April 2, 2014 Mahurangi Matters
Mahurangi RFC celebrating its 25th birthday
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The formation of the Mahurangi Rugby Club in 1989 was the product of a tumultuous time in New Zealand’s history, as Rogernomics dragged the economy into the free market era and Auckland became a greater focus for Mahurangi. These changes flow through and have an effect on everything — even your local rugby club, Ian Ward says. Ian was involved in the amalgamation of the Kaipara Flats, Omaha and Warkworth clubs to form the Mahurangi Rugby Club. During the 1970s the clubs all had senior teams in the North Auckland competition, and at one point Omaha had three, he says. However, numbers declined dramatically during the 80s, when agricultural subsidies ended as part of wider economic reforms implemented by the Lange government. In that way, Rogernomics was a catalyst to the amalgamation, Ian says. “It was the end of farming as we knew it for this area. There were no jobs for the young players.” Shearers moved from the area, and the younger generation no longer saw their future on the farm and headed
The trophy the teams will be trying to win.
off to university, Ian says. “The junior players would all head off and we’d never see them again.” As the numbers dropped, it made sense for the clubs to merge, he says. There was a long-standing rivalry between the clubs, so going from tackling a player to passing them the ball took a bit of getting used to. “It took about five years for a team culture to develop.” The formation of the Mahurangi
Rugby Club also coincided with the move from the North Auckland union to the North Harbour union. As roads improved in the area and Auckland continued to grow, the focus of the club and the region began to shift south. People became less keen on travelling to Whangarei to play a game when Albany was just down the road, he says. Northland rugby was also in a state of decline as farming became less profitable in the region.
It became quite a bitter split, Ian recalls, as the North Auckland union refused to allow the club to secede. It took a submission to the NZ Rugby Union for the change to happen. But history has shown it was the right decision as Northland rugby has continued to decline, he says. “The economy up there is really suffering, and that has an effect on the clubs.” However, it hasn’t all been positive for Mahurangi. The move to the North Harbour competition resulted in a step-up in the skill and intensity of the game, which made it harder for casual players to go out and have fun, he says. A lot of men with families have since given up the game to avoid getting injured, he says. The professionalisation of rugby, which came with Rogernomics, has also harmed club rugby, Ian says. Money is centralised in the upper echelons of the New Zealand Rugby Union and local clubs are struggling everywhere, Ian says. “All the money seems to go to the top players now.” Ian will be a guest speaker at the Mahurangi Rugby Club 25th anniversary celebrations.
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April 2, 2014
New under-19s team boost to Mahurangi rugby Blake Stubbs wanted to play rugby after finishing at Mahurangi College last year, however there was no under-19 team in Warkworth. Only three of his ex-Mahurangi classmates were looking to play this season, so the hope of forming a Mahurangi under-19 team looked bleak. The only alternative for the young electrical apprentice was to travel to Silverdale to play, or join the premier grade. But the step up in size and skill to the premier grade was a bit intimidating for the school leaver. “We’re not quite ready yet. Maybe next year,” Blake says. But Blake’s dad Bruce suggested he get some more people together to form a team. So Blake set up a Facebook page to see who was interested and set a date for a practice. “Sixteen people turned up to that practice. Ever since we’ve had over 20 come and play. “So it went from three of us who would have been playing rugby, to over 20.” It has been four years since the club fielded an under-19 team and many of the players are getting involved in the sport for the first time. The team is coached by internationally renowned coach, and former Warkworth player, John McKettrick. John formerly coached the USA sevens
Over 2 Mahurangi Rugby Club is fielding an under-19s team for the first time in four years.
