As seen on nzherald.

In the sporting world of rugby league and rugby, we are used to seeing the All Blacks’ Barrett brothers or the Savea siblings wreaking havoc on their opponents.

Now the Onesemo-Tuilaepa twins are making moves on the field and are fast becoming names to look out for as they come through the ranks of representative rugby league.

Demielle and Christabelle Onesemo-Tuilaepa, 19, were chosen to represent New Zealand as part of the Ahi Kā Aotearoa squad, who travelled to the Gold Coast last month to play in this year’s Harvey Norman Women’s Championship.

They took on teams representing parts of Australia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and First Nations.

The sisters took part in this year’s RISE Talent Development Programme – an initiative set up to help better prepare young players for the demands of high-performance environments, with a focus on female players aged 17 to 21 years old.

The talented twins come from a family of 10 and hail from the villages of Lepā and Vavau in Samoa. They began their athletic careers from a young age.

“We played our first rugby game back in 2018, in Savaii, for the girls’ secondary schools rugby competition; then our village rugby team for the Lepā and Lotofaga union,” Demielle said.

“From here, my sister Christabelle and I were the youngest to be named in the Manusina squad at only 14 years old.

“[We] were chosen to play for the New Zealand U18 Barbarians Sevens team in the 2020 World School Sevens Tournament. I believe we were also the youngest on the team.”

‘Our dad had to look for equipment from all parts of Upolu’

Christabelle remembers the days she and her siblings were running around the rugby fields every weekend, helping to set things up before the players arrived.

Their parents are heavily involved in rugby in Samoa and have played at professional level. They describe their mother as a “huge advocate” for women in rugby and has always pushed them to work hard.

“I look back now. My siblings and I used to wake up early on Saturday mornings to help our parents set up the fields for the Atua i Saute Rugby Union in Lepā.”

By 7am, the twins would be at the fields setting up the pole paddings, sideline flags, ice, water and even music for the respective teams. Then after the tournaments, they would wash uniforms or take anyone who was injured to the hospital.

“So to now be the ones playing – I appreciate all the hard work that goes into organising sports tournaments,” Christabelle said.

[The sport] is not popular among Samoan women and the twins did not get to attend many rugby league tournaments because their village is about an hour from Apia.

“I remember that when we first started playing…our dad had to go look for players and equipment from all parts of Upolu, as the resources available were limited,” Christabelle said.

“If equipment was available, it was usually for the men’s team.”

The twins say there is a massive difference in resources. In New Zealand there is a coach, assistant coaches, trainer, manager, physio, wellbeing support, great facilities and gear.

“The establishment of development programmes for both men and women would hugely improve the sustainable development of rugby and sport in Samoa. This is something I would be keen to do in the future,” Christabelle said.

When the twins moved to Aotearoa for better opportunities, they found the environment was completely different from Samoa and they faced some challenges.

“Funny, I didn’t know the rules for my first league [game],” Christabelle laughed.

“My sisters and I were Googling ‘rugby league rules’ in the car on our way to our first rugby league game at Richmond, to learn it quickly.”

Demielle said women’s rugby in New Zealand is well-developed, with many pathways and opportunities for players to develop and succeed, such as the opportunity to represent New Zealand on the Ahi Ka 2024 team.

“It is not light on me that many girls, especially those who I played with in Samoa, do not have the same opportunities to also develop in the league.”

‘Hard work beats talent’

The girls encourage aspiring players to be disciplined and to work hard.

“A quote I live by is: ‘Hard work beats talent’. You can be a talented player but you have to put in the hard work to achieve your dreams and goals,” Demielle said.

Christabelle’s advice is simple: “Remember your why and let that fuel your drive to achieve your dreams.”

The future remains hopeful for the twins as they work toward a professional career in rugby league for the Kiwi Ferns or Black Ferns for rugby union; as well as becoming role models and inspirations for the upcoming generations that want to play league.

Read more on nzherald.

31 March 2024

18s Girl’s Finals

Auckland 10 v Canterbury 20 

The host team were first to put points on the board in the opening minutes of the game, scoring through their right edge before successfully kicking the conversion. They continued building momentum in the game, scoring again shortly after off the back of excellent ball play and strong finishing on the try line. The Cantabrians were unable to score in the first half, with the score set at 10-0 half time to Auckland.

The opening of the second half saw the Canterbury Bulls strike back to maintain a footing in the game, after a nifty dart from dummy half and over the try line to score. The girls from Canterbury continued to build momentum after an Auckland error gave them possession and the opportunity to score again. A successful conversion equalised the score to 10-all with minutes to go. The Aucklanders struggled to fire back as Canterbury continued to play with energy and pace. A barging run from a Canterbury forward 10 metres from the try-line saw them score a third try to take the lead. In the final minute of the match, the South Islanders sealed their win with one final try down their right edge, crowning them the national U18 girls champions for 2024.

 

18s Boys Finals

Wellington 20 v Canterbury 4

The boys from the capital were first to put points on the board in the opening minute of the match, with fast pace and skill giving them the opportunity to cross the white line. They continued to build momentum while keeping out the South Islanders, going on to score again minutes later and successfully converting. The halftime score was set at 10-0 in favour of the Wellington Orcas.

Wellington continued their roll-on from the first half, firing straight away to score twice in the opening minutes of the second half. Determined to stay in the game, the Cantabrians struck back with excellent ball play and speed down their left edge to give them their first try. This would be the final try of the match, the Orcas being too dominant and claiming the championship title.

31 March 2024

16s Girl’s Finals

Wellington  8 v Waikato 14

It was the defending champions Wellington who put points on the board first in their initial attacking set of the game, utilising their strong-running left edge. Shortly after they would cross for another, shifting the ball along to their right edge for the winger to score. The girls from the Waikato fought to stay in the game, scoring their first try just before the half to set the score at 8-4 to Wellington.

In a shift of momentum, the Waikato side struck first after the halftime break, with a show of pace from the left winger to beat the Wellington defender and score. A successful conversion put them in the lead by two points. The team would cement their win with another try in the last minute of the game through another individual display of speed down the right edge, dethroning the team from the capital.

 

16s Boys Finals

Canterbury  10 v Auckland 18

The Aucklanders came firing out of the gates to score right from the kick-off, with a well-placed kick seeing them win possession and go on to score. Minutes later, skilful passing and ball movement saw #7 Calvin Harris-Tavita score his second for the host team, followed by a successful conversion. Not to be diminished the Cantabrians rolled down the field with excellent momentum, before spreading the ball across to cross for their first try. The halftime score was 10-4 in favour of Auckland.

The first four minutes of the second half went scoreless, until an excellent cut-out pass by Auckland saw them score their third down their left wing. The boys from Canterbury battled to maintain their footing in this match, capitalising off an Auckland error in their own in-goal to score. A successful conversion saw the margin narrow to just four points. Now a one-try game, in the last minute before the full-time hooter, the determined Aucklanders stormed down the pitch to score once more.

31 March 2024

The National District 9s semi-finals action kicked off this morning to determine which teams and districts are headed to the finals later today. The first final will take place between the girls from Canterbury and Auckland at 2:00pm. In the boy’s grade, Wellington and Canterbury were successful in their matches and will head to the final at 2:30pm. Both finals will be broadcast on Sky Sport.

 

Boys 18s Semi-Finals

Wellington 12 v Auckland 10

Canterbury 8 v Otago 4

Both semi-finals were closely-contested, with the Wellington Orcas narrowly beating the the Aucklanders by a 2-point kick to secure their place in the final, and the Cantabrians beating Otago by one try to join them.

Boys 16s Finals – Wellington v Canterbury 2:30pm

 

Girls 18s Semi-Finals

Waikato 10 v Canterbury 16

Auckland 16 v Northland 4

The girls from Canterbury overcame the Waikato side by one converted try, while the Aucklanders showed their skill to overcome Northland by three tries to face Canterbury in the final.

Girls 18s Finals – Canterbury v Auckland 2:00pm

31 March 2024

The National District 9s semi-finals action kicked off this morning to determine which teams and districts are headed to the 16s finals later today. The first final will take place between the girls from Wellington and Waikato at 1:00pm. In the boy’s grade, Canterbury and Auckland were successful in their matches and will head to the final at 1:30pm. Both finals will be broadcast on Sky Sport.

 

Boys 16s Semi-Finals

Wellington 10 v Canterbury 12

Auckland 26 v Northland 4

The Cantabrian boys narrowly beat the Wellington Orcas by a 2-point kick to secure their place in the final, while the Aucklanders produced a dominant win over Northland.

Boys 16s Finals – Canterbury v Auckland 1:30pm

 

Girl’s 16s Semi-Finals

Wellington 12 v Manawatu 8

Auckland 4 v Waikato 8

Both girl’s semi-finals were close-contested, with Wellington and Waikato narrowly winning their games by one try to book a place in the finals.

Girl’s 16s Finals – Wellington v Waikato 1:00pm

30 March 2024

The New Zealand Rugby League National District 9s kicked off at Bruce Pulman Park this Easter Saturday, with Day 1 consisting of round-robin matches. By the end of the day, semi-finalist teams were confirmed consisting of the Wellington, Northland, Auckland and Canterbury boy’s sides, and Wellington, Waikato, Auckland, and Manawatu for the girl’s grade.

 

Boys 16s 

Round 1 of the day saw the Northland, Wellington, Bay of Plenty, and Auckland sides all claim their first victories. The Coastline team in Pool A are making their National District 9s Tournament debut.

In Round 2 Otago took their first win, while Wellington and Northland finished in a low-scoring deadlock at 4-all. In Pool B, the Aucklanders continued their winning streak and Canterbury chalked up their first win against Bay of Plenty.

In the final round of the day, Wellington and Northland cemented their spots in the semi-finals for Pool A by winning their respective matches. In Pool B it was the Aucklanders and Cantabrians who finished first and second ahead of Bay of Plenty and Taranaki to go through to playoffs.

 

Pool A Standings

Wellington

Northland

Otago

Coastline

 

Pool B Standings

Auckland

Canterbury

Bay of Plenty

Taranaki

 

Boys 16s semi-finals Sunday 31st March

Wellington v Canterbury – 9:30am Field 2

Northland v Auckland – 9:30am Field 5

 

Girls 16s 

In the girl’s grade the wāhine from Waikato, Wellington, Manawatu, and Auckland were all successful in winning their Round 1 matches. The Southland team in Pool A are the sole team representing the district in the tournament.

The second round saw Bay of Plenty take their first win of the day in Pool B, while Auckland, Wellington, and Waikato continued their winning momentum.

In Pool A Wellington completed a clean sweep after narrowly defeating Waikato, with the two sides locked in for semi-finals tomorrow. Pool B came down to points difference, with Auckland just coming out on top over Manawatu by four points. The two sides will face Wellington and Waikato in playoffs tomorrow.

 

Pool A Standings

Wellington

Waikato

Northland

Southland

 

Pool B Standings

Auckland

Manawatu

Bay of Plenty

Canterbury

 

Girls 16s semi-finals Sunday 31st March

Wellington v Manawatu – 9:00am Field 2

Auckland v Waikato – 9:00am Field 5

 

For all draw and results updates visit sporty.co.nz.

Field 1 will be broadcast on Sky Sport

Field 2 will be live-streamed on Veo

Field 3 will be live-streamed on YouTube 

30 March 2024

The New Zealand Rugby League National District 9s kicked off at Bruce Pulman Park this Easter Saturday, with Day 1 consisting of round-robin matches. By the end of the day, semi-finalist teams were confirmed consisting of the Wellington, Otago, Canterbury and Auckland boy’s sides, and Waikato, Northland, Auckland and Canterbury for the girl’s grade.

 

Boys 18s

Round 1 of the day saw the Waikato, Bay of Plenty, and Canterbury sides claim their first wins of the weekend, the Cantabrians beating Auckland the 2023 champions. Pool A’s North Island v South Island match-up between Wellington and Otago was an even contest ending in a draw.

In Round 2 Wellington and Otago chalked up their first wins of the tournament, while Canterbury continued their winning momentum. In Pool B Manawatu and Auckland clashed but neither side could clinch a victory, with the final score at 20-all.

Pool A came down to points difference in the third and final round of the day, with the Wellingtonians narrowly coming out on top of the pool ahead of Otago, for the two sides to advance to semi-finals. In Pool B the Canterbury side completed a clean sweep to finish first, followed by the Aucklanders who beat the Bay of Plenty Lakers.

 

Standings

Pool A

Wellington

Otago

Waikato

Northland

 

Pool B

Canterbury

Auckland

Bay of Plenty

Manawatu

 

Boys 18s semi-finals Sunday 31st March

Wellington v Auckland – 10:30am Field 2

Otago v Canterbury – 10:30am Field 5

 

Girls 18s 

The 18’s girl’s grade kicked off the tournament with Northland, Waikato, Canterbury, and Auckland all winning their initial games. The Coastline team in Pool B are making their National District 9s Tournament debut.

Round 2 of pool matches saw Taranaki and Wellington victorious for the first time in the day, while Auckland and Waikato continued to go undefeated in their respective pools.

In the final round of the day, in Pool A Waikato cemented their place in the semi-finals by beating Taranaki to go undefeated. Waikato will be joined in the semi-finals by Northland who defeated Otago. Pool B was taken out by the unbeaten Auckland wāhine, and Canterbury who produced a large win over Coastline.

 

Pool A Standings

Waikato

Northland

Taranaki

Otago

 

Pool B Standings

Auckland

Canterbury

Wellington

Coastline

 

Girls 18s semi-finals Sunday 31st March

Waikato v Canterbury – 10:00am Field 2

Auckland v Northland – 1o:00am Field 5

 

For all draw and results updates visit sporty.co.nz.

Field 1 will be broadcast on Sky Sport

Field 2 will be live-streamed on Veo

Field 3 will be live-streamed on YouTube 

Off the back of Ahi Kā Aotearoa’s recent campaign in the Harvey Norman Women’s National Championships, Sharnyze Pihema was named the joint Player of the Tournament and recipient of the Tahnee Norris Medal.

Teammate Monica Samita was named alongside her in the Tournament Team. Their selection was hard-earned with the Championships being an elite pathway tournament, where players from across Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea showcase their skills in the representative arena.

The Ahi Kā Aotearoa squad was selected from the successful ‘RISE’ Talent Development Programme. In partnership with the NRL, the RISE programme was delivered earlier this year across multiple sessions around the country. RISE aims to better prepare young players for the rigours of high-performance environments such as the NRLW, targeting female players aged 17-21.

Pihema shared, “Coming through the RISE programme, I feel it was beneficial not only for me but the other ladies as well… it showed us how much the game is growing and how important it is to keep the programme up for generations to come.

“Hopefully over the next few years, the programmes in New Zealand will continue to develop further than where they are now.”

Pihema co-captained the young Ahi Kā side in their successful 2024 campaign, which saw them win two matches despite being an under-21 squad playing against open women’s representative teams.

The 19-year-old hails from Manurewa in South Auckland with roots tying her to Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Kahungunu, and Samoa.

Reflecting on the moment she was awarded the MVP title Pihema said, “It was a massive shock to me, I didn’t expect my name to be called for MVP as there were many players that I thought were more worthy of the award. I was honoured and privileged to be that player”.

In humble fashion, the lock did not mention her formidable ball-running, reliable defence, and overall outstanding physicality and athleticism which earned her the MVP title.

Pihema got her first taste of rugby league in intermediate before becoming a Manurewa Marlins junior. Throughout her younger years, she participated in the New Zealand Māori Rugby League Rangatahi Kōtiro tournaments, represented the Auckland Vulcans in the National Youth Tournament, and featured in the New Zealand Secondary Schools team.

“It was tough to move up grades as the competition was getting harder each time, but I now understand that if I didn’t continue to move up, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

“My mother has supported me and my footy dreams since the day I picked up a rugby ball. No matter how difficult life was, she always managed to make time for my games and trainings.”

The young athlete’s years of dedication and training saw her earn selection for the NSWRL Manly Sea Eagles under-18s Tarsha Gale Cup team, in 2023.

“Playing in the Tarsha Gale competition was a good opportunity for me to see what the level of footy is like going forward.

“My advice to young girls wanting to pursue league would be to always take every opportunity you get. If you’re asked to go to a training with the top side, go. If you’ve been invited to a program to develop your skills, go. If your mate asks you to go run some extras before or after training, go.”

Her teammate 20-year-old Monica Samita also impressed on the Championship stage to rightfully earn her place in the Tournament Team. The skilful hooker is no stranger to elite-level football, as a returnee to the team from their inaugural campaign in 2023.

Samita shared, “I had a lot of expectations to help my teammates by helping with preparation for this competition and sharing my experience, but I also learnt a lot from my teammates.

“This year I enjoyed the team culture we had, getting to meet new people and run alongside them doing what we love.”

Not only was Otahuhu Leopards junior one of the most experienced in the squad, but also one of the most accomplished. In 2022 Samita was part of the winning Akarana Falcons team at the National Youth Tournament, then the New Zealand Resident Clubs team. She made her international debut for the Tonga National Women’s team later that year as one of the youngest in the squad.

Most recently, in 2023 Samita was selected for the first-ever Ahi Kā team before joining the runner-up Akarana Falcons Sky Sport Women’s Premiership side. In November, she earned her second international Test cap with the Tonga Women’s team in the Pacific Championships Eden Park triple-header.

“Over the years I’ve learnt a lot of lessons and taken a lot of losses, to become a better player and improve my performance as an athlete. I’m very grateful for the opportunities that I’ve been given, but there is still a lot of improvement to do for me to become the player that I aspire to be.”

Samita credited her remarkable football success to hard work, and the support of her family and coaches, sharing, “‘Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.’ This is something I always fall back on and have always been reminded of when I’ve felt like giving up and quitting.

“My parents have always supported me, especially my dad who has shown dedication and made countless sacrifices throughout the years. My previous coaches have all supported me…without their experience and knowledge I wouldn’t be half the player I am today.”

The achievements of the Ahi Kā Aotearoa team, Pihema, and Samita, are testament to the high calibre of local talent that has been fostered through the growing grassroots and domestic representative pathways.

Samita shared, “Look at the likes of Mele Hufanga, Krystal Rota, Mya Hill-Moana and so many more New Zealand women who have gone through the same pathways as us to get to where they are [in the NRLW].

“My ultimate football goal is to one day become an NRLW player for the Warriors, and to be able to put on the Black and White jersey one day.”

Her captain Pihema said, “My biggest footy goal is to make the NRLW but with that comes my mother. I want my mother to be able to be there the day I debut in my first game.”

There is no shortage of young New Zealand girls who, like Samita and Pihema, have dreams of playing in the NRLW and donning the Black and White jersey. Dreams of playing in the NRLW are much closer to home now, with the Warriors confirming an NRLW team for the 2025 season.

Sharnyze Pihema and Monica Samita are just a small reflection of the highly talented upcoming generation of female rugby league footballers in New Zealand, who we will undoubtedly see playing in the NRLW and Kiwi Ferns one day.

28 March 2024

New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) is proud to announce the return of the National District 9s Tournament for 2024, following the event’s success in 2022 and 2023.

This year the National District 9s Tournament will be held at Auckland’s Bruce Pulman Park over two days of the Easter weekend, Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st of March. Pool games will take place on the 30th, with all semi-finals and finals set for the 31st.

The top eight qualifying district teams in each of the grades will compete in the tournament, which will collectively see 32 teams participating. All four grades (16s Boys, 16s Girls, 18s Boys, and 18s Girls) will be hotly contested throughout the weekend for champions to be crowned.

In 2023 Auckland prevailed in both the Boys and Girls 18s grades, whilst Wellington claimed the 16s Girls grade and Manawatu the 16s Boys grade. 

