Above: Perry Hayman scores in the corner for Norths against Poneke early last season, one of 691 tries in the 2017 Swindale Shield.
The 2018 rugby season kicks of this coming weekend, with the first of the Super Rugby pre-season fixtures. The Hurricanes meet the Crusaders in Greymouth on Friday. There’s a steady diet of sevens and pre-season 15s rugby over the following several weeks leading to the start of the club season. Here are some numbers and statistics we have put together ahead of the new season.
17 – March, or St Patrick’s Day, the date of the first round of the Premier and Premier Reserve club rugby season that is being played at Awakairangi (six games) and Maoribank (one game) Parks in Upper Hutt.
7 –The number of teams that can will qualify for this year’s second round Jubilee Cup from the first round 14-team Swindale Shield competition, down from the eight sides for the past couple of decades.
10 – As in Brisbane 10s, the first official competition outing of the year for Super Rugby squads. On 9 and 10 February. Also the first date of Hurricanes first home match – against the Crusaders in Wellington – 10 March.
11 - Eleven new faces including three Super Rugby rookies and a Wallaby test prop (Toby Smith) are a feature of the 2018 Hurricanes squad.
2 – Who will finish the season wearing this number on their back for the Hurricanes this year? It is hoped that Dane Coles will be back mid-year, while both Asafo Aumua and Ricky Riccitelli are more than handy replacements!
96 –Number of Super Rugby games TJ Perenara is sitting on; the Northern United player is set to become the first halfback to reach a century of appearances for the Hurricanes. He has also scored 44 tries.
16 – Sixteen tries scored by Ardie Savea in 65 Super Rugby games. Look for a big season from both Ardie and Julian Savea in 2018, both motivated to put their names in lights in front of the All Blacks selectors.
89 – The number of Jubilee Cups contested. First won in 1929 by University, it’s currently held by the students' successor club; Old Boys-University.
50 - It’s the 50th year that the Swindale Shield has been played for as the first-round trophy since its resurrection from an Athletic Park broom cupboard. Petone were this first winners of it in this sense in 1969, but it had previously been won as the Senior Championship trophy by Oriental in 1910 and then by Athletic the three years after.
13 - Different clubs to have won the first round Swindale Shield since 1969. Of the current Premier clubs only Oriental-Rongotai, Wainuiomata, and Paremata-Plimmerton don’t have their names on it.
174 – The record number of games that Graham Williams played for the Wellington representative side from, 1964 – 1976 The Wellington Axemen legend retired at the end of the 1978 season, and passed away in January 2018.
35 – The amount of interclub trophies contested in Premier rugby in matches in the first round.
83 – Years that the famous McBain Shield between Petone and (now) Hutt Old Boys Marist has been contested. The first one played for in 1935. The two sides meet this year in Round 5 at Petone.
26 – Oriental-Rongotai wing Ayesha Leti-l’iga scored 26 tries for her side in 2017, a single season club record and equalling the [known] men’s Premier record for most tries in a season set by Michael Knight of the Wellington Axemen in 1969. Will this be broken this year?
12 – Tries scored by Poneke’s Michael Sage in last year’s first round Swindale Shield competition.
18 – The number of tries scored by Norths’ Buxton Popoalii in 11 matches in the 2010 Swindale Shield., the first round individual record. His His teammate James So’oialo (now with Tawa) also scored 206 points for the side; both are the first round points scoring records.
6 – The last time that Marist St Pat’s won a Premier rugby title – the 2012 Jubilee Cup. A long time between drinks for the most successful club of the modern era. They have won 14 Jubilee Cups since their first in 1978.
12 – Likewise the number of years since Petone last won the Jubilee Cup. It’s now the longest Championship drought in the clubs history, which stretches back to 1885.
25 – MSP’s current winning streak in Premier rugby over Upper Hutt and Upper Hutt Rams sides, stretching back to 2002. The two clubs meet this year in round 9 on 5 May at Maidstone Park.
286 - The most points in a single season of Wellington Premier club rugby by an individual, by Hutt Old Boys Marist’s Brandyn Laursen in 2013. Laursen also scored 52 points for HOBM in their 128-0 romp against Rimutaka that season, the most points in a Premier match by an individual.
145 – The most combined points scored by both sides in a Wellington Premier club rugby match, when Northern United beat the Wests Roosters 97-48 in 2013.
496 – Points scored by first round winners Old Boys University in last year’s Swindale Shield round-robin series, 50 short of the record for most points in a team scored in one Swindale Shield campaign by Northern United in 2010 (two fewer games played too).
23 – The number of points accumulated by Billy Wallace Best & Fairest joint-winners Ben Tupuola (Wainuiomata) and Hemi Fermanis (Tawa) last season, five ahead of Petone’s Lester Maulolo.
52 - The number of continuous years the Billy Wallace competition has been running, 1969-2017.
1 – With the emphasis on attacking play and scoring tries, there was just one dropped goal kicked in 91 first round Premier matches last year – in the very last week by the Upper Hutt Rams’ Tyler Tane against Petone. Two dropped goals were kicked in the Jubilee Cup round (Tawa’s James So’oialo against OBU in round 4 and OBU’s Dale Sabbagh against Ories the following week), so just three for the season.
691 – The total number of tries scored in the 2017 Swindale Shield competition, at an average of 7.5 per match, up from 656 scored in 2016.
148 - Continuous years the Wellington Football Club has been in existence. Founded in 1870, it is the oldest playing through club in New Zealand.
50 – Years since the current Oriental-Rongotai club was formed. In 1968 Oriental and Rongotai College Old Boys joined forces on the playing field for the first time.
5 – The clubs that have yet to win their maiden Jubilee Cup title - Johnsonville, Avalon, Paremata-Plimmerton, Wainuiomata and the Upper Hutt Rams.
139 - There are this many Premier matches coming up over the next five months of the Wellington club rugby season; 91 Swindale Shield contests and 24 in each of the Jubilee and Hardham Cups, culminating in the finals in early August.
16 - 16 June is the date of the first of two All Blacks Tests in Wellington this year. They play France on this night, followed by South Africa back at Westpac Stadium on 15 September.
4 – The number of clubs to have won the first round Swindale Shield in the past five seasons; Tawa in 2013, MSP in 2014, HOBM in 2015 and OBU in 2016 and 2017.