), Peniasi Tokakece (Tawa), Brandyn Laursen (Hutt Old Boys Marist), Joe ‘Apikotoa (Hutt Old Boys Marist)
11 points: Antony Fox (Northern United), Daven Candy (Old Boys University)
10 points: Mike Buckley (MSP), Sam Gard’ner (Wellington), Johnathan Fuiaomaono (Old Boys University)
9 points: Aukuso Tuitama (Ories), Isaac O’Connor (Marist St Pat’s), Teariki Ben Nicholas (Old Boys University), Chris Middleton (Northern United), Jono Ihaka (Old Boys University)
8 points: Ben Peni (Avalon), Mateaki Kafatolu (Petone), Dale Sabbagh (Old Boys University)
7 points: Joyner Key (Upper Hutt Rams), Mitchell Markov (Upper Hutt Rams), Mike Ioapo (Northern United), Blake Neve (Paremata-Plimmerton), Cameron Ross (Wainuiomata), Teegan Minkley (Old Boys University), James So’oialo (Tawa), Valentine Meachen (Marist St Pat’s), Will Mangos (Old Boys University)
6 points: Adam Deck (Oriental-Rongotai), Pepesana Patafilo (Tawa), Nick Robertson (Poneke), James O’Reilly (Hutt Old Boys Marist), Hayden Whelan (Oriental-Rongotai), Paulo Aukuso (Oriental-Rongotai), Nick Harrison (Marist St Pat’s)
5 points: 13 players on 5 points
|Marist St Pats||7||5||1||1||203||183||3||25|
|Upper Hutt Rams||10||9||1||0||476||154||11||47|
|Upper Hutt Rams||10||9||1||0||514||80||10||46|
|Marist St Pats||7||2||5||0||177||213||7||15|
|Marist St Pats||4||4||0||0||176||44||4||20|