Ten districts spanning the country will be represented at this year’s Nationals, namely; Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Coastline, Taranaki, Manawatu, Wellington, Canterbury, Otago, and Southland.

This will be Coastline’s inaugural campaign in the tournament, entering teams in the 16s Boys and 18s Girls grades. Taranaki, Bay of Plenty, and Southland all return to the Nationals having last participated in 2022. Southland will field a 16s Girls team for the first time.

The National District 9s is one of the most significant events in the grassroots rugby league calendar, as David McMeeken National Football Operations Manager at NZRL says, “The National 9s Tournament is an effective entry point for rugby league, as it encourages participation and growth of the game at a district level throughout the country.”

The 9s format also fosters interest and development in the girl’s game across the country with Luisa Avaiki, Head of Women’s Rugby League at NZRL saying, “I’m excited that we can continue the momentum of this tournament. It’s a significant event in our calendar as it encourages girls from every district across New Zealand to have a go and get involved in rugby league.”

 

Visit Sporty for the Tournament draw, results and the Day 2 Draw will be updated regularly.

All Field 1 games will be broadcast on Sky Sport.

All Field 2 games will be live-streamed on the NZRL YouTube Channel.

15 Feb 2024

 

The New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) proudly announces that the ‘RISE’ Talent Development Programme, in partnership with the NRL, is back for 2024.

After its inaugural year in NZ in 2023, the ‘RISE’ Talent Development Programme aims to better prepare young players for the rigours of high-performance environments such as the NRLW, targeting female players aged 17-19 years of age.

This weekend, the ‘RISE’ programme expands to various cities in New Zealand. Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch will host Rise sessions for young aspiring female players to improve their skills, learn the basics of strength and conditioning, and understand the significance of player well-being.

2023, which also saw the establishment of the NZRL Ahi Kā Aotearoa squad that competed in the Harvey Norman Women’s National Championship in 2023. Players who were selected for the squad were part of the inaugural Rise programme, which serves as a pathway for young females to

With the NRLW growing from six to 10 teams in 2023, female players have more opportunities to be recognised and establish themselves as elite athletes. The RISE programme is the next step for aspiring Kiwi players to become NRLW players and future Kiwi Ferns.

As seen on https://www.nzherald.co.nz/

Two sporting codes united on the golf course last week to raise more than $17,000 for Northland’s young rugby league players.

More than 110 golfers took to the inviting fairways and greens of The Pines Golf Club in Whangārei. Golfing teams came from as far away as Auckland to compete in the tournament, where they joined groups from Northland golf clubs out of Whangārei, Hikurangi, Ngunguru, Waitangi, Waipū, and Mangawhai, along with a healthy representation from home club members at The Pines.

Also among the playing fraternity were several former New Zealand and Samoan rugby league international representatives — including Duane Mann, Gary Prohm, Jerry Seuseu, and Ali Lauiti’iti. Funds raised from the golf will be utilised by Rugby League Northland’s youth teams, boys and girls, travelling to national tournaments throughout New Zealand.

The Legends of League golf tournament was run under a three-player Ambrose team format, and was won by the Whangārei team Rangikorero Roaders comprising David McDonald, Thomas McDonald, and Matt Dennis.

Event organiser and North Golf Association development officer Dave Mullan said the Legends of League golf event showcased how different sporting codes could work together – under the auspices of the Northland Sports Coalition – not only keeping the population fit, but also enabling participants to enjoy social engagement through sports.
“We’ve had multiple charity fundraising events at The Pines over the years, which combined have attracted thousands of players, and it was highly encouraging to see dozens of ‘new faces’ playing in the Legends of League tournament … golfers who have united their love of two sports all for a very worthy cause under a charitable umbrella doing good for the community,” Mullan said.

A charity auction at the event, conducted by the highly entertaining Louis McDonald of Eves Real Estate, had money rolling in from an enthusiastic crowd bidding on such highly collectable rugby league sporting memorabilia as:

  • a signed Kiwis jersey that sold for $1,300;
  • a signed Warriors jersey that sold for $750; and
  • a signed Paramatta Eels jersey that went for $400.

Plus a pair of boots worn and signed by Kiwis and Penrith Panthers hard-man James Fisher Harris that sold for $500.

The Tuurangawaewae Sports and Cultural club Pat Bennett Memorial 9s Tournament will take place Saturday 2 March 2024 from 8.30 am to 4.00 pm, at Paterson Park in Ngaaruawaahia.

 

The objectives of the tournament are to promote Rugby League, to provide all invited teams with a great day of football to start the season, to promote Turangawaewae Rugby League Club to new members, to provide our schoolboys and junior netball teams with a fundraising opportunity and to host and welcome all supporters and spectators to our tournament and our club.

The Tournament will comprise a day of Hard and Fast 9’s Men’s and Women’s Rugby league and a Netball tournament. There will also be a club sprint race, so pick your fastest sprinter and we’ll see which club will take out the bragging rights for 2024. Join us for a fun filled, action packed day of whaanau day of Rugby League and Netball.

 

The tournament venue is Paterson Park River Road, Ngaaruawaahia. Parking is available at the Ngaamiro Health clinic carpark and around the venue.

 

All you have to do is complete your online player registration form. https://www.eventcreate.com/e/patbennett9s once completed you will receive a registration confirmation.

All teams will be affiliated to a District Body recognized by NZRL.

You can have up to 20 players per team (see tournament rules below).

If your club is out of the Waikato District, you must apply to your local league district seeking approval to participate in an “out of zone” tournament.

Entry fee is $200 per League team and $100 per Netball team . There are 2 payment options;

  1. Internet banking
  2. credit Card
  3. You can pay $200 cash on the day at the admin

 

Just so you know, all registration monies go towards the prize money. No profit is made from this event.

 

DRAW

Depending on the number of teams entered will determine the number of games that will be played. The draw will be issued to each registered club by Wednesday 28 February 2024.

 

Click here for the full tournament information pack

December 13 2023 

 

In a year of significant growth for rugby league in Aotearoa, historical results were achieved in nationwide domestic competitions, which saw talent emerge across the motu both on and off the field. NZRL would like to congratulate the Domestic Rugby League Award Recipients for 2023. 

The Grassroots Club of the Year was highly contested. NZRL would like to recognise the clubs shortlisted in contention for this award: Dannevirke Tigers (Mid Central), Howick Hornets (Counties Manukau), Manukau Magpies (Counties Manukau), Porirua Vikings (Wellington).  

The Grassroots Club of the Year for 2023 isrecognised for both on-field and off-field achievements, but also for implementing NZRL’s “Kiwi Way” values, carrying out community outreach, growing participation, and showing commitment to the development of rugby league in their respective districts and zones. Congratulations to 2023’s Club of the Year, Mid Central’s Dannevirke Tigers.  

The 2023 Men’s and Women’s Domestic Player of the Year awards go to Ōtāhuhu Leopards and Auckland Vulcans duo Sione Feao and Onjeurlina Leiataua Hunt. 

Sione Feao led the charge for the Ōtāhuhu Leopards throughout their season in the Fox Memorial Premiership, which earned him the Auckland Rugby League Player of the Year award. He was then fundamental in the Auckland Vulcans’ inaugural National Premiership campaign, which saw them go all the way to win their first-ever Premiership. The back-rower and prop was named Player of the Match in their grand final against the Counties Manukau Stingrays, before he featured again in the Auckland Invitational team against the Aotearoa New Zealand Maōri side. 

The versatile and powerhouse veteran Onjeurlina Leiataua Hunt takes home the Women’s Player of the Year award. After a stand-out season for the Ōtāhuhu Leopards in the Steele-Shanks Women’s Premiership, she was named Lock of the Year in Auckland Rugby League’s Team of the Year. She was instrumental in the Auckland Vulcans’ maiden Sky Sport Women’s Premiership campaign, which saw them claim a historic first Premiership title to complete a Vulcans double. Leiataua Hunt then laced up for the Auckland Invitational side against the Aotearoa New Zealand Maōri women. 

 The Junior (U19) Boys and Girls Players of the Year are Jacob Laban (Wellington) and Monica Samita (Akarana).   

Wellington native Jacob Laban was an integral player in the One New Zealand Warriors U19 S.G. Ball Cup team, before becoming a mainstay in the semi-finalist Knock On Effect New South Wales Cup team. The back-rower’s stellar performance throughout the season for both Warriors teams earned him selection and a debut for the New Zealand Kiwis A team in their Test match against the Tonga A side. 

Akarana’s Monica Samita co-captained the inaugural Ahi Kā Aotearoa team in the Australian Harvey Norman Women’s National Championship, held in the Gold Coast earlier this year. The skilful hooker steered the spine for City in the Steele-Shanks Women’s Premiership, before taking a lead in the young Akarana side who were Sky Sport Women’s Premiership finalists. 

The Coach of the Year for 2023 is awarded to Akarana’s Phil Gordon. The highly experienced and knowledgeable Gordon coached the Te Atatu Roosters to the Fox Memorial Premiership Plate Final, and the Akarana Falcons men to third place in the National Premiership. He also coached the victorious Aotearoa Whaanui 16s Boys in the National 16s and 18s Tournament. 

Manager of the Year goes to Wellington’s Rachael Leafe. Ever-present in grassroots rugby league, outside of being involved in her local club the Randwick Kingfishers, Rachael managed several teams this year: the champion Orcas 16s Girls in the National 9s Tournament, the finalist Orcas 16s Girls in the National Youth Tournament, the Orcas 20s Boys in the Ruben Wiki Cup, and the victorious National Secondary Schools Girls team for which she was awarded Manager of the Tournament. 

Counties Manukau’s Zachary Moulder is awarded the 2023 Trainer of the Year. Zach provided his expertise and experience as a trainer to the Counties Manukau representative teams throughout the season. Outside of his practical skills and knowledge, Zach earned this award for his outstanding service including consistent efforts and willingness to assist however needed, and his ability to connect with players. 

Paki Parkinson has taken home Match Official of the Year for the fourth consecutive year. In addition to his participation in all significant NZRL national tournaments, Paki was also of service by upskilling and imparting his knowledge to other referees. Most notably in 2023, Paki refereed the National Men’s Premiership Final and New Zealand Universities Test matches, and was a touch judge in the Kiwi Ferns v Tonga international Test match.  

Raukawa Ki Runga’s Nick Hennessy has been awarded Pirtek Volunteer of the Year for his utmost commitment and dedication towards growing female rangatahi participation, in the Ōtaki region. Nick’s focus on developing the girl’s and women’s game as a coach and mentor is outstanding, selflessly volunteering his personal time and resources to aid them however possible. To read Nick’s story, click here.  

NZRL CEO Greg Peters says, “2023 has been a year of significant growth for the game in New Zealand, which has only been possible through the continuous dedication of people across our rugby league communities.  

Thank you for the remarkable work on and off the field to ensure rugby league continues to thrive – thank you for another amazing year.”   

 

2023 NZRL DOMESTIC AWARD WINNERS 

 

Grassroots Club of the Year –Dannevirke Tigers (Mid Central) 

Shortlist: Howick Hornets (Counties Manukau), Manukau Magpies (Counties Manukau), Porirua Vikings (Wellington) 

 

Men’s Domestic Player of the Year – Sione Feao (Auckland) 

Shortlist: Enoch Tautalo (Wellington), Francis Leger (Auckland), Geronimo Doyle (Counties Manukau), Mikaele Mafi (South Island), Phranklyn Mano-Le-Mamea (Counties Manukau),  

 

Women’s Domestic Player of the Year – Onjeurlina Leiataua Hunt (Auckland) 

Shortlist: Florence Toluono Waqa (Counties Manukau), Lydia Quedley-Turua (Akarana), Tamara Ruaporo (Wellington) 

 

Junior Boys (U19) Player of the Year – Jacob Laban (Wellington) 

Shortlist: Te Kaio Cranwell (South Island), Rodney Vea (Counties Manukau), Zyon Maiu’u (Auckland) 

 

Junior Girls (U19) Player of the Year – Monica Samita (Akarana) 

Shortlist: Braxton Sorensen-McGee (Auckland), Seriah Palepale (Auckland) 

 

Coach of the Year – Phil Gordon (Akarana) 

Shortlist: Ake Pereira (Wellington), David Reedy (South Island), Manu Clarkson (South Island), Ruka Loza (Counties Manukau), Sefo (Frank) Fuimaono (Auckland) 

 

Trainer of the Year – Zachary Moulder (Counties Manukau) 

Shortlist: Chris McMillan (Counties Manukau), Lee Mou (South Island), Paul Fisiiahi (Counties Manukau), Sheldon Akavi (Wellington) 

 

Manager of the Year – Rachael Leafe (Wellington) 

Shortlist: Melanie Piri (South Island), Mel Tukapua (South Island), Tania Morunga (Counties Manukau) 

 

Match Official of the Year – Paki Parkinson (Bay of Plenty) 

Shortlist: Jack Feavers (South Island), Jaxon McGowan (Northland), Liam O’Brien (South Island) 

 

Pirtek Volunteer of the Year – Nick Hennessy (Wellington) 

Shortlist: Dylan and Ruscelle Rintoul (Waikato), Michelle Harding (South Island), 

Phylis Latu (Counties Manukau), Scott Tulua (Counties Manukau) 

 

As seen on canterburyrugbyleague.co.nz

Ngā Puna Wai was a hotbed of rugby league education and development for five consecutive days last week as the most significant event of Canterbury Rugby League’s partnership with NRL club Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs to date unfolded.

Led by Craig Wilson (Pathways and Development), Fifita Hala (Recruitment) and Adam Hartigan (General Manager – Pathways), the Bulldogs delivered three coach upskilling sessions and two days of skill development for junior players.

“The feedback’s been really good – it’s only in its infancy, but the first steps have been really positive, the coaches are great and we want to give them access to as much information, video, skills and drills, and support,” Wilson said.

“We’re very lucky in that we’ve got a good league club behind us and a couple of guys who are very passionate about the development of rugby league in Phil Gould and Adam Hartigan.

“We’ve been discussing it for 12 or 18 months how we can benefit this area, but it’s an area rich in rugby league talent, going back to the Brent Todds, and [more recently] Jordan Riki, Slade Griffin, Griffin Neame.

“We’re just hoping that if we can assist and develop the game here, there will be more to come.

“We’re committed for the next two years and hopefully that will form a catalyst for more guys to come through the system and play in the NRL, not just at the Bulldogs but at other clubs.”

Wednesday’s initial seminar was held for national level and pathways coaches, Thursday’s session was for youth club and 13s/14s representative coaches, and on Friday, senior club coaches and 15s grade coaches and older got their opportunity.

On Saturday afternoon, around 100 juniors from the 13s and 14s grades experienced a skill development training day at Ngā Puna Wai. The following day roughly the same number of 15s-18s boys and 15s-23s girls had the same invaluable chance.

“They focused on rugby league’s fundamentals and the Bulldogs’ big thing was effort, so we just wanted everyone listening and putting their best foot forward,” Canterbury Rugby League Director of Football Jamie Lester enthused.

“There were lots of smiling faces and prizes given out by the Bulldogs to players who really showed that effort they were looking for.

“Sunday’s session saw the players split into backs and forwards, so the training was a bit more position specific. Our coaches had been learning the Bulldogs during the week, too, so they were instilling some of the stuff they had learned.

“Both days were mixed gender – that is part of the Bulldogs’ values, that everyone is treated as equals.”

Wilson provided some further insight into the ethos behind the Bulldogs’ methods.

“It’s not so much about the sporting element – because they can learn the skill anywhere – it’s about the little things: the attention to detail, how you approach your training, the preparation you need to do,” Wilson explains.

“Eighty percent of going to that next level is learning and knowing how to train, and perseverance. If they can do that, they get into the mindset of being able to train well … and when you have to perform those skills under pressure and at speed, they become competent and that builds confidence, which builds their game and allows them to grow and develop.

“The first thing that fails under pressure or fatigue [in a game] will be their skill level, so it’s a fine line. Teaching these kids to listen and that discipline doing drills, once they pick that habit up, that’s something they have for the rest of their lives – in footy and in general.”

Lester praised the Bulldogs’ dedication to the club’s burgeoning development and pathways relationship with CRL, formally announced in July.

“The big thing for Canterbury Rugby League was being able to showcase that partnership,” Lester said.

“To be able to have the Bulldogs here for five days just shows the commitment they’re willing to put in. It’s not their first visit either – this is the third time they’ve been over this year. They’re really putting the time and energy into bringing our youth through.

“It was a great opportunity for our community, from a coach and player perspective, to get involved and learn and grow.”

As CRL CEO Malcolm highlights, the Bulldogs’ activities on this trip have not been limited to the Canterbury region.

“We are excited and grateful for the Bulldogs investing their time in being in Christchurch for five days,” Humm said.

“Our intent is to support our coaches with their developmental learning and impart this on female and male players, whether this be through the club system or representative programs.

“We also have a greater purpose through the relationship, and this is to support the wider South Island. Examples of this include CRL and the Bulldogs spending time at St Thomas of Canterbury College – the recent NZRL Secondary Schools Tournament champions – and the Bulldogs travelling to Greymouth to deliver a coaching and player development clinic after their Christchurch visit.

“We aim to spread these opportunities wider for future visits.”

Read the full article on canterburyrugbyleague.co.nz

As seen on canterburyrugbyleague.co.nz

Papanui Tigers and Greymouth Greyhounds have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will see the clubs share players during the 2024-25 seasons, with the Greyhounds competing in the Canterbury Rugby League Men’s Premiership and the Tigers lining up in the Canterbury Cup Premier Reserves.

The MoU, executed on November 20, comes on the back of a motion carried by CRL affiliated clubs to change the senior men’s competition structure. All clubs fielding a Premier grade team will also be required to have a team in the Premier Reserves grade.

Greymouth enjoyed a strong campaign in the 2023 Canterbury Cup – finishing atop the ladder at the end of the regular season before losing its semi-final – while Papanui won the Division One title after making the difficult decision to withdraw from the Premiership. The MoU allows both clubs to fulfil their obligations under the new competition structure.

Under the terms of the MoU, the Greyhounds will be able to call upon players registered with the Tigers and vice versa, while the eventual goal of the arrangement is for both clubs to field standalone teams in both grades.

“It is exciting to have Greymouth Greyhounds included in the Canterbury Men’s Premiership,” Canterbury Rugby League CEO Malcolm Humm enthused.

“Their results in 2023 demonstrated they are on a strong performance trajectory and, combined with Papanui Tigers, the increase in senior men’s numbers provides a real pathway opportunity for both of these clubs and their players.

“Additionally, we believe this will provide a significant boost to rugby league on the West Coast. Canterbury Rugby League views this as our opportunity to support Southern Zone and the West Coast in growing the sport in a traditional rugby league heartland.”

The historic addition of the Greyhounds to the CRL Premiership – a first for a West Coast club – creates seven-team Massetti Cup and Canterbury Cup competitions for 2024.

Teams will play 12 regular season matches (two full rounds) ahead of the four-team finals series format, while discussions are underway to stage a pre-season knockout competition.

The Greyhounds’ six home games will consist of three each at Wingham Park in Greymouth and Papanui Domain.

“It’s really exciting for us – it’s going to be a challenge, but it’s a challenge we’re going to take with open arms and give it our best shot,” West Coast Rugby League chairman Brad Tacons said.

“In 2017 we lost the senior (West Coast) comp, the Greyhounds were established in 2019 to keep the local guys playing footy – and we only had 17 players, so we’ve hung in there till this point and this is by far our most significant step and most exciting one.

“It will be really good for the game on the Coast to be able to play in a meaningful competition.”

