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Rugby League celebration and Rugby Union fighting

  • August 18th, 2009

Saturday’s Wellington Rugby League Grand Final at Fraser Park was a celebration of what is good about Rugby League.

Jules Kuresa’s Porirua Vikings gave a superb display of fitness and commitment to beat Wainuiomata, making the Wainui team look slow. The Wainuiomata College Kapa Haka group went some way to evening the balance for their community, singing strongly without amplifiers.  

Boot parties in the car park were enticing in the mild windless weather but there were no resulting disturbance to the family friendly atmosphere iinside the Park.

I’ve been proud to be involved with Wellington League this season. Next month I will hand over my chairmanship to the incoming Zone Board (now being selected by a Sparc dominated selection panel) with quiet satisfaction. I’ve helped to restore effectiveness and local mana in the administration, but it is time now for a Chairman for whom the game is a passion.

While I enjoy the game that is not enough to continue long term. The game needs a local leader who shares the obsession of the families that keep the clubs strong.  My satisfaction and delight instead comes from getting organisations working effectively, with internal rules and systems and cultures that turn prickly egos and strong opinions to advantage instead of disadvantage.

Despite momentous uncertainty at national administrative levels, our local Club League has had a strong season. Junior strength is rebuilding. The upcoming college series will showcase that. There are enough strong Clubs at senior level to make every weekend’s results interesting. A severe drop in pub charity sponsorship has been a worry for my Board, but the Clubs have just got on with the job. Jason Hemson’s good-humoured investment in relationships deserves some of the credit.

Clubs that last year were worrying the referees with player and sideline aggro have really improved their discipline. When everyone involved became convinced that the rules would mean what they say, it became much easier. Though it drew mockery at the time, I welcomed the chance to show the new policy in action last year by making no exception to the rules, even for Jerry Collins, when he was played without complying with the rules.

Of course I risk punch-up headlines next weekend with this comment, but I can not forbear noting that this year’s match violence and unsporting behaviour headlines have all come from Rugby Union.

Now to make sure that the college games here do not degenerate to Grammar v Kelston levels. Alex Smits has thrown himself into growing the college game. His extraordinary enthusiasm and organisational skills deserve to be repaid with an outstanding tournament.

The Pacific Cup tournament should also provide good entertainment, with nine teams entered.

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