Alama Ieremia has been tasked with turning around the fortunes of the problem Auckland provincial side. Ieremia's appointment as head coach for the next three seasons was announced on Monday by the Auckland Rugby Union. The 47-year-old former Hurricanes assistant and most recently in charge of the Manu Samoa setup takes over from Nick White who stepped aside at the end of a horror 2017 campaign that saw the Auks go 3-7 and narrowly avoid relegation from the Mitre 10 Cup's Premiership division. Read more here
Asafo Aumua and Ben O'Keeffe have both been nominated for awards at the 2017 National Rugby Awards. Aumua has been nominated in both the New Zealand Rugby Age Grade Player of the Year and Men's NPC Player of the Year award categories, while O'Keeffe is up for the Referee of the Year gong. Winners are announced on 14 December.
Shannon Paku has been confirmed as the Manawatū Rugby Union's new chief executive. The 37-year-old former Manawatū, Wellington, Hurricanes and Blues outside back will take over from John Knowles, who announced in August he was stepping aside from the role at the end of the year. Manawatū Rugby Union board chairman Tim Myers said Paku would start the role in March and Knowles would stay on to help bridge the gap until he starts. Myers said it was Paku's business acumen that put him on top of the pile. "He has owned his own business and has really good commercial awareness which at the end of the day tipped him over the line as opposed to the other applicants." Read more here
It would appear that New Zealand rugby player Robbie Fruean has finally lost his long-running battle with his health and been forced into a reluctant retirement. The UK's Sunday Times has reported that the 29-year-old Kiwi, currently plying his trade for Edinburgh in the Pro14 competition, looks like he has been "forced into retirement". The paper said the former Hurricanes, Crusaders and Chiefs player had suffered further complications to a delicate heart condition that had seen him undergo two open-heart surgeries and two further cardiac procedures. Former Northern United player Fruean's final act playing in Wellington was scoring four tries for Wellington B against Canterbury B on Porirua Park in 2009. Read more here
Tawa have gone big in 2018, securing an experienced international coaching team of Steve So’oialo (Rugby Development Officer), Dion Waller (Director of Rugby) and Rodney So’oialo (Technical Advisor). Adding to this powerhouse are the return of former Premier players and 2017 coaches Vice Saletele (Head Coach) and Douglas Fletcher (Forwards Coach). The services of new recruit Damian Rapira-Davies (Backs Coach) has also been secured and he will take on the role of Premier backs coach after a successful stint running the Wellington Axemen’s 7’s programme.
The Wellington Development Squad won today's sixth annual Piri Weepu 7s tournament at William Jones Park. The tournament went ahead as a seven-team event, also featuring teams representing home club Wainuiomata, Scots College, the Te Aroha Eels, Petone, Marist St Pat's and the Wellington Fijians. The Development side beat Scots College 33-5 in the final. The Development team included former St Pat's Town and Poneke fullback Sosi Tuimavave returning from Southland and from injury, while the Scots College selection included senior players Hayden Schrijvers and Sheridan Rangihuna in their ranks. Scots College head to the National Condor 7s next weekend, while the Central Region Provincial 7s is in Levin in a fortnight.
The Wainuiomata Rugby Football Club are hosting an abbreviated Piri Weepu Sevens tournament, running at William Jones Park from 9am-1pm approximately. The teams and pools are:
From 1.30 pm onwards the Wainuiomata club is hosting a family fun day. BBQ in operation all day. Drinks for sale. Clubrooms are open inside. All welcome.
The days of drawing large crowds of passionate fans to national provincial championship rugby matches seem to be over. Being able to watch a game on television in the comfort of your own home or the pub, busy lifestyles, having too many games of rugby on in a season or struggling to justify the financial costs of attending a game with the family are just some of the reasons we see so many empty seats at games. The Mitre 10 Cup [Men's NPC] is a provincial competition, featuring a large number of club rugby players at a level below professional Super Rugby and maybe it is time to instil some of the grassroots values from club rugby to appeal to the staunchly loyal rugby supporters. Read more here
Brad Shields (Petone) has announced that he will leave New Zealand Rugby at the conclusion of the Hurricanes 2018 Super Rugby campaign after signing up to play for Wasps in England. Shields has played 86 matches for the Hurricanes and 60 matches for the Wellington Lions. “It’s good to have my playing future confirmed nice and early so I can focus 100 per cent on the Hurricanes,” he said. “I’m passionate about the Hurricanes and I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure I give everything I’ve got to my final season at the club.” Shields said taking the decision to leave New Zealand Rugby was a tough one, but right one for himself and his family.
The Upper Hutt Rams went down 14-19 to home club Napier Old Boys Marist in the final of the NOBM Invitational 7s on Saturday. The Rams had beaten Northern United 36-5 in their quarter-final and defeated TBC 17-15 in a thriller. The Player of the Tournament was Jack Wright (pictured).
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|
|Marist St Pats||8||2||6||0||166||238||5||13|
|Upper Hutt Rams||10||9||1||0||514||80||10||46|
|Upper Hutt Rams||10||9||1||0||476||154||11||47|
|Marist St Pats||7||2||5||0||177||213||7||15|
|Marist St Pats||4||4||0||0||176||44||4||20|