Based at the Hutt Recreation Ground in Woburn, Hutt Old Boys Marist – often shortened to its acronym of HOBM – is one of the current powerhouses of the province. Perhaps though, no club in Wellington has as complex a history as it does, with no fewer than seven separate clubs forming it.
Rugby in the district began with the Epuni club, which after a failed merger with Petone reformed in 1892, and in 1898 were joined by the Kia Ora club. These two amalgamated in 1910 to form Hutt Football Club, but the following year a group dissatisfied with the merger established the Waiwhetu club. When Hutt failed to field a team in 1912 the Waiwhetu group won out, claiming the Hutt FC name for themselves. Playing in a variety of strips but eventually settling on red and white hoops Hutt would prove to be a force, winning the Jubilee Cup in 1931, 1934, and 1941.
Following World War II the population of the Hutt Valley expanded greatly through Government schemes and the relocation of the rail line to the Wairarapa through the centre of it; and with it a host of new rugby clubs.
One of those was the Woburn club in 1945, ostensibly as the ‘Old Boys’ club of Hutt Valley High School. Woburn wished to be known as High School Old Boys though this was initially rejected by the WRFU however repeated petitions eventually proved successful in 1953. Playing in a black strip with white trim HSOB reached Senior Second status relatively quickly but never reached Senior First; between 1959 and 1966 they played in the promotion-relegation match four times.Needing to win for promotion they twice drew these games and lost another by a solitary point.
The final of those four matches came against Hutt, who had finished bottom of Senior First in 1966. Rather than oppose each other, the two clubs merged after the following season, becoming Hutt Old Boys and adopted the green and gold colours that were then representative of the Hutt Valley. Hutt OB retained their Senior First place until 1976 when they were relegated, and spent the next decade in the second-tier. A return to the top flight wasn’t achieved until 1988 when they won the Harper Lock Shield and promotion at the expense of Wellington College Old Boys. The following year they would claim the Swindale Shield, and after a return to the red and white hoops in 1990, the Jubilee Cup in 1991.
The other half of the HOBM identity comes from another of those post-war clubs. Hutt Valley Marist was formed in 1949, and initially shared the Hutt Rec until they moved down the road to use St Bernard’s College as their base. Eventually they outgrew this relationship and moved to Fraser Park, sharing the ground with Taita with each having their own clubrooms. Playing in a green and white strip with maroon trim they would reach Senior First in 1972, ironically at Taita’s expense, and would remain there for the next 20 years.
In 1992 Hutt Old Boys and Hutt Valley Marist merged, with the new club taking the Hutt OB strip and adding green hoops and basing themselves at the Hutt Recreation Ground. They would win the Swindale Shield in 1997, but were briefly relegated in the early 2000’s. Since then they have claimed the Jubilee Cup in 2007 and 2014 (and were runners-up in 2016), the Hardham Cup in 2016, and the Swindale again in 2007 and 2012.
HOBM fields teams in every WRFU grade bar the Reserve grade, and have recently won titles at Premier Reserve and Colts level. The club has also re-established its Women’s team. It is also a regular participant in the Marist association’s Spillane Cup, and have won this a number of times in recent years.
As the two longest standing clubs in the valley, HOBM has a strong rivalry with Petone with only a few hundred metres and the Hutt River between the two. The pair contest the McBain Shield, a trophy in 1934 donated by Hec McBain in his late father Alexander’s memory – Alexander McBain was the first person made a Life Member of Hutt FC – and has been played for each year since though at times this has been a levels below the top grade. The match is usually a hard fought affair, and possession of the McBain highly sought after. Through the Marist arm they have a rivalry with Wellington’s Marist club, Marist St Pats, and since 1971 have played for the Father Cleary Cup.
HOBM has eight players in their history who made their All Black debuts while playing for the club. Hutt FC supplies four of those in Nelson Ball (1931-34), Edward Barry (1932-34), Graham Delamore (1949), and Colin Loader (1953-54), while Bernie Fraser is the sole All Black from Hutt Valley Marist playing 55 games including 23 Tests. As Hutt Old Boys Marist Piri Weepu (71 Tests) and Hosea Gear (14 Tests) were both part of the 2011 Rugby World Cup winning side, with Jeremy Thrush (12 Tests) their most recent. While Hutt Old Boys can’t make a similar claim, Steven Pokere, Hika Reid, and Mark Shaw all played for the club after the end of their All Black careers.
For more information see their website: www.hobm.co.nz?
Or on social media: https://www.facebook.com/HuttOldBoysMaristRugbyClub and https://twitter.com/HOBMEAGLES