Tacons also expressed West Coast Rugby League’s eagerness to simultaneously aid Papanui’s quest to eventually feature at Massetti Cup level again.

“We’re right behind supporting Papanui,” he affirmed.

“We know the struggles that clubs go through, we know when it seems like there’s no coming back – it seems like the world’s ended. But you rally round, you get good people around you and you make it happen.

“They want to get back into Premier football and we’re there to provide support to them, and likewise from their side, they’re there to help us grow the game on the Coast.”

The clubs are far from strangers – they had an MoU in 2022, whereby the Greyhounds effectively served as a Canterbury Cup affiliate for the Tigers, who were then still competing in the top flight.

“We’re really excited to team up with the Greyhounds, who have been playing really well to be at this level and deserve their opportunity as well,” Papanui Tigers president Grant Bond praised.

“The Greyhounds have already had a relationship with us from our previous MoU, so they knew what we were about and what we stood for.

“We were keen to get together and it’s all quite positive.”

As the Tigers’ rebuild continues, the chance to stage Massetti Cup matches at Papanui Domain and for the club’s top players to feature in the Premiership are immediate advantages of the agreement with the Greyhounds.

Forecasting further, the partnership shapes as a vital stepping stone to Papanui’s return to Premier grade status under its own steam.

“Playing premier football back at Papanui will be great, but it’s more about our players and teams competing at the highest level we can, and obviously to get back to a premier grade in our own right,” Bond adds.

“If we do it the right way it will give us more of a sustainable process rather than a ‘hanging on by the skin of our teeth’ type scenario.”

Greymouth’s elevation also means the Thacker Shield will be competed for between Premier clubs in 2024.

Reinvigorated as a challenge trophy this season, the Greyhounds ironically defeated the Tigers in a Canterbury Cup clash to take possession of the Thacker Shield, which they successfully defended in their remaining home games.

The Greyhounds will be required to put up the Thacker Shield at their home games next year, whether at Wingham Park or Papanui Domain.

Read more on canterburyrugbyleague.co.nz

20 November 2023

Members of the New Zealand grassroots rugby league community across the motu get the chance to see their hard mahi recognised through the Pirtek Volunteer of the Month award.

This award is given to a volunteer who displays the core values of NZRL’s Kiwi Way: being family first, innovative, inclusive, respectful, and humble. NZRL is excited to announce that Michelle Harding is the final winner of the Pirtek Volunteer of the Month award for 2023.

Michelle has been at the heart of Christchurch’s Halswell Hornets Rugby League Club for more than 20 years, with her support spanning the club’s landscape and grades throughout this time.

She spent six years managing junior teams, then managed senior teams, including the Premier and Reserves men’s sides, for six more years. Rain or shine, Michelle was there to ensure smooth sailing for the players and all involved. After becoming recognised as an excellent manager, she was given the role of Canterbury Bulls and South Island Scorpions 16s and 18s manager.

Michelle served as the Club Secretary for several crucial years, including rebuilding the clubrooms following the Christchurch earthquakes and through COVID-19. Although Michelle has since retired as Club Secretary, this year she stepped up to organise the annual fundraiser, the club’s event of the year. Pirtek CEO Chris Bourke says, “Michelle’s dedication and commitment has made her an integral part of the Halswell Rugby League club, and they are extremely lucky to have her!”

“Michelle is a well-deserving winner of the Pirtek Volunteer of the Month.”

Congratulations Michelle!

October 23 2023

The 2023 16s and 18s boys and girls national representative fixtures showcased some of the best young rugby league talent throughout the four matches held at Auckland’s Bruce Pulman Park. Both Aotearoa Whaanui boys and girls teams produced wins over the Auckland invitational sides, while the Clubs v Schools matches saw the boys Clubs and girls Schools teams emerge as winners.

 

Aotearoa Whaanui 16s Girls v Auckland Invitational Girls

Aotearoa Whaanui 38-0

The Aotearoa Whaanui girls team portrayed much skill and strength in their convincing win over the Auckland Invitational girls side. Scoring for the match was opened by Whaanui winger Prayer Playle who crossed the white line off the back of an expert long ball by halfback Hera Maihi. Maihi was dependable with kicking duties throughout the match, successfully kicking four conversions and one penalty goal. The Whaanui side proved too strong for the Aucklanders going on to score eight unanswered tries, finishing the game as victors 38-0. Centre Te Maia Sweetman finished the match with a double, with her teammates Prayer Playle, Bailey Edwards, Ava-Lea Maxwell Ogilvy, Kayshana Rapana, and captain Mihikorama Kerr all crossing for tries.

 

Aotearoa Whaanui 16s Boys v Auckland Invitational Boys

Aotearoa Whaanui 20-10

Spine-tingling hakas set the scene for the Auckland v Aotearoaa Whaanui 16s Boys clash at Auckland’s Pulman Park. However, the first forty was one-way traffic for the Aotearoa side.  South Island’s Azaniah Roebeck opened the scoring, followed by consecutive tries to South Island’s Torino Jackson, Waikato’s Fine Fale and Wellington’s Shae TeKauri Taitua. The half-time hooter worked wonders for the Auckland side as they regrouped to find their comeback form. Auckland’s Charleston Te Rore set the scene for the second half, earning the 09’s first points through a barging run up the middle. Consecutive Auckland tries to Peter Faaleaga, and Steven Moala followed, but the clock rang full-time, and the comeback was cut short. An impressive second-half Auckland effort wasn’t enough for Whaanui’s first-half dominance, final score 20-10.

 

New Zealand Resident Clubs Boys v National Secondary Schools Boys

New Zealand Resident Clubs Boys 30-22

This intense clash saw heavy contact and excellent ball play from both 18s boys sides as they battled for the full 70 minutes. The Clubs team came out firing, with Captain Rodney Tuipulotu-Vea scoring first after an opportunity created by a kick from half Maui Winitana-Patelesio. Winitana-Patelesio was also successful for three conversions in the match. The NZ Resident Clubs side continued to dominate the first half, scoring three more tries bringing the score to 20-0 at halftime. The Schools side made a resurgence in the second half after prop forward Malachi Filipo crossed to put their first points on the board. They maintained momentum scoring two more consecutive tries but were ultimately outlasted by the Clubs boys, who went on to win the game 30-22.

 

New Zealand Resident Clubs Girls v National Secondary Schools Girls

National Secondary Schools Girls 32-28

Fullback Jessica Patea put first points on the board for NZ Clubs, but NZ Schools had the upper hand for most of the first half. Containing the Schools’ middles proved challenging as field position swayed heavily in favour of the Secondary Schools side. Schools led 20-6 at the break through tries to Shafenior Lui, Evelyn Roberts, Danii-Nicole Gray and Josinah Filisi Tauilili. Filisi Tauilili scored a double to kick off the final forty before Schools’ hooker Evelyn Roberts barged over for her second shortly after. NZ Club captain Braxton Sorensen-McGee cleverly found space on the line, injecting momentum into her side as they bridged the gap 32-12. That momentum carried as the return set saw winger Danii Mafoe crash over after a full-field effort from NZ Clubs with the deficit now 16. The Clubs began to find space as their comeback edged closer and closer. Consecutive line breaks saw winger Elenoa Havea barge over, making it a ten-point game with ten to go. More metres down the middle from an inspired Schools side saw it become a four point game with two minutes to go. A powerful kick-off from NZ Schools kept their lead alive as they got the ball back on the return set, but a knock-on soon after gave Clubs one final shot. A last-ditch attempt from Clubs to score a 100m try fell agonisingly short as the full-time hooter rang; NZ Schools held on to victory, 32-28.

October 19 2023

The 2023 16s and 18s boys and girls representative fixtures boast an extreme amount of top talent from across the motu. New Zealand Rugby League is proud to announce the return of the Clubs vs Schools match-up as well as the return of Aotearoa Whaanui vs Auckland Invitational. This 16s clash puts the top talent from around Aotearoa up against the melting pot that is Tāmaki Makaurau, whilst the 18s Clubs vs Schools fixture is a combination of the best players from both the NZRL National Secondary Schools and National Youth Tournaments. All matches are set to take place at Auckland’s Bruce Pulman Park on Monday 23 October.

NZRL General Manager of Football & High-Performance Motu Tony stated, “Another successful year of the National Secondary Schools and NZRL National Youth Tournaments gave our rangatahi and rugby league community a fantastic opportunity to come together.

“The tournaments showcased the enormous talent we have playing and participating in rugby league, and our expanded female National Youth Tournament showed that the future of the Kiwi Ferns is bright and exciting.

“The efforts of those who performed exceptionally well in our tournaments have been recognised. They will get another opportunity to connect and compete with the rugby league talent throughout the motu.

I am excited about the talent we have that will compete in these fixtures and also proud that we can offer our young female players another representative opportunity.”

All games are free to attend at Bruce Pulman Park, Takanini, and will be live-streamed on the NZRL YouTube channel: youtube.com/playlist

 

Aotearoa Whaanui 16s Girls v Auckland Invitational 16s Girls

Monday 23 October Bruce Pulman Park 10:05 am

2023 NZRL AOTEAROA WHAANUI 16S GIRLS SQUAD

  • Manaia Blake-Thompson – Mid Central Vipers
  • Olive Connolly – South Island Scorpions
  • Lahnayah Daniel – Waikato
  • Bailey-Rae Edwards – Bay of Plenty
  • Mihikorama Kerr – Waikato
  • Charley Lahmert – Mid Central Vipers
  • Dormay Laufiso – South Island Scorpions
  • Riana Le’afa-Paki – Wellington Orcas
  • Hera Maihi – Wellington Orcas
  • Te Waikaukau Mathieson-Julian – Mid Central Vipers
  • Ava-Lea Maxwell-Ogilvy – South Island Scorpions
  • Sophie Parker-Cornelius – Mid Central Vipers
  • Prayer Playle – Mid Central Vipers
  • Kayshana Rapana-Phillips – South Island Scorpions
  • Te Ngaroahiahi Rimoni (Fanua) – Wellington Orcas
  • Celine Russell – South Island Scorpions
  • Lei Sipaia – Wellington Orcas
  • Te Maia Sweetman – Mid Central Vipers
  • Courtney Tyrell – Wellington Orcas

 

Aotearoa Whaanui 16s Boys v Auckland Invitational 16s Boys

Monday 23 October Bruce Pulman Park 11:35 am

2023 NZRL AOTEAROA WHAANUI 16S BOYS SQUAD

  • Huritetaha Barlow – Waikato
  • Kairus Booth – South Island Scorpions
  • Kaea Cribb – Waikato
  • Fine Fale – Waikato
  • Ezekiel Hammond-Siolo – South Island Scorpions
  • Rico Lemalie – South Island Scorpions
  • Torino Jackson – South Island Scorpions
  • Bishop Neal – South Island Scorpions
  • PJ Palamo – South Island Scorpions
  • Turama Paranihi – Waikato
  • Tavita Pomale – Bay of Plenty
  • Azaniah Roebeck – South Island Scorpions
  • Isaiah Savea – South Island Scorpions
  • Lorenz-Markel Strickland Rere – Wellington Orcas
  • Micah Sula – South Island Scorpions
  • Shae TeKauri Taitua – Wellington Orcas
  • Delahoia Te Pakeke-Kakoi – South Island Scorpions
  • Timau Utiaro – Waikato
  • Romana Brent Whitiora – Waikato

 

 NZRL National Secondary Schools Boys v NZRL New Zealand Resident Clubs Boys

Monday 23 October Bruce Pulman Park 1:05 pm

2023 NZRL NATIONAL SECONDARY SCHOOLS BOYS SQUAD

  • Malakai Cama – Rotorua Boys’ High School
  • Zeke Faga-Ieti – St. Thomas of Canterbury College
  • Quiann Feterika-Mafoe – St. Paul’s College
  • Jeriko Filipi-Talisau – St. Paul’s College
  • Malachi Filipo – St. Paul’s College
  • Noah Harmer-Campbell – St. Thomas of Canterbury College
  • Chelden Hayward – St. Thomas of Canterbury College
  • Mikaele Ilaiu – Rotorua Boys’ High School
  • Maretino Kaloudau – St. Thomas of Canterbury College
  • Sosaia Latu – Otahuhu College
  • Tepatasi Laumalili – De La Salle College
  • Meihana Pauling – St. Thomas of Canterbury College
  • Elijah Paea – De La Salle College
  • Ezekiel Paulo – St. Thomas of Canterbury College
  • Kalani Peyroux-Donaldson – De La Salle College
  • Jason Salalilo – St. Thomas of Canterbury College
  • Junior Sikuvea – De La Salle College
  • Jackson Stewart – St. Thomas of Canterbury College
  • Lennox Tuiloma – St. Thomas of Canterbury College

2023 NZRL NEW ZEALAND RESIDENT CLUBS BOYS SQUAD

  • Te Kaio Cranwell – South Island Scorpions
  • Carlos Davis – Akarana Falcons
  • Atelea Filo – Counties Manukau Stingrays
  • Joshua Grewe – South Island Scorpions
  • Jaydyn Hoeta – South Island Scorpions
  • Hirini Holmes – Counties Manukau Stingrays
  • Psalms Iosua – Akarana Falcons
  • Dakota Kakoi – South Island Scorpions
  • Matiasi Lolesio – Auckland Vulcans
  • Xavier Lynch – South Island Scorpions
  • Allan Malama-Talataina – Auckland Vulcans
  • Lyrakai-Layke Posimani – Akarana Falcons
  • Raphael Sio – Akarana Falcons
  • Eteuati Jeremiah Tatupu – Counties Manukau Stingrays
  • Jamie Junior Te Whata
  • Francis Tuimauga – Counties Manukau Stingrays
  • Rodney Vea – Counties Manukau Stingrays
  • Maui Winitana-Patelesio – Wellington Orcas
  • Caleb Wright – Waikato

 

 NZRL National Secondary Schools Girls v NZRL New Zealand Resident Clubs Girls

Monday 23 October Bruce Pulman Park 2:45 pm

2023 NZRL NATIONAL SECONDARY SCHOOLS GIRLS SQUAD

  • Danii-Nicole Gray – Auckland Girls Grammar School
  • Riley Fruean-Otineru – McAuley High School
  • Ivana Lauitiiti – McAuley High School
  • Te Raukura Leafe – St. Mary’s College
  • Shafenior Lui – Southern Cross Campus
  • Shanthie Lui – Southern Cross Campus
  • Latesha Mitchener – Auckland Girls Grammar School
  • Luca-Bella Ngatuere-Ongley – St. Mary’s College
  • Seriah Palepale – Auckland Girls Grammar School
  • Evelyn Roberts – McAuley High School
  • Indiana Russell-Lia – St. Mary’s College
  • Giovanna Suani – Auckland Girls Grammar School
  • Josinah Filisi Tauliiili – Southern Cross Campus
  • Faith Tavita – Auckland Girls Grammar School
  • Alianna Tonu’u – McAuley High School
  • Jemma Tonu’u – McAuley High School
  • Tonga Toutai – Southern Cross Campus
  • Billie Va’a – St. Mary’s College
  • Paea Uilou – Auckland Girls Grammar School

2023 NZRL NEW ZEALAND RESIDENT CLUBS GIRLS SQUAD

  • Dorothy Brunt – Akarana Falcons
  • Maia Davis – Wellington Orcas
  • Gillian Fa’aumu – Auckland Vulcans
  • Tiaane Tavita Fesolai – Akarana Falcons
  • Dallas Flasza-Taupau – Wellington Orcas
  • Elenoa Havea – Auckland Vulcans
  • Milahn Ieremia – Akarana Falcons
  • Mele Kaufusi – Counties Manukau Stingrays
  • Tyler Limmer – South Island Scorpions
  • Leaony Macdonald-Tuimauga – Counties Manukau Stingrays
  • Danii Mafoe – Akarana Falcons
  • Tayla-Benét Masoe – Counties Manukau Stingrays
  • Ashlee Matapo – Akarana Falcons
  • Lialanie Muamua – South Island Scorpions
  • Jessica Patea – Wellington Orcas
  • Amiria Ranapia – Wellington Orcas
  • Marewakiterangi Samson – Akarana Falcons
  • Braxton Sorensen-McGee – Auckland Vulcans
  • Pasikalia Tuiatua – Wellington Orcas

29th September

The National Boys Youth Tournament Grand Finals today saw new victors South Island Scorpions crowned as the 16s grade champions, while the Counties Manukau Stingrays went back-to-back as 2022 and now 2023 18s title-holders. The Auckland Invitational 16s, Aotearoa Whaanui 16s, and New Zealand Resident Clubs 18s representative teams were named in the prizegiving ceremony, with selection having taken place throughout the tournament.

 

National Boys Youth Tournament Grand Finals recap:

 

16s Boys

Grand Final – South Island Scorpions v Waikato

Final score: South Island Scorpions 26-10

In this thrilling Grand Final, the South Islanders shot out of the gates first, scoring twice and converting once within the first 15. Momentum swung the other way as the young Waikato men fought back hard to regain their footing in the game. Tries by Walker and Whitiora and a successful conversion from Cowan equalised, bringing the score to 10-all halftime. In the second half’s opening, the Scorpions capitalised off a Waikato penalty for Roebeck to cross for his second try. Although the Waikato side continued to show great physical strength and speed in this contest, the Scorpions proved too strong, scoring twice more and claiming the title 26-10.

 

South Island Scorpions try scorers

#2 Azaniah Roebeck – 2 tries

#3 Ezekiel Hammond-Siolo

#4 Luciano Felise

#24 Bryce Hauraki-Carle

Conversions: #1 Kairus Booth – 3/5

 

Waikato try scorers

#13 Romana Brent Whitiora

#17 Mairangiatea Walker 

Conversions: #6 Te Kororangi Joshua Cowan – 1/2

 

18s Boys

Grand Final – South Island Scorpions v Counties Manukau Stingrays

Final score: Counties Manukau Stingrays 24-12

A repeat of the 2022 Grand Final, the returning champions Counties Manukau held majority of the possession and dominance in the first half. Francis Tuimauga and Sosaia Latu scored, with Latu successfully converting both, putting them in the lead 12-0 at halftime. The South Islanders were finally rewarded with two tries in the second half, both to Te Kaio Cranwell, as they refused to go down without a fight. Despite tough efforts and skilful play from the Scorpions, Counties Manukau were too formidable and claimed a back-to-back victory of the 18s grade.

