Big weekend coming up for nine rugby clubs

OPINION: It’s nice how things work out in sport sometimes.

Take next Saturday’s club rugby finals day. Why? Because every club in Taranaki that fields a premier side will be represented.

Add in Patea and that total reaches nine clubs. From south to north Taranaki, supporters will be able to find their way to Yarrow Stadium where there will be celebrations and commiserations aplenty.

While the day no longer attracts the sort or crowds from a couple of decades ago, it’s still a pretty big day on the local sporting calendar.

For my mind it should be free to get in.

The fact that some clubs charge people during the year to get in is understandable, given they are trying to compliment the income they make over the bar with a few extra notes to cover costs.

While the good folk at Taranaki Rugby headquarters will cry poverty and argue they need the money to cover stadium costs after they gave their home away to various councils, why would you risk turning people away by charging them to get into an amateur event?

Those who will pay to get in the gate are in for another good day, weather permitting.

There is no doubt the two best teams have made the premier final.

New Plymouth Old Boys became the first team since 2003 to go through round robin play unbeaten.

Not surprisingly, that team was also from Old Boys and contained the likes of Nicky Hohaia, Mark Stewart, Hayden O’Neill, Ric Fabish, Chris Woods, Daryl Lilley, Brandan McGlashan, Paul Tito, Cory Niwa, Brendan Hart, James Kerr, Cory Niwa, Mark Urwin, Mel Barnes, Gordon Slater, Phil Mitchell, Phil Hammond, Thomas Trowern, Hamish Mitchell, Carl Barnes and Craig Jervis.

Remarkably, Hamish Mitchell is still playing in 2016.

That’s a pretty handy side and one that has a few more recognisable names than the current one.

Still, if Old Boys do manage to make it back-to-back titles and Liam McBride lifts the McMasters Shield, they they’ll deserve to.

Why? Because they have lost some pretty influential players throughout the year and are still fighting into the third Saturday of July.

How many other sides would lose the quality of the likes of Codey Rei, Lachlan Boshier, David Ormrod, Hayden Patene, Daniel Waite and Logan Rei and still win a semifinal? Not many, I’d suggest.

Not that Southern didn’t give it one almighty crack at the weekend.

Their performance was probably the best I’d seen from a Southern side, even better than their effort to win the title in 2013.

For a variety of reasons it wasn’t enough, though, and I’m sure the reasons why not were debated long after it became dark at Hicks Park.

While Old Boys did enough to win their semifinal they might have enough across the park to beat Tukapa next Saturday.

That might sound a bit strange, given they have already managed to do that twice already this season.

The reason is because Tukapa should have won their second round encounter and had it not been for the fact they subbed their best goal kicker then they might just have done it.

For me they have been a team that has shown the most improvement and have more influential guys in key positions, although it will be interesting to see if Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi is released again from the Hurricanes after he was a late call-up against Southern.

Old Boys will also benefit if Fin Hoeata starts because he will provide vital set piece ball.

Will it be enough? I suggest not, although finals are hard to pick.


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