team and still travels around the world as a guest coach. This year he’s travelling to Chile, the Cook Islands and Rwanda to offer his coaching skills to clubs. He was ITM Cup manager for North Harbour for about five years and also coached the Cook Islands sevens team to the Commonwealth Games in 2002. But he’s enjoying getting back to the roots of rugby and developing the future of the club. “I’ve had a great journey with the game, but it’s still great to put something back into the local community,” John says. “I think it’s quite exciting for the club to
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field an under-19 team in the area. It’s been sorely lacking.” The enthusiasm of the team is promising, John says. “It’s refreshing to see the interest it’s created. There are some skilful young athletes. It’s gaining momentum each week. They’re a very proactive bunch of guys.” Assistant coach Bernie Kose says it’s a real privilege to have John coaching the team. “His vast knowledge and experience is second to none around here. The guys really respect that,” Bernie says. Hopefully it is a sign of good things to come, he says. “
It’s a good group of kids and we’ve got some good talent coming through.” The team is sponsored by Mason Contractors. Mason consultant Alistair Mason says it’s important to encourage youth into sport. “Part of my philosophy of sponsorship is to support young people. I think sport keeps them out of trouble and helps them build confidence. Having so many young people getting involved in rugby is good for the community.” The first game is against Massey on April 5, then a home game against Silverdale at the 25th anniversary weekend.
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April 2, 2014 Mahurangi Matters
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Over 20 players are now turning up for team practice for the under-19s team.
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April 2, 2014
Bittersweet memories for players Wayne Mason doesn’t remember much about the first match that was played by the newly formed Mahurangi Rugby Club. But maybe that’s because he doesn’t want to remember. “I know we lost both games,” he remarks. Thanks to the NZ Herald, there is a photograph that records the occasion. It shows Wayne, who is now at Edmonds & Mason in Warkworth, hovering in the background as a Glenfield player digs up the hangi put down for the occasion. “I remember that the food was still a bit raw,” he grins. “The ground was too wet, and we had to barbecue it.” In the foreground of the photo is another Mahurangi player, Kerry Dobbyn, who is now at Parklane Kitchens and Interiors. Twenty-five years on, Wayne is still deeply involved in the club, and helps coach the juniors. One son has just left the club and is playing for seventh grade, and another is playing for J3. “The club’s going really well at the moment, especially the juniors,” he says. “There are 190 kids registered this year for the junior club. It’s really strong.” He recalls that the first four years were
Big day planned
Wayne Mason (second from left at the back) and Kerry Dobbyn (bottom left) with the Glenfield players, as the hangi was about to be dug up after the first game in 1989. Photo: NZ Herald
quite difficult, as rival teams from Warkworth, Kaipara Flats and Omaha got used to playing with each other, instead of against each other.
COMMISION R AT E
But there will certainly be no hard feelings on the day of the anniversary celebrations. “It should be a big day.”
Mahurangi rugby supporters are hoping to celebrate the club’s 25th anniversary with a win, when all of the clubs team’s play home games on April 11 and 12. The headline event will be the Mahurangi-Glenfield game at 2.45pm on the Saturday. The first Mahurangi premier game 25 years ago was against Glenfield. Club chairman Ian Bradnam says Mahurangi won both the Mahurangi-Glenfield cup and the Mitre 10 trophy when the teams last played at the end of last season. “Hopefully we will have a few wins to celebrate again,” Ian says. The junior teams will play on Friday night and Saturday morning while the under-19s play Silverdale. The Old Boys and the premier two team will also play on the Saturday. The day will end with a dinner at the RSA. Mahurangi veterans Howard Cooper and Tony Rogers will MC the event and DJ Happy Dayz will play into the night. Tickets to the event are selling out fast, so people need to get in quick, Ian says. Tickets to the RSA dinner are available at Warkworth Motorcycles. There will be a golf tournament on the Sunday to finish the weekend, Ian says.
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April 2, 2014 Mahurangi Matters
New multi-sports complex taking shape in Warkworth New netball courts, a hockey turf and playground are on track to be completed by June as part of the $1.3 million redevelopment of the Warkworth Showgrounds. A walking and cycle track around the border of the grounds is also expected to be completed by June and it is hoped it will eventually go right through to Warkworth. The new playground is to feature a ‘Space Net’ — a tetrahedron-shaped structure with a web of ropes for children to play on. Plans for the multisports complex were recently updated by the Rodney Local Board, following further feedback from sport groups. The latest changes are considered by the board to be minor, but include: n The realignment of rugby field number 4 and future hockey field number 2; n The multipurpose building has been repositioned so that it will be located adjacent to field number 2; n The netball courts have been
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