 

South Island Scorpions try scorers

#12 Te Kaio Cranwell – 2 tries

Conversions: #6 Eli Bijl-Kakoi – 2/2

 

Counties Manukau Stingrays try scorers

#5 Sosaia Latu

#7 Cameron Tuipulotu

#10 Francis Tuimauga

#21 Eteuati Jeremiah Tatupu

Conversions: #5 Sosaia Latu – 4/4

 

2023 NZRL AOTEAROA WHAANUI 16S SQUAD

  1. Kaea Cribb – Waikato
  2. Kairus Booth – South Island Scorpions
  3. Ezekiel Hammond-Siolo – South Island Scorpions
  4. Fine Fale – Waikato
  5. Tavita Pomale – Bay of Plenty
  6. Lorenz-Markel Strickland Rere – Wellington Orcas
  7. Delahoia Te Pakeke-Kakoi – South Island Scorpions
  8. Timau Utiaro – Waikato
  9. Turama Paranihi – Waikato
  10. Torino Jackson – South Island Scorpions
  11. Pj Palamo – South Island Scorpions
  12. Bishop Neal – South Island Scorpions
  13. Romana Brent Whitiora – Waikato
  14. Isaiah Savea – South Island Scorpions
  15. Micah Sula – South Island Scorpions
  16. Huritetaha Barlow – Waikato
  17. Shae TeKauri Taitua – Wellington Orcas
  18. Rico Lemalie – South Island Scorpions
  19. Azaniah Roebeck – South Island Scorpions

Emerging Player: Tevita Kilisimasi-Ioane – Mid Central Vipers

Tournament MVP: Fine Fale – Waikato

 

2023 NZRL NEW ZEALAND RESIDENT CLUBS BOYS 18S SQUAD

  1. Caleb Wright – Waikato
  2. Raphael Sio – Akarana Falcons
  3. Hirini Holmes – Counties Manukau Stingrays
  4. Dakota Kakoi – South Island Scorpions
  5. Xavier Lynch – South Island Scorpions
  6. Eli Bijl-Kakoi – South Island Scorpions
  7. Maui Winitana-Patelesio – Wellington Orcas
  8. Rodney Vea – Counties Manukau Stingrays
  9. Atelea Filo – Counties Manukau Stingrays
  10. Francis Tuimauga – Counties Manukau Stingrays
  11. Lyrakai-Layke Posimani – Akarana Falcons
  12. Te Kaio Cranwell – South Island Scorpions
  13. Carlos Davis – Akarana Falcons
  14. Psalms Iosua – Akarana Falcons
  15. Joshua Grewe – South Island Scorpions
  16. Jaydyn Hoeta – South Island Scorpions
  17. Eteuati Jeremiah Tatupu – Counties Manukau Stingrays
  18. Matiasi Lolesio – Auckland Vulcans
  19. Allan Malama-Talataina – Auckland Vulcans

Emerging Player: Jarod Cook – Northland Swords

Tournament MVP: Rodney Vea – Counties Manukau Stingrays

 

For past live streams, results of all Boys Youth Day 3 games, and all tournament content, visit linktr.ee/nzrlgrassroots.

29th September

The 2023 National Boys Youth Tournament has not disappointed, with the stage now set for the Grand Finals. In their first tournament stint as a District, Waikato 16s have exceeded expectations by making it all the way to the big dance to face a strong Scorpions outfit. In a massive campaign for the Southern Zone, both their 16s and 18s teams have earned title contention, with the 18s set for a 2022 Grand Final rematch against the Counties Manukau Stingrays.

The 16s Boys Grand Final match-up was set after a dominating victory by the South Island Scorpions and a hard-earned win by the Waikato young men. The Scorpions outfit put the Auckland Vulcans to the sword, winning 24-0, while Waikato fought and outlasted the Akarana Falcons 22-14. The 16s Grand Final between the Scorpions and Waikato will be played on Puketawhero Park Field 1 at 11:00 am, scheduled for live-stream on the NZRL YouTube page. In this match-up, players to watch out for include Lennox Tuiloma, Turama Paranihi, and Te Kororangi Joshua Cowan. The final to determine 3rd place of the 16s Boys grade will be played prior between the Auckland Vulcans and Akarana Falcons at 9:00 am on Puketawhero Park Field 2.

The Grand Final in the 18s grade sees an exciting rematch of the 2022 Grand Final between the South Island Scorpions and Counties Manukau Stingrays. In 2022, the Counties side dominated, comfortably claiming the title 28-12. In their semi-final, the Stingrays secured their spot in the final after beating the Akarana Falcons 16-8. Meanwhile, the Scorpions showed their dominance in their semi-final against the Vulcans, winning 22-4. The Grand Final will be played at 12:30 pm on Puketawhero Park Field 1, to be live-streamed on the NZRL YouTube page. This final will feature several recognisable standout players taking the field, including 2022 MVP Rodney Vea-Tuipulotu, Meihana Pauling, and Te Kaio Cranwell. The 3rd place final will be played earlier between the Auckland Vulcans and Akarana Falcons boys at 10:15 am on Puketawhero Park Field 4.

 

National Boys Youth Tournament Finals Draw  – Friday 27th September

16s Boys

Grand Final – South Island Scorpions v Waikato 11:00 am (Puketawhero Park Field 1*)

3rd/4th place final – Auckland Vulcans v Akarana Falcons 9:00 am (Puketawhero Park Field 2)

 

18s Boys

Grand Final – South Island Scorpions v Counties Manukau Stingrays 12:30 pm (Puketawhero Park Field 1*)

3rd/4th place final – Auckland Vulcans v Akarana Falcons 10:15 am (Puketawhero Park Field 4)

 

*live-streamed game on youtube.com/@NZRugbyLeague

For the entire National Boys Youth Tournament finals day draw and to keep up with all the action, visit linktr.ee/nzrlgrassroots

28th September

The highly anticipated 2023 NZRL National Boys Youth Tournament has been full-on, as teams of the best young men from throughout the country have battled for victory on the field. This year has seen an expansion as the Coastline, Bay of Plenty, and Waikato Districts entered the tournament. Day one saw some thrilling pool games, and day two produced closely-contested semi-finals across both 16s and 18s age-grades, with Grand Finals now set to be played tomorrow.

 

National Boys Youth Tournament Major Semi-Finals recap:

16s Boys

Semi-Final 1 – Auckland Vulcans v South Island Scorpions

Final score: South Island Scorpions 24-0

The South Islanders came strong out of the gates, scoring and converting twice within the first ten minutes. Scorpions kicker Kairus Booth then successfully notched a penalty kick while the Vulcans side struggled to score, bringing it to 14-0 at halftime in favour of the Scorpions. In the second half the South Island Zone boys continued to dominate and keep the Aucklanders from scoring, comfortably securing their place in the 16s Grand Final. #9 Rico Lemalie finished the match one try short of a hat trick.

 

Semi-Final 2 – Waikato v Akarana Falcons

Final score: Waikato 22-14

Akarana were the first to put points on the board after #12 Quinn Opuariki crossed for a try. Not to be outdone, the young men from the Waikato returned with some fiery attack to score twice and put them in the lead before halftime, 10-4. An intense second half saw the Aucklanders strike back, scoring quickly after kick-off to equalise. The two sides continued to battle going try for try, but ultimately it was Waikato who came out victorious 22-14. Waikato #9 Turama Paranihi finished with a double that helped his team take the win.

 

18s Boys

Semi-Final 1 – Counties Manukau Stingrays v Akarana Falcons

Final score: Counties Manukau Stingrays 16-8

In this battle of the Aucklanders, the Counties Stingrays produced a more dominant performance but the Falcons refused to quit, fighting right up until the final whistle was blown. The South Aucklanders kept Akarana scoreless to 16-0 up until the 43rd minute, but spirited gameplay was seen as both sides put their bodies on the line under heavy contact. Akarana centre #4 Isaiah Fale impressively scored a double  to put his team on the board, but Counties Manukau claimed the victory and will feature in tomorrow’s 18s Grand Final.

 

Semi-Final 2 – South Island Scorpions v Auckland Vulcans

Final score: South Island Scorpions 22-4

The South Islanders came out firing, scoring twice and converting once within the first ten minutes. The Scorpions side continued to dominate the Auckland side in the first half, scoring again while keeping the Vulcans out, 16-0 at the half. After several close attempts, the Vulcans were finally rewarded with a try in the 37th minute, but the Southern Zone team were too strong and comfortably took the win 22-4. Scorpions #6 Eli Bijl-Kakoi performed his kicking duties well, scoring six points with three successful conversions from four attempts.

 

National Boys Youth Tournament Finals Draw  – Friday 27th September

16s Boys

Grand Final – South Island Scorpions v Waikato 11:00 am (Puketawhero Park Field 1*)

3rd/4th place final – Auckland Vulcans v Akarana Falcons 9:00 am (Puketawhero Park Field 2)

 

18s Boys

Grand Final – South Island Scorpions v Counties Manukau Stingrays 12:30 pm (Puketawhero Park Field 1*)

3rd/4th place final – Auckland Vulcans v Akarana Falcons 10:15 am (Puketawhero Park Field 4)

 

*live-streamed game on youtube.com/@NZRugbyLeague

For the entire National Boys Youth Tournament finals day draw and to keep up with all the action, visit linktr.ee/nzrlgrassroots

 

September 27 2023

Tanaia-Aroha Herniman and Maia Crutcher featured in the inaugural U19 Ahi Kā Aotearoa team, who competed in the Harvey Norman Women’s Championship in the Gold Coast earlier this year. Now, the girls are preparing to move to Sydney together in the coming months, having signed on with the Manly Sea Eagles for their 2024 U19 Tarsha Gale Cup squad.

The Ahi Kā Aotearoa representative team Tanaia and Maia were part of comprised U19 players who participated in the ‘RISE’ Talent Development Programme, delivered in partnership with the NRL. The programme aims to better prepare young players for the rigours of high-performance environments such as the NRLW, targeting female players aged 17-19.

With the Ahi Kā team, Tanaia and Maia faced the First Nation’s Gems, QLD Ruby’s, NSW Country Women, and South Australia in the Championship. The Harvey Norman Women’s National Championship is an elite pathways tournament allowing players across Australia and now New Zealand to showcase their skills in the representative arena. “There’s a lot more opportunities for us as girls to get out there”, shared Tanaia.

Tanaia hails from Whangaparaoa, while Maia proudly comes from Whakapara, north of Whāngarei. Maia was part of the Northern Swords Wāhine Squad for the 2022 National Women’s North Island Championship. The 18-year-old has come up through the grades for the last three seasons at the Hibiscus Coast Raiders, and previously participated in NZ Māori Rugby League kōtiro tournaments. “The game has definitely grown ever since I first started playing, it’s good to see”, she reflected. Having previously played rugby union for Whangaparaoa College, Tanaia made the code switch to league and although only in her second year of playing she has already made a name for herself to earn sought-after recognition and opportunities.

As newcomers competing in their first National Girls Youth Tournament, Maia and Tanaia featured in the squad of 2022 champions and 2023 finalists, the Akarana Falcons. The girls earned selection for the Falcons after stellar seasons for the Hibiscus Coast Raiders in the Auckland Rugby League 18s competition this year. The pair shared much anticipation for the next step in their rugby league journey, which takes them to join the Manly Sea Eagles for the 2024 NSWRL U19 Tarsha Gale Cup season. As she now prepares to make the move to Sydney with her teammate and friend, Tanaia shared, “We’re super excited to be able to have this opportunity.”

“It’s a massive opportunity; we’re super humble and truly grateful,” said Maia.

 

26 September 2023

The 2023 National Girls Youth Tournament did not disappoint, as some of the best rugby league wāhine from around the country represented their Zones and Districts over three days. Following the successful inaugural tournament in 2022, 2023 saw an expansion as the Waikato and Bay of Plenty Districts joined the fold to field their best female talent. Spectators were treated to some exhilarating football, as returning players alongside new up-and-comers left it all on the field. The Grand Finals saw Counties Manukau Stingrays successfully defend their claim to the 16s Girls title, while the Auckland Vulcans dominantly took the victory of the 18s Girls grade. The very best young women from the tournament earned selection for the NZRL Aotearoa Whaanui and Resident Clubs representative squads to play in October.

 

NZRL 2023 National Girls Youth Tournament Grand Finals recap:

16s Girls

Grand Final – Counties Manukau Stingrays v Wellington Orcas

Final score: Counties Manukau 18-4

The Counties Manukau side put points on the board first after the ball was excellently spread wide for their left winger #2 Tiare-Anne Leuaga to score. Leuaga crossed again shortly after for her second, to bring the score to a modest 8-0 at halftime. As the second half kicked off, the Wellingtonians fought hard to regain some momentum, producing some excellent defensive work followed by Kyla Pasene scoring to put them on the board. Not to be outdone, the Stingrays outfit replied with a try by winger Shafenior Lui, then successfully converted through Limilaiti Paea. To seal Counties’ second title and complete her hat trick, Leuaga scored again, bringing it to 18-4 full-time.

 

18s Girls

Grand Final – Akarana Falcons v Auckland Vulcans

Final score: Auckland Vulcans 38-0

In this battle of Tāmaki Makaurau, a formidable Vulcans side dominated 2022 champions the Akarana Falcons, who saw losses to their squad throughout the tournament due to injuries. The Vulcans lineup featured several seasoned players, including Braxton Sorensen-McGee, Seriah Palepale, and Latesha Mitchener, while Claudia Finau captained the Falcons. Winger Angelica Vahai opened up scoring for the Auckland Rugby League side, followed quickly by Gillian Fa’aumu, who put another four points on the board. The side was relentless, scoring twice more and keeping the Akarana girls scoreless, 20-0 at halftime. The second half saw courageous play by the Akarana Falcons, including multiple close scoring attempts and a line break by fullback Malita Tapu. Ultimately, the Vulcans proved too dominant, claiming the 18s Girls title and finishing the game 38-0.

 

2023 NZRL Aotearoa Whaanui 16s Girls Squad:

  1. Celine Russell – South Island Scorpions
  2. Lei Sipaia – Wellington Orcas
  3. Te Maia Sweetman – Mid Central Vipers
  4. Courtney Tyrell – Wellington Orcas
  5. Prayer Playle – Mid Central Vipers
  6. Manaia Blake-Thompson – Mid Central Vipers
  7. Hera Maihi – Wellington Orcas
  8. Te Ngaroahiahi Rimoni – Wellington Orcas
  9. Riana Le’afa-Paki – Wellington Orcas
  10. Olive Connolly – South Island Scorpions
  11. Mihikorama Kerr – Waikato
  12. Lahnayah Daniel – Waikato
  13. Kayshana Rapana-Phillips – South Island Scorpions
  14. Charley Lahmert – Mid Central Vipers
  15. Dormay Laufiso – South Island Scorpions
  16. Sophie Parker-Cornelius – Mid Central Vipers
  17. Te Waikaukau Mathieson-Julian – Mid Central Vipers
  18. Bailey Edwards – Bay of Plenty
  19. Ava-Lea Maxwell-Ogilvy – South Island Scorpions

Tournament MVP: Mary-Jane Taito – Counties Manukau Stingrays

 

2023 NZRL New Zealand Resident Girls Clubs 18s Squad:

  1. Angelica Vahai – Auckland Vulcans
  2. Elenoa Havea – Auckland Vulcans
  3. Marewa Samson – Akarana Falcons
  4. Tiaane Tavita Fesolai – Akarana Falcons
  5. Danii Mafoe – Akarana Falcons
  6. Braxton Sorensen-McGee – Auckland Vulcans
  7. Maia Davis – Wellington Orcas
  8. Mele Kaufusi – Counties Manukau Stingrays
  9. Dallas Taupau – Wellington Orcas
  10. Leaony Macdonald Tuimauga – Counties Manukau Stingrays
  11. Ashlee Matapo – Akarana Falcons
  12. Claudia Finau – Akarana Falcons
  13. Tayla Masoe – Counties Manukau Stingrays
  14. Lialanie Muamua – South Island Scorpions
  15. Pasikalia Tuiatua – Wellington Orcas
  16. Dorothy Brunt – Akarana Falcons
  17. Jessica Patea – Wellington Orcas
  18. Milahn Ieremia – Akarana Falcons
  19. Amiria Ranapia – Wellington Orcas

Tournament MVP: Claudia Finau – Akarana Falcons

 

For past live streams, results of all Girls Youth Day 3 games, and all tournament content, visit linktr.ee/nzrlgrassroots.

25th September

The 16s Girls Grand Final match-up was set after a dominating victory by the Counties Manukau Stingrays and a late comeback by the Wellington Orcas girls. The Stingrays outfit put Mid Central to the sword, winning 22-6, while the Orcas were able to fight back and outlast the Scorpions 16-10. The 16s Grand Final will be played on Owen Delaney Park Field 1 at 11:00 am, also scheduled to be live-streamed on the NZRL YouTube page. In this match-up, players to watch out for include sisters Shanthie and Shafenior Lui, Billie Va’a, and Te Ngaroahiahi Rimoni. The final to determine 3rd place of the 16s Girls grade will be played prior between the Mid Central Vipers and South Island Scorpions at 9:00 am on Owen Delaney Park Field 5.

The Grand Final in the 18s grade sees a rematch between the two Auckland sides, the Akarana Falcons and the Auckland Vulcans. The teams were in the same pool faced off earlier in the tournament, with the Vulcans side modestly winning 14-4. After significant losses to their squad from injury, the Falcons narrowly beat the Counties Manukau Stingrays in their semi-final 12-10. Vulcans secured their place in the final after beating a strong Wellington side 14-4. This Auckland derby Grand Final will be played at 12:30 pm on Owen Delaney Park Field 1, to be live-streamed on the NZRL YouTube page. This final will feature several formidable 2022 Tournament Team players, including Milahn Ieremia, Claudia Finau, and MVP Seriah Palepale. The 3rd place final will be played earlier between the Counties Manukau Stingrays and the Wellington Orcas 18s girls at 10:15 am on Owen Delaney Park Field 5.

 

National Girls Youth Tournament Finals Draw  – Tuesday 26th September

16s Girls

Grand Final – Counties Manukau Stingrays v Wellington Orcas 11:00 am (Owen Delaney Park Field 1*)

3rd/4th place final – Mid Central Vipers v South Island Scorpions 9:00 am (Owen Delaney Park Field 5)

 

18s Girls

Grand Final – Akarana Falcons v Auckland Vulcans 12:30 pm (Owen Delaney Park Field 1*)

3rd/4th place final – Counties Manukau Stingrays v Wellington Orcas 10:15 am (Owen Delaney Park Field 5)

 

*live-streamed game on youtube.com/@NZRugbyLeague

For the entire National Girls Youth Tournament finals day draw and to keep up with all the action, visit linktr.ee/nzrlgrassroots

 

25th September

The much anticipated 2023 NZRL National Girls Youth Tournament has been jam-packed, as teams of the best young girls from throughout the country have battled for victory on the field. Day one saw some thrilling pool games, and day two produced intense semi-finals across both 16s and 18s age-grades, with Grand Finals now set to be played tomorrow.

 

National Girls Youth Tournament Major Semi-Finals recap:

16s Girls

Semi-Final 1 – Counties Manukau Stingrays v Mid Central Vipers

Final score: Counties Manukau Stingrays 22-6

The first half of the match saw some outstanding attacking play from both sides, with the Vipers only narrowly down 12-6 at halftime. In the second half, the Stingrays kept the Vipers from scoring and eventually proved too dominant for the Mid Central Zone team, chalking up two more unanswered tries. The final whistle blew with the score at 22-6, five tries to one in favour of the Counties Manukau Stingrays girls.

 

Semi-Final 2 – Wellington Orcas v South Island Scorpions

Final score: Wellington Orcas 16-10

In this close match-up, the Southern Zone girls got off to a strong start, leading by two tries to none with the score line at 10-0 at halftime. Upon the second-half kick-off, Watene of the Orcas quickly scored initiating a shift in momentum. The team from the Capital continued to fight back into the game, scoring twice more to take the lead 12-10. Another Orcas try by Maihi with only 6 minutes left on the clock sealed the win for the Wellingtonians, securing their place in the Grand Final.

 

18s Girls

Semi-Final 1 – Auckland Vulcans v Wellington Orcas

Final score: Auckland Vulcans 14-4

The first half of this match was a back-and-forth contest, with the halftime score tied up at only 4-4 in a physical game. In the second half, the Aucklanders kept the Orcas out and scored twice more, with one successful conversion by Sorensen-McGee, to take the win 14-4.

 

Semi-Final 2 – Counties Manukau Stingrays v Akarana Falcons

Final score: Akarana Falcons 12-10

In a battle between the two Auckland sides, this semi-final came down to conversions. The Falcons did well to score first, but Counties were quick to reply with one of their own, followed shortly by another. The halftime score was 10-6 in favour of the Stingrays. An intense second half saw the reigning champions, Akarana, fight hard to keep Counties out, with the Falcons eventually scoring and successfully converting the try to take the win by two points.

