The 85th New Zealand Marist Spillane Cup tournament is being hosted by Hamilton Marist this weekend at Marist Park and at nearby Hamilton Boys’ High School. The tournament includes Senior, Colts and President’s sections, with leading clubs from Waikato, Auckland, North Harbour, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington, Manawatu, Wanganui, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and Canterbury taking part.
There are five trophies up for grabs, the Spillane Cup (Division 1), Ham Cumming Cup (Division 2), Brennan Cup (Division 3), Moran Cup (Colts) and the Liston Cup (President's).
First round games are being played on Saturday starting at 11.30am, 1.00pm, 1.30pm and 3.00pm, with finals day on Sunday and the feature Spillane Cup final at 12.30pm on Sunday.
Auckland Marist are the defending champions in both Senior and Colts grades, having won both at last year’s tournament in Napier. In the 2015 Spillane Cup, Auckland Marist defeated Wellington’s Hutt Old Boys Marist (HOBM) 17-11 in the final. In the Colts they defeated HOBM 67-7 in the final, after beating Hamilton Marist 46-0 in the final the year before.
HOBM had previously won their fifth consecutive title in 2014 when they had defeated Christchurch Marist Albion 30-7 in the final on their home ground in Lower Hutt.
Auckland Marist and HOBM square off in the opening Spillane Cup match on Saturday, while Wellington’s Marist St Pat’s and Napier Old Boys Marist (NOBM) meet in the other top four clash on day one.
HOBM have said they will be missing a few regular players, providing the opportunity for some young up and coming players, including some from last year’s champion Wellington Colts team, to stake their claims.
Auckland Marist are hoping to retain the title, but know they face a tough challenge first up on Saturday from HOBM, explained team spokesman and manager Mark McHattie.
McHattie said that they too have several changes from the team that won Spillane and finished mid-table in the 15-team Auckland Premier competition in 2015.
“The Auckland Marist team this year carries several changes from last year's successful team with players either having gone overseas to develop their playing careers [including 2015 Auckland Blues player William Lloyd] and others having been picked up to play Super Rugby away from Auckland [including Leon Fukofuka playing for the Crusaders].
“This year’s Auckland Marist team at the Spillane Tournament is a mixture of exciting young talent, that includes loose forward and captain David Afamasaga [who played games for Auckland at NPC as well as Colts level last year] and midfield back Enoka Muliufi [who also played games for Auckland at Colts level last year] combined with experience that includes five eighth Aaron Sommerset, loose forward Tavake Makoni, and winger Vaha Fili.”
Former MSP lock Charlie Graham is the assistant manager of the Auckland side this weekend. He would be playing but has Surf Nationals on as well. Former Petone (Wellington) first five-eighth Sam Wimsett is their head coach.
NOBM return to the Spillane Cup draw this year after winning the division 1 Ham Cumming Cup last year, beating Hastings Rugby and Sports in the final.
Three players in the Napier team are first year out of school at St Pat’s, Wellington, these being Zac Donaldson, Jack Nelson-Murray and Hannon Brighouse. All three have moved up to join the Hawke’s Bay Rugby Union.
Host club Hamilton Marist, Hastings Rugby & Sports, Christchurch Marist Albion and Palmerston North Marist will be contesting the Division 1 Ham Cumming Cup, with promotion-relegation for the 2017 tournament in place between the Spillane and Ham Cumming Cups.
The six clubs contesting the Division 2 Brennan Cup are North Harbour Marist, Tukapa (Taranaki), Greerton Marist (BoP), Rotorua Marist, Wanganui Marist and Auckland B.
Auckland Marist will again be the team to beat in the Moran Cup Colts section. They are joined by North Harbour Marist, MSP, HOBM, Hamilton Marist and Greerton Marist Colts teams.
The Hamilton Marist Ravens and HOBM Eagles President’s teams will lock talons in Saturday’s sole Liston Cup President’s match.
As well as rugby, a netball tournament is also being played. Tournament rugby and netball teams will be selected.
The Spillane Cup was donated in 1926 by the late Mr. C. I. Spillane and from 1926-1929 and was contested annually between Wanganui and Wellington. In 1930 Hamilton issued a challenge to then holders Wellington and the Spillane tournament was started - Wellington beating Hamilton 29-21. Auckland entered in 1931, Napier in 1932 and Gisborne in 1933. In 1935, eight teams entered and the following year it was split into two sections, the first section of four playing for the Spillane Cup and the second section for the Brennan Cup. The Moran and Ham Cumming Cups were subsequently instituted.
The Spillane Tournament was originally played over the long Easter Weekend. A round of matches was played on Easter Saturday followed by a formal Dinner/Dance on Saturday night. Sunday featured a Tournament Mass followed other sporting and social events in the afternoon and evening. Final matches for all divisions were held on Easter Monday.
Ham Cumming Cup
Moran Cup (Colts)
Liston Cup (President’s)
*Draws as received this week and subject to change
For more information visit the tournament’s Facebook page
1. Moli Fonua, 2. Otto Faiva, 3. Kalafi Pongi, 4 Iosefo Taliaoa, 5. Liua Kolomatangi ,6. Brooke Wecke, 7. David Afamasaga (Captain), 8. Tavake Makoni, 9. Fa’alelelei Ioane, 10. Aaron Sommerset, 11. Roberto Ipiniu, 12. Enoka Muliufu, 13. Kenton Leiataua, 14. Vaha Fili, 15. Palei Tonga, 16. Sylvester Tapau, 17. John Bosco-Tagaloa, 18. Kolo Mahe, 19. Ropati Paletasala, 20. Darius Apulu, 21. Frank Malu, 22. Bryan Mulitalo, 23. Jerry Tevaga, 24. Richie Matariki, 25. Feleti Tuipulotu, 26. Jamie Brassie
Hutt Old Boys Marist
Forwards: Bevan Wood, Simon Malaeulu, Brett Manaia, Ben Butler, Inia Wright, David Filipo, Kava Vulu, Jason Hoffman, Ben Taui, Jared Woodward, Lise Soloa (captain), Matt Sleith, Chad Briant, Jordan Gillies Backs: Blake McGregor (VC), Taylor Edwards, Brandyn Laursen, Liam Forbes, Shale Tangianau, Alexis Time, Francis Tanuvasa, Bernard Nickel, LA Moemai, Tupeni Kamakorewa, Fereti Soloa, Sala Soloa
Marist St Pat’s
Joe Walding -Karaitiana, Terongo Tiki, Vince Sakaraia, Jacob Taituave, Ivan Fepeuliai, Asa Saneviri, Nick Harrison, Gabe Papuni, Tovio Apollo, James Zino, Michael Findlay, James Feaunati, Alex Cousin, Matt Peni, Jake Goodger, Sam Fleming, Ken Kapeli, Reagan Sword, Wade Sloane, Fa'atonu Fili, Josh Foster, Tyler Tane, Mike Buckley, Filipo Alefosio, Ryan Setefano, Jayson Potroz
Napier Old Boys Marist
Forwards: Rani King, Chris Benson, Adam Slobe, Andrew Robinson, Eugene Gerard, Logan Eade, Regan Leahy, Sean Skeets, Tom Bywater, Matt Thompson, Jo Penitito, Hannon Brighouse, Chris Johnson, Jack Nelson-Murray, William Mead Backs: Zac Donaldson, Boris Bouhara, Gaet Cha, David Benson, Milo Luano, Cory Hardie, Jack Lee, Niue Vaimoli Coach: Craig Gowler Assistant Coach: Mark O’Shaughnessy Managers: Matt Wyatt, Jason McDowell
*Squad lists subject to change