 

NZRL National Girls Youth Tournament Finals Draw  – Tuesday 26th September

16s Girls

Grand Final – Counties Manukau Stingrays v Wellington Orcas 11:00 am (Owen Delaney Park Field 1*)

3rd/4th place final – Mid Central Vipers v South Island Scorpions 9:00 am (Owen Delaney Park Field 5)

 

18s Girls

Grand Final – Akarana Falcons v Auckland Vulcans 12:30 pm (Owen Delaney Park Field 1*)

3rd/4th place final – Counties Manukau Stingrays v Wellington Orcas 10:15 am (Owen Delaney Park Field 5)

 

*live-streamed game on youtube.com/@NZRugbyLeague

For the entire National Girls Youth Tournament finals day draw and to keep up with all the action, visit linktr.ee/nzrlgrassroots

September 22nd

2022 saw one of the most significant events in the grassroots rugby league calendar introduce the inaugural National Girls Youth Tournament. Now back for 2023, the Boys and Girls National Youth Tournaments will each spread over three days, kicking off with the Girls Tournament at Taupo’s Owen Delaney Park. Both tournaments will feature 16s and 18s grades.

Throughout the competition, the Aotearoa Whaanui and New Zealand Clubs teams will be chosen by selectors to play on October 23rd, at Bruce Pulman Park in Auckland. The Aotearoa Whaanui teams will be chosen from the 16s tournaments to face the Auckland Invitational sides. The New Zealand Clubs teams will be selected from the 18s tournaments to play against the New Zealand Schools teams.

 

National Girls Youth Tournament

Sunday 24 – Tuesday 26 September 

Owen Delaney Park, Taupo

Returning to Taupo, the National Girls Youth Tournament will see talented rugby league wāhine from throughout the country competing for their Districts and Zones over three days. The inaugural Girls Youth Tournament in 2022 had a spectacle ending with two narrow finals in both the 16s and 18s grades.

This tournament continues to enhance NZ’s female game, with Alexis Tauaneai completing her journey from the inaugural 2022 National Youth Tournament to becoming a part of the St. George Illawarra Dragons NRLW team. Additionally, Taleenza Nelson secured a Development contract with the Cronulla Sharks. The 2023 tournament will undoubtedly feature wāhine looking to complete the same journey.

 

National Boys Youth Tournament

Wednesday 27 – Friday 29 September

Puketawhero Park, Rotorua

The National Boys Youth Tournament will close off grassroots footy for September, returning to Rotorua’s Puketawhero Park to be held over three days. This tournament will see the best young tama toa compete across the 16s and 18s grades from Zones and Districts, including; Northland, Auckland, Akarana, Counties, Waikato, Hauraki, Bay of Plenty, Coastline, Mid Central, Wellington, and South Island.

 

Girls Youth Tournament Live Stream Schedule 

Sunday 24/09

10:00 am Wellington v Waikato 16 Girls (Pool B)

11:00 am South Island v Wellington 18 Girls (Pool B)

1:00 pm Counties Manukau v Akarana 16 Girls (Section A)

2:00pm Akarana v Waikato 18 Girls (Pool A)

 

Monday 25/09

10:00 am Mid Central v Waikato 16 Girls (Pool B)

11:00am Akarana v Auckland 18 Girls (Pool A)

1:00 pm 16 Girls Semi-Final

2:00 pm 18 Girls Semi-Final

 

Tuesday 26/09

11:00 am 16 Girls Finals

12:30 pm 18 Girls Finals

 

 

Boys Youth Tournament Live Stream Schedule

Wednesday 27/09

10:00 am Akarana v Wellington 16 Boys (Pool B & C)

11:00 am South Island v Bay of Plenty 18 Boys (Pool B & C)

12:00 pm Auckland v Waikato 18 Boys (Pool A)

1:00 pm South Island v Mid Central 16 Boys (Pool B & C)

2:00 pm Bay of Plenty v Mid Central 16 Boys (Pool B & C)

3:00 pm Counties Manukau v Northland 16 Boys (Section A)

 

Thursday 28/09

10:00 am Counties Manukau v Auckland 16 Boys (Section A)

11:00 am Wellington v Mid Central 18 Boys (Pool A)

1:00 pm 16 Boys Semi-Final

2:15 pm 18 Boys Semi-Final

 

Friday 29/09

11:00 am 16 Boys Finals

12:30 pm 18 Boys Finals

 

For the National Youth Competition live streams, complete draws, results, and to keep up with all the rugby league action visit linktr.ee/nzrlgrassroots.

6 September 2023

 

Members of the New Zealand grassroots rugby league community across the motu get the chance to see their hard mahi recognised through the Pirtek Volunteer of the Month award.

 

This award is given to a volunteer who displays the core values of NZRL’s Kiwi Way: being family first, innovative, inclusive, respectful, and humble. NZRL is excited to announce that the winner of Volunteer of the Month for August 2023 is Nick Hennessy.

 

Nick is a proud member and coach of the kōtiro (young girls) at the Raukawa Ki Runga club in Ōtaki where over the past 2 years he has encouraged new girls to join the club and become involved in rugby league. He has always made sure that players and their families feel warmly welcomed.

 

Pirtek CEO Chris Bourke says, “Nick welcomes and appreciates new players regardless of their skill level”.

 

As a coach Nick goes above and beyond to help the kōtiro and their whānau overcome any barriers to their participation in the team and rugby league. This includes 3-hour round trips transporting girls to and from training, providing financial assistance, offering individual training sessions for players in need, and bringing in others with special skill sets to assist with coaching.

 

“Nick has also created an environment outside of league to help the girls form bonds with each other.”

 

With the young Raukawa girls being involved in multiple sports teams, Nick communicates with other coaches regarding trainings and games to make sure his players aren’t becoming overloaded. He welcomes the opinions of parents to ensure the girl’s well-being and safety are at the forefront and will adjust player positions so the girls feel comfortable on the field.

 

Behind every good man, is a great wife and that is Nick’s wife Taramea. They make a phenomenal team and the Raukawa whānau are extremely appreciative of everything they do, every opportunity they provide, and the overwhelming support they give to the kōtiro and whānau.

 

“Congratulations Nick for being Pirtek Volunteer of the Month.”

 

Pirtek Volunteer of the Month Submission Form

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    3 September 2023

     

    The 2023 NZRL National Secondary School Tournament did not disappoint, as some of the best rugby league youth from around the country represented their schools over 3 days. Spectators were treated to some exhilarating football, as NZSST veterans alongside new up-and-comers left it all on the field. New champions were crowned across all 4 grades in this history-making year of the NZRL NZSS Tournament. The best of the best were then selected for the NZSS representative squads to play in October.

     

    NZRL NZSST 2023 Grand Finals recap:

     

    U15s Boys Carnival

    Grand Final – St. Paul’s College v Western Heights High School

    Final score: St. Paul’s College 26-10

    With 2023 being their inaugural year of entering a team in this grade, St. Paul’s College displayed their depth of rugby league talent as their U15 boys impressed all tournament. They opened up the scoring in this final match but Western Heights showed great defensive effort, keeping the score to only 10-4 to St. Paul’s at halftime. In the second half, St. Paul’s proved too strong for the Rotorua side with skilful ball-playing and speed, going on to claim the title of U15s Boys Carnival champions.

     

    Boys Championship

    Grand Final – Aorere College v Wesley College

    Final score: Aorere College 16-12

    This battle of South Auckland came down to the wire, with the scoreboard tied up until the last 5 minutes. Aorere were first to score crossing for 2 tries, but the Wesleyans replied with 2 of their own successfully converted, bringing the halftime score to 12-8 in their favour. In the second half, Aorere did well to score but were again unsuccessful in converting, bringing the game to 12-12. An intense half saw many close but unsuccessful attempts at scoring from both sides until Aorere scored the winning try with only 5 to go.

     

    Girls Championship

    Grand final – Auckland Girls Grammar School v Southern Cross Campus

    Final score: Auckland Girls Grammar School 30-12

    In this grand final between the two Auckland colleges, Southern Cross put up a valiant effort against the dominant Auckland champions, who entered the tournament finals undefeated. AGGS scored early down their left edge but Southern Cross quickly equalised with a try of their own. AGGS went on to score 3 more in the half and Southern Cross scored once more, bringing it to 18-8 at halftime. Although Southern Cross skilfully scored first in the opening minutes of the second half, AGGS hit back with a vengeance going on to score 3 more tries and comfortably win the game and title of NZSST Girls champions.

     

    Boys Premiership 

    Grand Final – St. Paul’s College v St. Thomas of Canterbury College

    Final score: St. Thomas of Canterbury College 12-6

    The final game of the day produced a large turnout of supporters who came down to Bruce Pulman Park to witness this contest for the Boys Premiership title. The young men from Canterbury came firing out of the gates to score first followed quickly by a second. Not to be dominated, St. Paul’s scored one of their own just before the halftime whistle bringing it to 10-6 to the Cantabrians. The second half featured heavy contact, tough carries, and nifty ball-play by both sides however neither were able to score as they both defended their lines fearlessly. A high tackle by St. Paul’s led to a successful St. Thomas penalty kick as the only points scored in the half, with this epic contest ending in a historic win for St. Thomas. The South Island team claimed their first-ever NZSST victory, in their first year of ever making the tournament finals.

     

     

    2023 NZRL National Secondary Schools Boys Squad:

     

    1. Sio Kali – St. Paul’s College

    2. Maretino Kaloudau – St. Thomas of Canterbury College

    3. Chelden Hayward – St. Thomas of Canterbury College

    4. Jackson Stewart – St. Thomas of Canterbury College

    5. Malakai Cama – Rotorua Boys’ High School

    6. Quiann Feterika-Mafoe – St. Paul’s College

    7. Meihana Pauling – St. Thomas of Canterbury College

    8. Malachi Filipo – St. Paul’s College

    9. Noah Harmer-Campbell – St. Thomas of Canterbury College

    10. Jason Salalilo – St. Thomas of Canterbury College

    11. Tepatasi Laumalili – De La Salle College

    12. Mikaele Ilaiu – Rotorua Boys’ High School

    13. Junior Sikuvea – De La Salle College

    14. Sosaia Latu – Otahuhu College

    15. Kalani Peyroux-Donaldson – De La Salle College

    16. Jeriko Filipi-Talisau – St. Paul’s College

    17. Zeke Faga-Ieti – St Thomas of Canterbury College

    18. Ezekiel Paulo – St. Thomas of Canterbury College

    19. Lennox Tuiloma – St. Thomas of Canterbury College

     

    Emerging Player of the Tournament: Phillip Lavakeiaho – Wesley College

    Tournament MVP: Sio Kali – St. Paul’s College

     

     

    2023 NZRL National Secondary Schools Girls Squad:

     

    1. Billie Va’a – St Mary’s College

    2. Shafenior Lui – Southern Cross Campus

    3. Faith Tavita – Auckland Girls Grammar School

    4. Jemma Tonu’u – McAuley High School

    5. Shanthie Lui – Southern Cross Campus

    6. Paea Uilou – Auckland Girls Grammar School

    7. Danii-Nicole Gray – Auckland Girls Grammar School

    8. Seriah Palepale – Auckland Girls Grammar School

    9. Evelyn Roberts – McAuley High School

    10. Indiana Russell-Lia – St Mary’s College

    11. Te Raukura Leafe – St Mary’s College

    12. Riley Fruean-Otineru – McAuley High School

    13. Alianna Tonu’u – McAuley High School

    14. Ivana Lauitiiti – McAuley High School

    15. Josinah Filisi Tauliiili – Southern Cross Campus

    16. Latesha Mitchener – Auckland Girls Grammar School

    17. Luca-Bella Ngatuere-Ongley – St Mary’s College

    18. Tonga Toutai – Southern Cross Campus

    19. Giovanna Suani – Auckland Girls Grammar School

     

    Emerging Player of the Tournament: Shakira Lui – Southern Cross Campus

    Tournament MVP: Seriah Palepale – Auckland Girls Grammar School

     

    For livestreams and results of all NZSST Day 3 games, and all tournament content, visit linktr.ee/nzrlgrassroots

    2 September 2023

    The much anticipated 2023 NZRL National Secondary School Tournament has been full-on as schools from throughout the country gathered at Bruce Pulman Park, for three days of rugby league action. Day 1 saw some thrilling pool games and Day 2 produced intense semi finals across all 4 grades, with finals set to be played tomorrow.

     

    NZSST Day 2 Major Semi Finals recap:

    Boys Premiership

    Semi Final 1 – St. Thomas of Canterbury College v Southern Cross Campus 

    Final score: St. Thomas of Canterbury College 30-6

    The Cantabrians showed dominance in the first half of the game, chalking up 4 unanswered tries to put them in the lead 20-0 at halftime. Southern Cross fought hard to stay in the game with Emosi Ravosai crossing the line to put the team on the board, followed by a successful conversion. Jackson Stewart of St. Thomas finished the game with a hat-trick as the team proved too strong for the Aucklanders, booking their ticket to the finals.

     

    Semi Final 2 – St. Paul’s College v De La Salle College

    Final score: St. Paul’s College 6-0

    In a re-match of the Auckland College Premier Boys finals, the two heavyweight rugby league schools battled for a spot in the NZSST finals. The game was a highly physical match-up with players putting their bodies on the line in an intense back-and-forth, all 40 minutes. Ultimately, a first-half try by John Matini successfully converted by Sio Kali was all the difference to put reigning St. Paul’s College, through to the finals.

     

    Girls Championship

    Semi Final 1 – Auckland Girls Grammar School v Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe

    Final score: Auckland Girls Grammar School 32-0

    Reigning Auckland championships Auckland Girls Grammar School displayed their skill and strength, keeping the Kaikohe side from scoring. Seriah Palepale finished with a hat-trick, as the Aucklanders comfortably secured their place in the Girls Championship grand finals. 

     

    Semi Final 2 – Southern Cross Campus v McAuley High School

    Final score: Southern Cross Campus 26-10

    This game between the two Auckland girl’s schools featured heavy contact and speed to match, tying the score up to 10-all at halftime. An outstanding second half of rugby league was played by Southern Cross, with Shanthie Lui scoring a double and converting 3 tries as her team claimed the victory.

     

    In the Boys Championship grade, Aorere College and Wesley College topped the two pools qualifying them for grade’s grand finals. Also in Pool A, Ngā Kura ā Iwi o Aotearoa Taikura finished with equal total points to Aorere, however, Aorere finished the round robin games with a better points difference. Taikura will instead face Westlake Boys High School in contention for 3rd place.

     

    The U15s Boys Carnival grade will feature St. Paul’s College and Western Heights High School from Rotorua going head-to-head for 1st place. Tamaki College finished with equal total points to the Rotorua side but were beaten by points difference. Tamaki will instead see Manurewa High School in the 3rd place final.

     

    NZRL NZSST Major Finals – Sunday 3rd September

     

    U15s Boys Carnival

    Grand Final – St. Paul’s College v Western Heights High School 10:00 am (Pulman Park Field 1)

    3rd/4th place final – Tamaki College v Manurewa High School 9:00 am (Pulman Park Field 2)

    Boys Championship

    Grand Final – Aorere College v Wesley College 11:15 am (Pulman Park Field 1*)

    3rd/4th place final – Westlake Boys High School v Ngā Kura ā iwi o Aotearoa Taikura 10:15 am (Pulman Park Field 2)

    Girls Championship

    Grand final – Auckland Girls Grammar School v Southern Cross Campus 12:30 pm (Pulman Park Field 1*)

    3rd/4th place final – McAuley High School v Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe 11:30am (Pulman Park Field 2)

    Boys Premiership 

    Grand Final – St. Paul’s College v St. Thomas of Canterbury College 1:45 pm (Pulman Park Field 1*

    3rd/4th place final – De La Salle College v Southern Cross Campus 11:30 am (Pulman Park Field 5)

     

    *live-streamed game on NZ Rugby League youtube.com/playlist

     

    For the entire NZSST finals day draw and to keep up with all the tournament action, visit linktr.ee/nzrlgrassroots

     

     

    25th August 2023

     

    The NZRL men’s and women’s National Premierships and Championships are set for another huge year, with all the action kicking off in the first weekend of September. The competitions will see the return of regular rivalries, newly-promoted teams, and new venues.

     

    National Men’s and Sky Sport Women’s Premierships

    Every weekend from Saturday 2nd September – Sunday 1st October 

     

    The National Men’s Premiership is scheduled to take place over five consecutive weekends, while the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership will span across six weekends, with various host venues located throughout the country.

     

    The upcoming season will see the Akarana Falcons, reigning champions in both the men’s and women’s divisions, defending their titles against familiar opponents as well as new entrants into the competition. These include the Auckland Vulcans in both the men’s and women’s divisions, the Otago Whalers in the men’s division, and the Wellington Orcas in the women’s division.

     

    Otago has been promoted to the 2023 National Premiership and will play their two home games at the prestigious Forsyth Barr Stadium. The Vulcans and Wellington Orcas women’s teams also aim to make a strong impact in the Premiership.

     

    National Men’s and Women’s Championship

    Every weekend from Saturday 2 – Saturday 7th October 

     

    The 2023 National Championship will be held over six weekends at different venues across New Zealand. With the promotion of last year’s finalists in both men’s and women’s categories, the remaining teams will battle it out to crown new champions and secure a place in the Premiership.

     

    This year’s competition will have two pools in the North Island and one in the South Island to determine the champions for both men and women. The finals will take place on Saturday, October 7th, when the North Island and South Island champions will compete to be crowned the winners of the 2023 National Championship.

     

    Refer to Sporty for full schedule and Kick-off times

     

    Catch all National Men’s and Women’s Premiership games broadcasted live on Sky Sport!

     

    NZRL will release broadcast and streaming information for the National Men’s and Women’s Championship games; keep an eye out for more details over the coming weeks to ensure you don’t miss out.

    August 9th 2023 

     

    Preparations for New Zealand’s most significant grassroots events are now well underway, with a jam-packed calendar throughout September and October that is not to be missed. The next generation of rangatahi will look to make their mark in the rugby league world.

     

    National Secondary Schools Tournament

    Friday 1 – Sunday 3rd September

    Bruce Pulman Park, Auckland 

     

    First up on the calendar, is the highly anticipated New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) National Secondary Schools tournament. 2022 saw this significant event in the rugby league calendar return after a three-year hiatus, with two new grades – the U15 Boys Carnival and the inaugural Girls Championship.

    As schools from across the motu converge on Auckland’s Bruce Pulman Park, 2023 brings a fresh look for several tournament regulars. Teams have anticipated the tournament’s return and will be excited to test themselves against the best rugby league talent nationwide.

    41 teams across all grades have been invited to attend this year’s tournament, which will span over three days, kicking off on Friday, 1st September, at Bruce Pulman Park. Schools have quailed through zonal and regional events or nomination.

     

    National Men’s and Sky Sport Women’s Premiership

    Every weekend from Saturday 2nd September – Sunday 1st October 

     

    Also kicking off in the first weekend of September, the National Men’s and Sky Sport Women’s Premiership competitions, playing over five weekends, across various host venues nationwide.

    The Akarana men’s and women’s teams will look to defend their 2022 titles with the exciting introduction of both the Auckland Vulcans men and women, Otago Whalers men and Wellington Orcas women teams being promoted into the premiership for 2023.

    The National Premiership sees the inclusion of the Auckland Vulcans for the first time in both the men’s and women’s competitions. Both teams won their respective National Championship tournaments in 2022, gaining long-sought-after promotion.

    With the new promotion in the premiership, Otago has secured a world-class facility in Forsyth Barr Stadium to play their two home games, whilst the Wellington Orcas women’s team looks to make their mark in the women’s premiership after lifting their game in 2022.

     

    National Men’s and Women’s Championship

    Every weekend from Saturday 2 – Saturday 7th October 

     

    The National Men’s and Women’s Championship kicks off with Southland taking on Aoraki at Elles Road in Invercargill on Saturday, 2nd September, in the South Island Men’s Championship. The Championship matches will be played nationwide in a new format over six weekends. The Men’s and Women’s Championships will conclude on Saturday, 7th October, with the North and South Island Champions meeting to be crowned the National Championship winners and for their chance to gain promotion to the Premiership for 2024.

    With last year’s tournament champions in both men’s and women’s grades now promoted to the Premiership, the remaining teams will battle it out to find new victors.

     

    National Girls Youth Tournament

    Sunday 24 – Tuesday 26th September

    Owen Delaney Park, Taupo

     

    Returning to Taupo, the National Girls Youth Tournament will see talented rugby league wāhine from throughout the country competing for their District and Zones over three days. The inaugural Girls Youth Tournament in 2022 had a spectacle ending with two narrow finals in both the 16s and 18s grades.

    This tournament continues to enhance NZ’s female game, with Alexis Tauaneai completing her journey from the inaugural 2022 National Youth Tournament to becoming a part of the St. George Illawarra Dragons NRLW team. Additionally, Taleenza Nelson has secured a Development contract with the Cronulla Sharks. The 2023 tournament will undoubtedly feature wāhine looking to complete the same journey.

     

    National Boys Youth Tournament

    Wednesday 27 – Friday 29th September

    Puketawhero Park, Rotorua

     

    Closing off grassroots footy for September is the National Boys Youth Tournament, returning to Rotorua’s Puketawhero Park to be held over three days. This tournament will see the best young tama toa compete across the 16s and 18s grades from both Zone and Districts, including; Northland, Auckland, Akarana, Counties, Waikato, Hauraki, Bay of Plenty, Coastline, Mid Central, Wellington and South Island.

     

    NZ 16s & 18s

    Monday 23rd October

    Bruce Pulman Park, Auckland

     

    Rounding off the grassroots football calendar for the year are the NZ 16s and NZ 18s representative games, all to be played on Monday, 23rd October (Labour Day). These games will all be played at Auckland’s Bruce Pulman Park and consist of the best young talent across the motu. Many young players are selected for these New Zealand representative teams from the NZRL National Secondary Schools and Youth Tournaments.

     

    NZ 16s 

    Aotearoa Whaanui v Auckland Invitational (Girls)

    Aotearoa Whaanui v Auckland Invitational (Boys)

     

    The 16s age group will feature the Auckland Invitational versus the Aotearoa Whaanui for both boys and girls. The 16s Auckland teams will consist of players from the ARL competition, Region of Origin development programme, and representative teams that include; Akarana, Counties-Manukau, and Auckland. The Aotearoa Whaanui’ Rest of New Zealand’ squads will be selected from Zonal teams that consist of Northland, Upper Central, Mid Central, Wellington, and South Island.

     

    NZ 18s

    New Zealand Schools v New Zealand Clubs (Girls)

    New Zealand Schools v New Zealand Clubs (Boys)

     

    For their 18s counterparts, the ‘Clubs vs Schools’ match-up returns, including a girl’s match after the highly successful inaugural game in 2022. NZRL General Manager of Football and High-Performance Motu Tony added;

    “A plethora of young talent have found homes in NRL and NRLW clubs from the previous contests, showing a genuine pathway rangatahi can take towards the professional game.

    We look forward to seeing more develop and take their game to the next level.”

     

    NZRL will release broadcast and streaming information for all the upcoming rugby league action in due course; keep an eye out for more details over the coming weeks to ensure you don’t miss out.

     

    08 August 2023

     

    Our rugby league community gets a chance to see their hard mahi recognised across the motu through the Pirtek Volunteer of the Month award.

     

    This award is gifted to a volunteer who displays the core values of NZRL’s Kiwi Way: being family first, innovative, inclusive, respectful, respectful, and humble. NZRL is excited to announce that couple Dylan and Ruscelle Rintoul are the winners of the 2023 Volunteer of the Month for July.

     

    Pirtek CEO Chris Bourke says, “It is refreshing to hear about an amazing husband and wife team that work tirelessly for their club and the game of Rugby League. ”

     

    Dylan and Ruscelle are proud members of the Ngaruawahia Panthers Rugby League Club and community, with Dylan taking on the role of club chairman this year, supported by his wife.

     

    The Panthers have been proudly established as a club for over 110 years, but due to COVID-19, the number of junior players and teams at the club took a hit. Since Dylan was appointed chairman, the club has welcomed over 100 new junior players due to hours of hard mahi by Dylan and Ruscelle.

     

    From sourcing sponsors to travelling to Auckland to purchase gear and equipment for the club and organising discos for the children, the couple has made all the difference in the revival of the Panthers club and community.

     

    The couple also coach and manage the Panthers U7 team, which they have nurtured through the grades for the last three years, with Ruscelle also managing three additional teams. Somehow Dylan also finds the time to fulfil his role as co-chair of the Waikato Junior Rugby League.

     

    Pirtek CEO Chris Bourke says, “Volunteering for Rugby League is what this award is about. Dylan and Ruscelle put in the effort and give up considerable time and resources to support the club. The increased number of kids registered at the club is an amazing result.”

     

    “Dylan and Ruscelle Rintoul are worthy winners of Pirtek Volunteer of the Month. Congratulations, Dylan and Ruscelle.”

     

    Pirtek Volunteer of the Month Submission Form

    Who is your Pirtek Volunteer of the Month?
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      July 12, 2023

      Canterbury Rugby League’s newly established partnership with Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs is set to provide players and coaches from the region with unprecedented development opportunities and pathways to progress to Australia’s elite age-group and senior men’s and women’s competitions.

      Rubberstamped in recent weeks, the agreement between the two organisations promises to be an invaluable and mutually beneficial initiative.

      CRL’s ongoing responsibility to player and coach development, combined with the Bulldogs’ commitment to provide support for local coaches – which in turn helps players’ ability to improve – and training camp opportunities for promising players, will potentially lead to positions with the Sydney-based club.

      “This is a substantial development for Canterbury Rugby League,” CRL CEO Malcolm Humm says.

      “As part of our 2023-26 Strategic Plan, a key goal is that ‘pathway opportunities are fostered through strategic partnerships’. We believe this agreement with Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs is going to have a significant impact on the development of players and coaches in Canterbury, as well as the wider South Island region.

      “To have access to the knowledge and experience of such a quality and successful club such as the Bulldogs is both exciting and one hell of a privilege.”

      Ultimately, Canterbury Rugby League’s aim is to support players that have been identified by Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs to transition to an Australian competition, whether it be their Harold Matthews Cup (under-17s), SG Ball Cup (under-19s), Jersey Flegg (under-21s) and Tarsha Gale Cup (women’s under-18s) teams, or their Harvey Norman Women’s, NSW Cup, NRL and future NRLW premiership squads.

      As well as winning eight premierships since joining the competition in 1935, Canterbury-Bankstown has an impressive reputation as a development club. The Bulldogs have won six NSW Cup titles since 1998 and were grand finalists in 2022, boast a record nine Jersey Flegg Cup titles, won the 2023 Harold Matthews Cup, reached the 2023 Tarsha Gale Cup and Harvey Norman Women’s grand finals and have their sights set on entering an NRLW team for the first time in 2025.

      “Although some of the detail is still to be worked through, we have agreed that Canterbury-based coaches and players will be recipients of coaching clinics led by Bulldogs coaching personnel, whilst both entities want to ensure that identified players and coaches from the Canterbury region have the opportunity to be immersed within the club’s environment in camp scenarios,” Humm explains.

      “There are numerous ways in which we can benefit each other, and we are just excited to get to this point and commence the operational plan.”

      Canterbury Rugby League harbours strong links with the Bulldogs stretching back more than half a century. Linwood, Canterbury and New Zealand Test prop Bill Noonan famously became the first major signing made by legendary Canterbury-Bankstown secretary Peter ‘Bullfrog’ Moore in 1970.

      Noonan was the first Kiwi (along with teammate Henry Tatana) to feature in a NSWRL premiership grand final – Canterbury-Bankstown’s loss to Eastern Suburbs in the 1974 decider – and played 161 games in the blue-and-white jersey before linking with Newtown in 1979.

      Hornby Kiwi Marty Crequer turned out for the Bulldogs in 1991, while elusive winger Jason Williams played in the 1994-95 grand finals – winning a premiership medal in the latter year – during a 73-game tenure with the club. More recently, former Hornby junior Fa’amanu Brown is currently enjoying his second NRL stint with the Bulldogs (he was also part of their NSW Cup-winning side in 2018), Halswell product Montel Lisala has played for their Jersey Flegg and Ron Massey Cup sides in 2023, and Northern’s Bronson Reuben and Hornby’s Sosaia Alatini starred in the Bulldogs’ recent Harold Matthews Cup title success in a team that was coached by former Halswell stalwart Shannon Rushworth.

      “The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs has long been known as a development club,” said Bulldogs General Manager of Pathways, Adam Hartigan.

      “We are committed to investing time into coach and player development through our growing satellite Academy programs – and partnerships such as this new venture with Canterbury Rugby League can only further benefit the game. We are extremely proud to be able to offer our support to the region.

      “CRL has a strong track record of development and by partnering together, we feel we can provide even more young talent with the skills and resources they need to unlock their potential, and flourish both on and off the field.”

      Linwood’s Chelden Hayward, a member of the Canterbury 18s team that competed in the recent South Island Boys Youth Tournament, is already benefiting from the Bulldogs’ pathways program while being able to remain in the region.

      “Importantly, kids can be afforded the opportunity to develop their talent without needing to be relocated at an early age, and away from their home, schooling life and families,” Hartigan explains.

      “Rather, this partnership will support coach development so that Canterbury junior league players can access premier coaching and programs at home, whilst still being afforded a clear and visible pathway to the NRL or NRLW.

      “Chelden Hayward is a great example of how this pathway model works. With the upskilling of CRL coaches Chelden can stay at home, complete his schooling, and mature before the need to move Australia.”

       

      30 June 2023

       

      The prestigious Pirtek Volunteer of the Month award returns this month, where our rugby league community gets a chance to see their hard mahi recognised across the motu.

      The winner chosen for this award displays the core values of NZRL’s Kiwi Way: being family first, innovative, inclusive, respectful, respectful and humble. NZRL is excited to announce that Scott Tulua is the 2023 Volunteer of the Month winner for June.

      People like Scott from the Papatoetoe Panthers are hard to find. He dedicates his time and effort to coaching the club’s U18 boys’ side and assisting with the Otahuhu Leopards Premier Women’s team. Somehow Scott also finds the time to help with the Tangaroa College U14 rugby team; those involved with these teams undoubtedly appreciate all that Scott does.

      From supplying team gear and equipment to washing uniforms and providing transport for young players, Scott selflessly serves however possible to ensure tamariki and rangatahi can enjoy playing Rugby League without obstacles.

      Outside of Rugby League, Scott is also a dedicated community member, committing his spare time to helping others by repairing bikes.

      Pirtek CEO says, “Having a person willing to dedicate so much of their time on a volunteer basis to the great game of Rugby League is rare.

      “Scott is a very deserving Pirtek Volunteer of the Month.

      “Thank you, Scott, for what you do for Rugby League.”

       

      Pirtek Volunteer of the Month Submission Form

      Who is your Pirtek Volunteer of the Month?
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        June 15 2023

        As seen on canterburyrugbyleague.co.nz

        Canterbury’s and South Island’s most promising youth players will get a rare opportunity to test themselves against top-quality Australian opposition next month, courtesy of a short tour by Canberra Raiders’ under-18s team.

        The Raiders’ squad – essentially the best talent coming through the club’s academy, including fringe SG Ball (under-19s) players from this year’s campaign and the players who will make up next season’s SG Ball line-up – will play two matches in four days in Christchurch.

        First up, the Raiders will face the Canterbury 19s team on Thursday, July 13, followed by a clash with South Island Scorpions 18s on Sunday, July 16.

        “There will be some very talented players in the Canberra team – many I’m sure who will go and eventually play in the NRL – so it’s very exciting,” Southern Zone Rugby League General Manager Liam Turner says.

        “Dean Souter, who runs the Junior Raiders High Performance Program, got in touch to see if we were interested in organising a game and it went from there.”

        The Scorpions 18s squad will be selected from the South Island youth tournament, which is being held the previous weekend in Oamaru.

        “It’s a short turnaround and puts a bit of pressure on us, but it’s too good an opportunity to turn down and we’re excited by it,” Turner explains.

        “It provides a great pathway for any 18s boys playing in our tournament to be selected in this team and is another great example that the pathway to the NRL is right at the doorstep of South Island-based players.”

        Having any junior team affiliated with an NRL club playing matches in Canterbury is an obvious coup, but Canberra has a massive reputation as a breeding ground of elite rugby league talent.

        All-time greats such as Bradley Clyde, Glenn Lazarus and Ricky Stuart came through the ACT junior system during the 1980s, while fellow icon Laurie Daley was developed by the Raiders after arriving from nearby Junee as a 17-year-old. The local products helped form the nucleus of the famed ‘Green Machine’ that won premierships in 1989-90 and ’94.

        More recent NRL stars such as Jarrod Croker, Josh Dugan, Josh Papalii, Anthony Milford, Jack Wighton and Hudson Young debuted for the Raiders after emerging through the club’s junior pathways and NYC (under-20s) team. Canberra’s SG Ball team was one game away from the SG Ball grand final in the 2023 competition, which wrapped up in April.

        Meanwhile, these upcoming fixtures in Christchurch provide another key chance for players to impress and potentially follow in the footsteps of the increasing number of South Island juniors who are progressing to the elite level.

        “There’s so many players who have gone through our system and our pathways that have gone on to a higher level – right at the top in the NRL with the likes of Jordan Riki and Griffin Neame, but also recent examples like Callum Donaldson from the West Coast going from the Scorpions earlier this year to a Melbourne Storm feeder club,” Turner enthuses.

        “It highlights that even though we are seemingly a bit isolated down here, the opportunities for our boys and girls at the moment are right there for them and it’s really exciting.

        “The Warriors have an under-17s (Harrold Matthews Cup) and under-21s (Jersey Flegg) entering the NSW competitions in 2024, to go with their recently reintroduced under-19s (SG Ball) team, so that’s also a big opportunity for our youth.”

        Team line-ups in the 2023 Harold Matthews, SG Ball and Jersey Flegg competitions this season have peppered with tyros who have come directly from Halswell Hornets, Hornby Panthers, Linwood Keas and Northern Bulldogs, as well as Scorpions age-group teams.

        Turner praises the dedication and hard work of coaches, volunteers and administrators – such as Canterbury’s and Eastern Eagles’ Archie Jacobs – for helping create the progressively clear pathway from junior club football, to South Island representative teams and eventually into the systems of NRL clubs.

        “Southern Zone may have limited resources compared to other regions, but it’s definitely a big focus for us.

        “People like Archie Jacobs, who has been a big part of the Scorpions system – nearly all of those players who have gone on to Australian clubs or the Warriors have been coached by him – so a lot of credit to him, along with many others.

        “It’s a small wee team that works hard to make sure these players get these opportunities.”

        With the only three weeks until the South Island youth tournament, Turner is encouraging players to put themselves in the frame for Scorpions selection in Oamaru.

        Canterbury’s youth teams for the trip south will be named later this week, but other teams are still looking to fill out their squads.

        “Our smaller districts looking for extra numbers, hopefully that’s a push for some of those players to put their hand up – come and play in this tournament and give yourself a chance to have a crack at the Raiders,” Turner says.

        30 May 2023

         

        2023 sees the return of the prestigious Pirtek Volunteer of the Month award, where our rugby league community gets a chance to see their hard mahi recognised across the motu.

        This award is gifted to a volunteer who displays the core values of NZRL’s Kiwi Way: being family first, innovative, inclusive, respectful, respectful and humble. NZRL is excited to announce that Phylis Latu is the first winner of the 2023 Volunteer of the Month.

        Phylis Latu is a proud member of the Manurewa Marlins rugby league club and community. Latu currently acts as the Marlin’s club secretary, sourcing funding and resources that benefit the club.

        In addition to working for the Manurewa Marlins, Latu provides wrap-around support and delivers food and medical support for whānau affected by Covid-19.

        She leads a group of local rangatahi who she’s helped develop and upskill to enable them to give back to their communities across Manurewa. Latu has used rugby league as a vehicle to support and transform lives.

        Pirtek GM of Sales & Operations says, “Congratulations Phylis Latu on being Pirtek’s Volunteer of the Month.”

        “At Pirtek, we love hearing inspiring stories about great people in the League whānau. It was clear that Phylis puts in the mahi daily, supporting her club in every way.

        “People like Phylis make our community clubs as great as they are. Manurewa is lucky to have her care, aroha and support.

        “Congratulations to a very worthy and well-deserving winner.”

         

        Each PVOTM winner receives $200 worth of vouchers.

        Nominations are now open for June; to enter fill out the form below.

        #TheKiwiWay #MoreThanAGame

         

        Pirtek Volunteer of the Month Submission Form

        Who is your Pirtek Volunteer of the Month?
        • Drop files here or
          Max. file size: 128 MB.

          As seen on odt.co.nz

           

          By Kayla Hodge

          Two former Kiwis will impart their wisdom to the next generation of Otago rugby league players this weekend.

          Jeff Lima and Shontayne Hape, and Otago Rugby League coaches, are hosting a development day at Logan Park on Sunday.

          Lima played 127 NRL games, 97 Super League games and seven tests for the Kiwis, while Hape played 28 games for the Warriors and made 125 Super League appearances and 14 tests for the Kiwis, before switching to rugby union, where he played internationally for England.

          The development day morning is designed for primary and intermediate aged players, while the afternoon is designed for players from the grades under-14 to under-18.

          Southern zone club capability and event manager Louis Carmine said players would run through various skills, drills, games and wellbeing sessions.

          Hape, who now works for New Zealand Rugby League, and Lima would also discuss NRL pathways for young athletes.

          Carmine said the development day, similar to one held in Invercargill recently, was a good opportunity for young athletes to learn from the best.

          “It’s cool to see sort of those pathways and realise that even for here in Otago there’s definitely still those opportunities for them,” Carmine said.

          Players can register on the Otago Rugby League website.

          18 May 2023

           

          In game one of the Harvey Norman Women’s Championship, Ahi kā Aotearoa suffered their first defeat to the First Nation Gems 14-8.

          The game started with a cultural salute as the First Nation Gems welcomed Ahi Kā onto the field with an indigenous welcome for their inaugural year.

          The game started in a classic arm wrestle match as both teams battled in the first half for possession and territory of the field. The First Nation Gems capitalised off their first opportunity as they forced an error in Ahi Kā’s half, using this to get the first try of the game.

          First Nation Gems quickly followed up with another try as they utilised the quick ruck speed they generated to catch the Ahi Kā Aotearoa team off guard to go right through the middle.

          Ahi Kā found their groove as they strung together solid runs to gain excellent field position right before halftime. A lovely cut-out ball to Marewa Samson, who delivered some beautiful quick hands to put Kyla Lynch-Brown in for a try, leaving the halftime score 10-4.

          Ahi Kā started the second half off firing as they managed to regather the kick restart. Great scrambling defence from the First Nation Gems robbed the NZ side of a try to even the score. Quick play of the balls and fast ruck speed would be the catalyst for the next First Nation Gems try, as the score would be 18-4 with five minutes to go.

          Vice-captain Monica Samita would scoot out at dummy half to crash over the line to give Ahi Kā a fighting chance in the game with three minutes to go. With the one minute left and NZ desperately trying to create opportunities, a shift on the final tackle put Marewa Samson in space, who would offload to Kyla Lynch-Brown, who managed to run 30 metres before she got run down by some great scrambling defence from the First Nation Gems to close the game out 14-8.

          18 May 2023

           

          The Harvey Norman Women’s Championship in the Gold Coast kicks off today as Ahi Kā Aoteroa takes on the First Nation Gems at Pizzey Park at 2.30 pm (NZT).

          Coach Frank Fuimaono has named a strong team to kick-start the competition announcing 2022 NZ Clubs representative Summer Van Gelder as captain for the 2023 campaign.

          Along with the Ahi Kā Aotearoa squad, several NZ girls are also competing today, as Alexis Tauaenai and Tatiana Finau, who were both a part of the 2022 NZ Clubs team, are playing for the NSW City squad. Keep an eye out for them throughout this week’s tournament.

           

          Today’s game is streamed live on NRL.com

           

          Ahi Kā Aotearoa vs First Nation Gems

           

          Pizzey Park, Gold Coast

          2.30 pm  

           

          1 Summer VAN GELDER (c)
          2 Kyla LYNCH-BROWN
          3 Manea WAAKA
          4 Amarnee SHEPHERD
          5 Marewa SAMSON
          6 Ronise MATINI
          7 Tamara RUAPORO
          8 Genesis SMITH-HURIWAI
          9 Monica SAMITA (vc)
          10 Nina FAAMAUSILI
          11 Ilaisaane TAUFA
          12 Monika FAKAOSILEA
          13 Sade SCHAUMKEL
          14 Sina TUITUPOU
          15 Tanaia-Aroha MERTIN-HERNIMAN
          16 Charlie-Kaige KAMUTEMU
          17 Destinee MEXTED
          18 Maia CRUTCHER
          19 Ana ALLEN
          20 Henilietta LOKOTUI

           

          11 May 2023

           

          New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce that the following players have been selected to represent the inaugural Ahi Kā Aotearoa in the Harvey Norman Women’s Championship in the Gold Coast from 18 May – 21 May.

          The Ahi Kā Aotearoa squad comprises players selected from last year’s inaugural National Girls’ Youth Tournament, who participated in the ‘RISE’ Talent Development Programme delivered in partnership with the NRL earlier in the year.

          An experienced management team accompanies the players to the Gold Coast, with former Kiwi Fern players Ake Pereira and Kath Keremete on board as an Assistant Coach and Trainer. Head Trainer Shannon Maclachlan was involved in the most recent Kiwi Ferns’ World Cup campaign, and team manager Mel Tukapua has previously managed NZ16s and NZ18s teams.

           

          NZRL congratulates the following players:

           

          Amarnee SHEPHERD Waikato
          Ana ALLEN Northland
          Charlie-Kaige KAMUHEMU Auckland
          Destinee MEXTED Northland
          Genesis SMITH-HURIWAI Bay of Plenty
          Henilietta LOKOTUI Auckland
          Ilaisaane TAUFA Auckland
          Kyla LYNCH-BROWN Canterbury
          Maia CRUTCHER Northland
          Manea WAAKA Canterbury
          Marewa SAMSON Waikato
          Monica SAMITI Auckland
          Monika FAKAOSILEA Auckland
          Nina FAAMAUSILI Auckland
          Ronise MATINI Auckland
          Sade SCHAUMKEL Auckland
          Sina TUITUPOU Auckland
          Summer VAN GELDER Auckland
          Tamara RUAPORO NGATUAKANA Wellington
          Tanaia-Aroha MERTIN-HERNIMAN Northland
          Head Coach Frank FUIMAONO Auckland
          Assistant Coach Ake PEREIRA Wellington
          Manager Mel TUKAPUA Canterbury
          Head Trainer Shannon MACLACHLAN
          Assistant Trainer Kath KEREMETE Northland
          Physio Melissa FALANI

           

          Ahi Kā Aotearoa schedule

           

          Ahi Kā Aotearoa vs First Nation’s Gems – 2.30pm NZT

          Ahi Kā Aotearoa vs Qld Ruby’s – 1.30pm NZT

          Ahi Kā Aotearoa vs NSW Country Women – 2.30pm NZT

           

          Follow NZRL’s social channels to keep up with their journey throughout the competition.

          May 10, 2023

           

          New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) proudly announces that the anticipated National Secondary Schools tournament is back for 2023.

          2022 saw one of the most significant events in the rugby league calendar return after a three-year hiatus, this time with two new grades – the U15 Boys Carnival and the inaugural Girls’ Championship.

          Last year’s tournaments were hotly contested as newcomers De La Salle took home the Premiership title for the first time in history. Manurewa High School enjoyed success as their boys’ and girls’ teams took out both the Boys’ Championship and the inaugural Girls Championship.

          This year’s competition will spread over three days, kicking off on Friday, 1st September, at Auckland’s Bruce Pulman Park. Schools can qualify through zonal and regional events. Each team entering the National Secondary Schools Tournament must have a referral from their respective zone contact.

          If you would like to receive more information, Register interest here: https://www.sporty.co.nz/viewform/198093

           

          National Secondary Schools Tournament. Grades to include:

           

          Junior / U15 Boys Carnival

          –      Up to 8 teams

          –      Composite schools permitted.

           

          Senior Boys Premiership

          –      Up to 8 teams

           

          Senior Boys Championship

          –      Up to 8 teams

          –      Composite schools permitted.

           

          Girls Championship

          –      Up to 16 teams

          –      Composite schools permitted.

          27 April 2023

          New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) is proud to announce that its inaugural Ahi kā Aotearoa under-19s girls team will compete in the Australian Harvey Norman Women’s National Championship in May.

          NZRL will select 20 players to represent Ahi kā Aotearoa off the back of the successful ‘RISE’ Talent Development Programme delivered in partnership with the NRL earlier in the year. The RISE programme better prepares young players for the rigours of high-performance environments such as the NRLW, targeting female players aged 17-19.

          The formation of Ahi kā Aotearoa follows a successful year of female participation in the rangatahi age group here in NZ, which saw the introduction of the first National 16 & 18 Girls 9s Tournament, National Secondary Schools Girls Tournament, National Youth Tournament and the first National Representative fixtures for 16s & 18s Girls age groups.

          The Harvey Norman Women’s National Championship is an elite pathways tournament allowing players across Australia and now New Zealand to showcase their skills in the representative arena.

          The tournament consists of 12 teams split into three pools across a four-day draw held in Pizzey Park, Burleigh, from May 18. Ahi kā Aotearoa will be one of three teams alongside NSW and Queensland that feature under-19s talent only, with the remaining nine sides set to be a mix of 19s and open players.

          GM of High-Performance and Football at NZRL Motu Tony says, “This is a really exciting opportunity for our young NZ wāhine to showcase their skills across the Tasman, which will hopefully lead to the NRLW and the Kiwi Ferns.

          “Thank you to the NRL for extending this invitation, this is an important aspect in the development of female rugby league in New Zealand. I look forward to seeing our game (female) maintain its tremendous growth.”

          A tournament draw and squad lists will be released in early May. Entry to the event is free across all four days.

          April 10 2023

          It was a dominant showing by Auckland in the 18s finals today as the 09 took home both Championship trophies in the Boys’ and Girls’ divisions.

          It was a battle between North and South in the 18s Boys’ final, where Auckland faced up against long-time rivals Canterbury.

          Canterbury dropped the ball straight from the kick-off, foreshadowing what would come in the boys’ final.

          Auckland were clinical capitalising off the Canterbury error to score back-to-back tries but the 09’s discipline wavered, allowing Canterbury to mount their first points.

          Auckland came out firing in the second half rolling 60 metres downfield to score their third try. Canterbury’s errors within their half continued to cost them as Auckland gained attacking momentum setting up their fourth four-pointer.

          Auckland’s kick chase placed Canterbury’s fullback under pressure as the 09 would scoop up the loose ball to score, claiming the 18s Boys’ Championship with a 24-4 victory.

          The Girls’ final shortly followed, and  Auckland Red were switched on from the whistle; an effective kick-off forced an error, setting Red up for their first try of the final.

          Some physical defensive sets by both sides kept the scoring at bay until late in the first half.

          A line break and excellent support play by Auckland White earned them a try, equalising the score to 4-4 at halftime.

          The second half saw Auckland Red come back firing, dominating possession and gameplay to score four unanswered tries.

          Auckland Red claimed victory with a final score of 20-4 over Auckland White, making them the 2023 U18 9s National Champions.

          10 April 2023

          The third and final day of the NZRL National 9s Tournament kicked off with the 18s boys’ semi-final clash between the North and South.

          Canterbury was first to put points on the board with a left edge overlap putting Ezekiel Petelo-Paulo over for their first four-pointer.

          Costly Northland errors gifted Canterbury more attacking possession as the Cantabrians quickly answered back with another try and an eight-point leading heading into the break.

          It was all the Southerners as they struck again seconds into the half off the back of another Northland error extending their lead.

          Canterbury dotted down three consecutive tries with momentum on their side, but a late consolation try to Northland wasn’t enough as Canterbury advanced to the final with a 26-4 victory.

          Auckland faced the Capital in the second boy’s semi-final shortly after.

          With accurate kicking and excellent pace, a strong start by the Auckland side saw them head to the sheds with a 10-0 lead at halftime. Wellington fought hard to come back in the second half with two well-earned tries and a conversion, narrowly putting them ahead 12-10.

          In a last-minute upset, Auckland utilised their swift right edge again to score and secure their place in the final with a 14-12 victory.

          Auckland will face Canterbury in the 18s Boys final live at 1:30pm.

          Top of the table Auckland White were first to mount points against Waikato in the first girls’ 18s semi-final.

          A line break from Auckland saw centre Gillian Fa’aumu run 100m downfield to score Auckland’s second try moments after.

          Waikato answered back with a lovely overlap on their right edge, scoring their first points of the day, and bringing the halftime deficit back to within one try.

          Waikato put themselves back into good attacking position after barging runs from their middle forwards, but a costly error saw a try go begging. Auckland bounced back, going over their third shortly after shifting momentum back in their favour.

          Waikato’s effort never wavered, getting themselves another four-pointer right before the final whistle; however it wasn’t to be as Auckland White head to the final with a 12-8 victory.

          The second girls’ semi-final clash was a battle of the ’09 as Auckland Red and Blue faced off.

          The match showcased great physicality and ball play between the two girls’ teams. However, it was Auckland Red that came out firing, scoring three unanswered tries within the first half. Following the break, Auckland Blue did well to score but were dominated by the Red side, who took the win 18-4, booking them a spot in the girls’ grand final.

          Auckland will face off against one another in the National 18s Girl’s final at 2:00pm today.

           

          Boys 18s FINAL Canterbury v Auckland 1:30pm

          Girls 18s FINAL Auckland Red v Auckland White 2:00pm

           

           

          09 April 2023

          The NZRL National District 9s continued at Bruce Pulman Park today, with the U18s grade kicking off their tournament weekend.

          Otago v Waikato
          After a close first half, the Waikato side pulled away in the second half, coming out on top 20-4.

          Northland v Auckland
          A dominant Auckland red side showed their strength, keeping Northland off the board to take the win 16-0.

          Canterbury v Waikato
          The Cantabrians opened the scoring, but Waikato matched them for every point. Both teams came to a draw 14-14.

          Manawatu v Auckland
          A close game going try-for-try, with Auckland narrowly taking the win 10-8 over the Manawatu side.

          Otago v Auckland
          Both sides were evenly matched and kept each other from crossing the try line, leaving the score at 0-0 full-time.

          Auckland v Auckland
          A very physical match-up between the two Auckland sides. Auckland White was tenacious to win 20-6 over Auckland Blue.

          Wellington v Canterbury
          An intense game between two strong teams, with the Wellingtonians coming out on top 8-0 at full-time.

          Northland v Wellington
          The Northlanders did well to get ahead by halftime, with Wellington only a try behind. The momentum shifted in favour of Wellington, with their strong left edge sealing an 18-12 win.

          Hauraki v Otago
          Some early errors from Hauraki put Otago just ahead by a try at halftime. The Hauraki team did well to come back and stay in the contest, drawing the game up at 12-12 full-time.

          Manawatu v Waikato
          The Waikato boys played a dominant 18 minutes, claiming a 26-8 victory over Manawatu.

          Canterbury v Auckland
          Canterbury 18s Boys had a strong performance against the Auckland Rugby League 18s. Canterbury completely outplayed the Auckland side, beating them easily 24 – 4.

          Auckland Blue v Wellington
          The two sides constantly battled for 18 minutes, with Auckland just winning by a conversion. Final score 6-4 to Auckland Blue.

          Auckland White v Canterbury
          A strong Auckland White team dispatched the Canterbury 18s girls with a dominant performance against the South Island team. Auckland White took the win 24 – 4.

          Northland v Waikato
          The two teams battled try-for-try, with the Waikato girls eventually emerging as the victors, 16-10.

          Hauraki v Wellington
          A strong Wellington side controlled possession and the game, finishing victorious with 22 points to Hauraki’s 4.

          Northland v Otago
          The Northland 18s boys came into their next match searching for their first win in the tournament against the Otago 18s boys. Tries came quickly and fast for both teams, but Northland ultimately ran away with the match 22 – 4.

          Waikato v Auckland Red
          Waikato 18s girls and Auckland Red girls came into the third round needing a win. The match-up was close, with nothing between either of the teams 6 – 6 at halftime. In the second half, Auckland Red kicked into high gear and ran away with the match 20 – 6.

          Otago v Northland
          Northland displayed their skill and speed to dominate this game, scoring 26 points for a 26-6 full-time score over Otago.

          Canterbury v Manawatu
          Canterbury 18s Boys came into their last match of the day against Manawatu 18s with confidence after winning their first two matches. The first half of the match was close, with Canterbury leading into halftime 12 – 4. Canterbury battled and kept their lead through the second half to take the win 16 – 8.

          Auckland v Waikato
          The Auckland side played a physical game to produce a 20-4 win over Waikato, who did well to get points on the board.

          Auckland White v Wellington
          The Auckland White 18s took on the Wellington 18s in a close matchup. Ultimately, the Auckland side took the win 10 – 8.

          Canterbury v Auckland Blue
          There was nothing between Canterbury and Auckland Blue. After 18 minutes, the match ended with a draw 8-8.

          Northern Swords v Hauraki
          After a close first half, the Northern Swords extended their lead over Hauraki to win 20 – 10.

          Otago v Wellington
          Wellington had by far the most dominant performance of the day, taking the game with ease 0 – 38.

           

          GIRLS 18s standings

          POOL A

          Auckland Red
          WRFL: Waikato
          RLN: Northland
          Otago Rugby League: Otago

          POOL B

          Auckland White
          Auckland Blue
          Wellington Rugby League
          Canterbury Rugby League

           

          BOYS 18s standings

          POOL A

          Wellington Rugby League
          Northern Swords
          Hauraki District RL
          Otago Rugby League

           

           POOL B 

          Canterbury Rugby League
          Auckland Rugby League
          Waikato
          Manawatu Rugby Football League

          9 April 2023

          Wellington played Northland in the Girls’ 16s Final, where the girls from the capital put on a dominant performance.

          Looking to avenge their finals loss last year, Wellington came out firing drawing first blood. Costly errors kept Northland under pressure in the first half as Wellington went into the sheds with a 10-0 lead.

          Wellington continued their momentum into the second half scoring two back-to-back tries. A last-ditch effort from the Northlanders wasn’t enough, as the Wellington Orcas were crowned U16s Girls’ Champions with a 20-6 win over Northland.

          Canterbury took on tournament dark horse Manawatu in the Boys’ 16s final.

          The Southern 9s Champions opened the scoring with a clever dummy half run as Ill-discipline would cost Manawatu.

          Brilliant individual skill gave Canterbury their second; however, Manawatu found their groove as quick play the balls scored them their first points of the game.

          Errors from Canterbury in their own half cost them as Manawatu scooped up a loose ball levelling the score right before half-time.

          The second half was an arm wrestle with both sides tight on defence. However, Canterbury took their chances with a lovely cut-out pass, putting their winger over to gain the lead.

          Manawatu, in a last-ditch effort pulled off a slick draw & pass evening the score at full-time.

          The final quickly turned into a golden point match.

          A costly error in Canterbury’s play the ball gave Manawatu possession 20 metres out from the Southerners’ line.

          Manawatu would use this to snatch the title running over to claim the U16s 9s Championship 18-14.

           

          9 April 2023

           

          The U16s playoffs kicked off day 2 of NZRL National 9s, where Wellington took on Auckland in the first girls’ semi-final.

          It was all Wellington in the first half as the Capital managed to keep Auckland in their own forty, scoring two unanswered tries. The Capital kept their momentum in the second stint running away with a convincing 20-4 win booking them a spot in the girls’ final.

          Canterbury then took on Northland in the second semi, where it was an even match-up between North and South with one try a piece heading into halftime.

          But it was the Northlanders that came out firing in the second stint, scoring two back-to-back tries to book themselves a spot in the U16s girls’ final against Wellington with a 12-10 victory.

          The boys’ playoffs followed shortly after, where Canterbury took on Otago in the first semi-final. The Cantabrians dominated, scoring four unanswered tries to book their spot in the final, 24-0.

          Wellington then took on Manawatu in the second semi. A clever barge through the middle saw Wellington open up the scoring, but Manawatu answered back with four unanswered tries to win 24-6

          Wellington will take on Northland in the Girls’ final at 1:30pm and Canterbury will face Manawatu in the Boys’ final at 2pm. Both games live on Sky Sport 4.

           

           

           

          08 April 2023

          The NZRL National District 9s kicked off at Bruce Pulman Park this Easter Saturday, with the U16s Girls’ grade beginning the tournament weekend.

          Wellington earned their first tournament points with an 18-4 victory over Hawkes Bay. A North v South battle soon followed when Northland took on Otago, where an early kick-off error by Northland saw Otago open up the scoring. Northland promptly responded with three tries in the first half, claiming a 24-12 win over the Southerners.

          The Otago Boys took on Coastline to kick off the U16s Boys’ tournament. A late comeback from Coastline wasn’t enough as the Southerners proved too strong, earning a 22-10 victory.  Manawatu then showed a dominant 24 – 4 display over the Northlanders.

          Girls’ U16s 2022 Champions Auckland took on Canterbury to kickstart their campaign. A close first half ended with Auckland narrowly leading at halftime. Reigning champions Canterbury came back with a show of dominance in the second half, scoring four unanswered tries to win the game 30-10.

          A close encounter between Waikato and Manawatu girls soon followed, where a strong Manawatu right edge scored two early back-to-back tries. Waikato answered back, but a very close second half eventually saw Manawatu come out on top 12 points to 10.

          A rematch of the 2022 Boys’ final saw reigning champions Canterbury take on runners-up Waikato. It was a tight affair, with nothing separating the teams at half-time; however, Canterbury picked up the pace in the second half, running away with it 12-4.

          Wellington boys then took on Auckland boys in a tight encounter. The boys from the Captial had the upper hand keeping the 09 scoreless, 8-0. Wellington girls then kept the winning momentum for the black and yellow, with a dominant 24-4 display over Otago.

          The Northland girls then showed up against Hawkes Bay, winning four tries to one; however, the Northland boys went down to Otago 12-4. The Manawatu men soon followed with an impressive 28-10 performance against Coastline.

          After losing to Canterbury, the Auckland girls redeemed with a two-point victory over Waikato, while Manawatu upset reigning champs Canterbury with a 26-18 win.

          Back to the boys’ grade, the Cantabrians got the win over Auckland three tries to one, while Wellington continued their dominance with a 22-4 victory over Waikato. In a tightly contested game, Wellington snatched victory over Northland girls 18-16, while Hawkes Bay ran away with a win over Otago 20-8.

          Manawatu kept Otago scoreless in the Boy’s Pool with a 14-point victory before Northland ran away with a 34-24 win over Coastline.

          Some great ball play by the Auckland girls saw them beat Manawatu 22-8 before Canterbury pipped Waikato at the post with a four-point victory in the final girls’ match of the day.

          The boys continued Canterbury’s dominance beating Wellington 16-14 in what was a top-of-the-table clash before Auckland claimed a 22 to 8 victory over Waikato in what was the final match of Day 1.

          Canterbury finished at the top of both Boys’ B and Girls’ B pools, with the Southerners stamping their mark on the U16s grade.

          Manawatu had a strong showing in the Boys’ grade finishing top of Pool A, while Wellington took out Girl’s Pool B.

           

          GIRLS 16s standings

          POOL A

          Wellington

          Northland

          Hawkes Bay

          Otago

           

          POOL B

          Canterbury

          Auckland

          Waikato

          Manawatu

           

          BOYS 16s standings

          POOL A

          Manawatu

          Otago

          Northland

          Coastline

           

           POOL B 

          Canterbury

          Wellington

          Auckland

          Waikato

          1 April 2023

           

          The Counties Manukau Stingrays have been crowned the 2023 NZRL National 20s Champions after upsetting South Island 28-16 in a finals match thriller.

          The South Island Scorpions were first to draw blood as Jaedon Wellington opened the scoring account in the first ten minutes of the encounter. Counties Manukau struck back as they were rewarded for their defensive pressure as winger Esau Meleisia would recover a loose ball and dot over the line.

          The first half continued to be an arm-wrestle as both teams would scramble to keep each other away from their own red zones. However Counties Manukau would benefit off South Island’s errors as Malachi Tony would score their second try to make the score 12-6 going into halftime.

          South Island came into the second half firing as they would build pressure completing their set deep into Counties half as the Scorpions centre, Izayah Hesp would collect Caleb Murphy’s grubber kick to even the score. South Island would quickly add to this shifting the ball out wide to set up winger Saki Loma to score in the corner.

          With South Island building momentum it looked as if they would step into a new gear much like their previous encounter. However, Counties Manukau would completely blindside South Island to string together three consecutive tries to complete an upset over the competition favourites and capture the National 20s Ruben Wiki Cup 28-16.

          31 March 2023

          New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce the National U20s Pirtek competition team for 2023, with South Island Scorpions second-rower Te Kaio Cranwell earning National 20s Pirtek Competition MVP.

          A standout in each game for the Scorpions, Cranwell has been instrumental in his side’s journey to the final. A large frame dominant on both sides of the ball, Cranwell has proved to be a handful for any side he has come up against.

          Cranwell a lethal ball-runner, rose to prominence through the competition navigating his way to the try line in every game played. Cranwell’s partnership with Scorpions halfback Caleb Murphy contributed to South Island’s success through the Ruben Wiki Cup. Cranwell led from the front as South Island advanced to the final as the only undefeated team.

          Te Kaio Cranwell is joined by an extremely talented pool of players, including fellow teammates Caleb Murphy, Jameson Wellington and Sakiusa Lamanikava, along with Counties Manukau fullback Robin Herbert and Akarana hooker Khalan Clyde.

           

          Congratulations to the following selected for the 2023 Pirtek Competition team:

           

          1. Robin Herbert (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
          2. Ariki Honetana (Akarana Falcons)
          3. Niu-linghi Peni (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
          4. Deijdre Siaki (South Island Scorpions)
          5. Toaiti Ramsay (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
          6. Felise Tau (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
          7. Caleb Murphy (South Island Scorpions)
          8. Jaedon Wellington (South Island Scorpions)
          9. Khalan Clyde (Akarana Falcons)
          10. Portman Paul (Waikato Mana)
          11. Te Kaio Cranwell (South Island Scorpions)
          12. Sakiusa Lomanikaya (South Island Scorpions)
          13. Daniel Smith (Akarana Falcons)

           

          Ruben Wiki Cup competition MVP: Te Kaio Cranwell (South Island Scorpions)

           

           

          30 March 2023

           

          New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) is proud to announce that 2023 will see the much-awaited return of the National District 9s. This will be the second instalment of the National District 9s after the inaugural event’s success.

          This year the National District 9s will be held at Bruce Pulman Park over the course of the Easter Weekend, with the 16s Boys and Girls competition being played on the 8th of April, the 18s Boys and Girls competition being played on the 9th of April and the finals of all four age group divisions culminating on the 10th of April.

          Ten districts will be represented at the Nationals spanning Northland, Auckland, Coastline, Hauraki, Manawatu, Hawkes Bay, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago.

          The top qualifying eight district teams (per age group) will compete in the National 9s Tournament. The National District 9s Tournament will collectively see 32 teams compete with a 16s Boys Champion, 16s Girls Champion, 18s Boys Champion and 18s Girls Champion, all crowned at the conclusion of the tournament.

          The National District 9s is one of the most significant events in rugby league calendar as David McMeeken, National Football Operations Manager at NZRL, says: “The 9s format is a proven successful entry point for rugby league as it nurtures and grows the game at a district level.”

          After a successful 2022 competition, districts will look to build momentum off the back of last season both in boys and girls’ age groups. One of the event’s initial intentions was to bring that competition back at a regional level while fostering and developing rangatahi talent throughout the country, something that was a proven success as many of the talent that played within last year’s competition went on to represent their districts in the girls and boys youth tournament held later that year.

          The growth in interest and participation in the girls game across the country is something to note as formats like the 9s help enable to push the girls game. Luisa Avaiki, Head of Women’s Rugby League at NZRL, says: “I’m beyond delighted that we can continue this momentum. It’s a significant event in our calendar and one that encourages girls from every district across New Zealand to get involved and fall in love with rugby league.”

          28 March 2023

           

          The National 20s Ruben Wiki Cup culminates this weekend at Navigation Homes Stadium in Pukekohe as the South Island Scorpions will meet the Counties Manukau Stingrays.

          South Island enter the contest as the only team unbeaten in the competition which included a tough victory over their finals competitors Counties Manukau along the way winning 38-24.

          South Island have looked dominant in every game that they have played, where they have looked sharped in defense creating defensive pressure to force errors whilst also dominating possession against their opponents.

          Big performances from the Scorpions key players such as Caleb Murphy and Jaedon Wellington will be crucial if South Island want to lift their first National 20’s Ruben Wiki Cup.

           

          Road to the final

           

          South Island Scorpions 46 vs Waikato Mana 8

           

          South Island Scorpions 58 vs Wellington Orcas 6

           

          South Island Scorpions 38 vs Counties Manukau Stingrays 24

           

          South Island Scorpions 0 vs Waikato Mana (Defaulted)

           

          However, although South Island have had a successful road to the finals. Do not count the Counties Manukau Stingrays out in any way. Off the back of an upset victory last week over the Akarana Falcons in the semi-finals, Counties will look to continue to build momentum heading into the finals.

          In their previous showdown against the South Island Scorpions, Counties had South Island scrambling at one point as they were leading in front only to let the game slip away in the final fifteen minutes of the game.

          An 80 minute effort will be needed if Counties Manukau are to come out victorious over their finals opponents. Huge efforts from key players such as Malachi Tony and Anthony Naitoko is crucial in order for Counties to pull of the big upset against South Island.

           

          Road to the Final

           

          Counties Manukau Stingrays 38 vs Wellington Orcas 4

           

          Counties Manukau Stingrays 54 vs Bay of Plenty 26

           

          Counties Manukau Stingrays 24 vs South Island Scorpions 38

           

          Counties Manukau Stingrays 28 vs Akarana Falcons 22

          25 March 2023

          In the semi final for the National 20s Ruben Wiki Cup. The Counties Manukau Stingrays met the Akarana Falcons at Navigation Homes stadium in Pukekohe.

          The game was a back and forth thriller with Counties Manukau capturing the win 22-28 with a late push in the final minutes.

          Akarana started out of the gate firing scoring couples tries early in the fold. However Counties Manukau’s persistent effort and constant pressure would keep them in the game as they would continue to answer back to Akarana’s points.

          The game would continue to be an arm wrestle as both teams would complete their sets. The conditions and pressure would eventually get to Akarana as Counties would capitalise on Akaran’s fatigue to scoop up a try to tie the game up 22 all.

          Akarana’s mistakes around the halfway line would cost them as Counties would use to get an early shift out the left edge. Quick play the balls and beautiful draw and pass action would see Counties Manukau’s winger Esau Meleisea in for the winning try to book Counties Manukau’s spot in the final against South Island next week.

          Sunday 19th, March

          In the third round of the Ruben Wiki Cup, the South Island Scorpions met the Counties Manukau Stingrays at Forsyth Barr stadium in Dunedin.

          South Island came out of the blocks firing on all cylinders as their execution on attacking and defensive plays were clinical. The Scorpions forced Counties Manukau to commit errors in their own half due to heavy defensive pressure as they scored two tries from centre Izyah Hesp and winger Saki Loma.

          Counties answered back with a try of their own as Malachi Tony scored with a nippy run out of dummy-half. South Island would go on to score another try before heading into halftime with the score at 18-6.

          Counties would come out of halftime determined as they were first to strike in the second half with fullback Robin Herbert scoring under the post. Counties would continue their momentum as they managed to score again gaining the lead for the first time in the game.

          The game would continue as an arm-wrestle as both teams would go back and forth however South Island would show their class as they slowly started to dominate possession and gain quick play the balls which converted into tries for the Scorpions.

          Counties Manukau would score a late try however it was too little too late as South Island would come away with the victory 38-24 as they advance into the semi-finals next week against Waikato.

          In the third round of the 2023 National 20s Competition, the Waikato Mana met Bay of Plenty in Rotorua at Puketawhero Park.

          It took almost 20 minutes of battling between the two teams before we saw the first points on the board. Waikato opened the match up with the first try to Cowan. Quickly followed by another try from teammate Sulusi. Connelly was the next Waikato player to score that pushed his team out to a comfortable lead to close out the scrappy first half.

          Bay of Plenty came into the second half firing with a first try within the first five minutes to Hebden-Penitoa. Jackson-Williams was next to score a try for Bay of Plenty closing the gap between the teams. Waikato hit back with a try of their own through Baretoka. Bay of Plenty scored under the posts with less than two minutes to go in the match through influential number twelve Pereira but it wasn’t enough to see his team through to the semi-finals.

          Waikato come away with the win over Bay of Plenty 20-18. The action continues next week as we move into the semi-finals stage of the competition.

          Saturday 18th, March 

          Akarana Falcons continued their winning streak with a 44-22 win over the Wellington Orcas in round 3 of the NZRL National 20s competition.

          Akarana opened the scoring account with a try from Nixon Leaso crashing over the line. Wellington quickly came up with their own points and saw prop Jahsiyah Tarrant Schuster off-load to Pharrell Gray, who broke through the Akarana defence line to score. Akarana managed to hit back with a try from Khalan Clyde, who dummied his way across the line.

          Wellington were determined to get even with the points and saw Gray sprinting down the left edge towards the try line to score his second in the game. The defending champs were unwilling to go down and saw their winger Micaiah Teleaga score on the left edge.

          Just before the whistle, Wellington’s centre, Gray, busted through the Akarana defence towards the try line. Scoring himself a hattrick and taking his team into the sheds with the lead, 18-16.

          A few minutes into the second stanza, Akarana opened the score account with number 22 stepping his way to the try line. Akarana’s barrage of tries continued after that. With more tries scored from Juelz Baker, Clyde with his second and Leaso scoring a hattrick for the game.

          With less than one minute to go, Wellington were determined for more points on the board and saw winger Laban Lealamisa over the line. After a tough back-and-forth contest in the first half, Akarana were too dominant in the second half. Wellington fought until the end, but the clock was not on their side this game. Akarana continues their winning streak ending the game 44-22.

          Akarana Falcons continues their winning streak into the Semi-Finals of the national 20s.

          12 March 2022

          In the second round of the Ruben Wiki Cup, the South Island Scorpions met the Wellington Orcas in Christchurch at Ngā Puna Wai. South Island came into the game as strong favourites after a dominant performance last week, adding to their winning streak by beating Wellington 58-6.

          From the first minute of the game, South Island dominated in all facets of the game as they would keep possession for the majority of the first half notching up tries in entertaining fashion. Strong defensive pressure from South Island forced Wellington to commit errors within their own half as the Scorpions would go into the second half 28-0.

          In the second half, South Island wasted no time as they continued to pile on the tries scoring most of them from forty meters out. Great pressure on the kick chase from South Island’s outside backs ensured that Wellington was always trapped deep inside their own half. Wellington however managed to score a consolation try.

          South Island looked clinical all game which will give them confidence heading into a tough matchup next week against Counties Manukau Stingrays.

           

          In the second round of the 2023 National 20s Competition, the Counties Manukau Stingrays met Bay of Plenty in Auckland at Navigation Homes Stadium. Counties came into the match as favourites again this week and continued their winning streak with a 54-26 win over Bay of Plenty.

          Within the first few minutes of the first half, Counties crashed over the line through Ben Fonotalaga with two back-to-back tries. Bay of Plenty was quick to come up with points of their own in the corner through Jayden Gilles. Bay of Plenty number 15 scored a try off the back of a Counties knock on to bring the score within a two-point margin. Bay of Plenty showed plenty of spirit with an excellent shift on the left to take the lead with a try to Christian Letoa. Counties not willing to go down scored another try through Sima Tau. The contest continued to heat up as Bay of Plenty scored a try through their Fullback Wairua Jackson-Williams to take his team into the sheds with the lead.

          The second half started with a bang, Stanley Hingano struck first with another set of back-to-back tries for Counties. The tries continued to roll in for Counties with another to Niu-Alinghi Peni, Jeroyme Pritchard and Harlem Te Namu. Bay of Plenty number 15 scored an excellent solo try with less than five minutes remaining in the match.  Counties closed out the match with a try to number nine Malachi Tony.

          Counties Manukau came away with their second win of the season over Bay of Plenty 54-26. The action continues next week as Counties take on the South Island Scorpions and Bay of Plenty come up against Waikato in Rotorua.

          Saturday 11 March 2023,

          Akarana Falcons win over Waikato Mana,  28-24, after a close battle in Round 2 of the NZRL National 20s competition.

          Akarana opened the scoring account with an impressive run down the right edge for Gordan-Amoroa to put Akarana in the lead. Minutes later, Leaso scored off an offload from his prop teammate down the left edge to add another four to Akarana’s scoring account.

          Waikato bounced back with back-to-back tries to even the game out. A superb tries from their half-back and winger, who both forced their way through the Akarana’s defence to secure points for Waikato.

          Just before the whistle, Akarana manages to secure another 4 to put them in front. Akarana led Waikato 14-8 into the sheds.

          Minutes into the second stanza, Akarana continued their dominance with back-to-back tries from Captain Smith and Teleaga. Waikato wasted no time to hit back with another four from their loose forward. Still, Akarana maintained the lead, with Teleaga scoring himself a hattrick and putting Akarana further in front.

          With under 10min to go, Waikato showed a glimmer of hope scoring impressive back-to-back tries to try and gain the lead.

          Waikato fought until the end, but the clock was not on their side this game. The Akarana Falcons continue their winning streak ending the game 28-24 to them.

          Saturday 4th March

          In the opening round of the Ruben Wiki Cup the South Island Scorpions battled against Waikato Mana at League Park in Ngaruwahia.

          South Island came in as heavy favourites and confirmed their dominance against the Orcas with a 46-8 victory to start their season.

          South Island started off in fine fashion as they scored early in the contest. Waikato struck back with a try of their own to even out the scores however, South Island continued to put pressure on Waikato dotting over the line another three times before half-time.

          As second the second half kick off, Waikato showed a glimmer of hope as centre Fale gathered a beautifully weighted chip kick to put their captain Tupou in for a try.

          However, that was the only glimpse of fight that Waikato showed as South Island continued where they left off in the first half. Great defensive pressure turned into offence as South Island continued to pile on the points against Waikato with the final score being 46-8.

          In the opening round of the 2023 National 20s Competition, the Counties Manukau Stingrays met the Wellington Orcas in Wellington at Wise Park. Counties came into the match as strong favourites and proved their dominance over the Orcas with a 4-38 win to kick off their campaign.

          After ten minutes of back and forth, Counties Manukau put the first points on the board with a try in the corner by Caleb Meleisea. Counties Manukau number 8 Stanley Hingano crashed over the line ten minutes later to extend the visitor’s lead. Counties Manukau’s Toaiti Ramsay had an excellent line break to set up another try from teammate Jeremiah Tamatimu. Twenty-five minutes into the match Counties Manukau’s Meleisea scored his second try to close out the first half.

          As the first half continued, Counties Manukau’s ruck speed was too much for the Orcas with an opening try from Niu-Alinghi Peni. The Wellington Orcas finally found their opportunity to score halfway through the second half of the match through number 14 Junior Telea. Counties Manukau’s ball retention continued to dominate as tries rolled in by Malachi Tony, Jeroyme Pritchard, and Ramsay.

          Counties Manukau came away with their first win of the season over the Wellington Orcas 4-38. The action continues next week as Counties take on Bay of Plenty and the Orcas come up against the South Island Scorpions in Christchurch.

          The defending champions Akarana Falcons, made a huge statement with a 74-06 win over Bay of Plenty in Round 1 of the NZRL National 20s Ruben Wiki Cup.

          The Bay of Plenty defence was under pressure for most of the first half. Akarana was relentless in pressure taking every opportunity to put points on the board.

          Khalan Clyde opened the scoring account for Akarana powering his way over the scoreline. After five minutes of play, Louis Dehar-Webster slid between the Bay of Plenty defence and found the half-back on the board.

          Desperation from the Bay of Plenty side saw winger Tiona Noora stretch over the line to claw the Bay of Plenty back into the contest.

          Akarana bounced back strong with three more tries from Andre Nu’uali’itia, Ariki Honetana, and Clyde to put Akarana further in front. Akarana entered the sheds with a significant early lead over Bay of Plenty 38-06.

          Akarana’s barrage of tries continued into the second half; more tries were scored from Akrana’s Axel-Ray Fine-Sietu, Juelz Baker, Waikare Ratima, and Carlos Davis.

          With less than ten minutes to go, Bob Iosefo scored his first for the game, and Clyde and Honetana scored a hattrick before the final whistle was blown. The final score was 74-06 to the Akarana Falcons.

           

          February 28 2023

           

          The premier 20’s competition, The Ruben Wiki Cup, is back this year, kicking off on Saturday, the 4th of March, with Bay of Plenty hosting Akarana.

           

          The Ruben Wiki Cup provided a level of competition not seen before in Aotearoa, culminating in a slew of grassroots players signing with professional NRL clubs.

          The cup consists of six teams across the motu, with Wellington and Bay of Plenty being the newest additions to the competition replacing upper Central. The six teams will be placed into two pools where they will battle it out over three weeks, where the top two teams from each pool will advance to the semi-finals, with the finals being played on March 4.

           

          All games will be televised on Sky.

           

          Week 1 draw: 

           

          Saturday 4th March

          Bay of Plenty v Akarana – 12pm – Puketawhero Park, Rotorua

           

          Counties Manukau v Wellington Orcas – 2pm – Wise Park, Wainuiomata

           

          Sunday 5th March

           

          Waikato v South Island – 12pm – League Park, Ngāruawāhia

          As seen on  https://www.stuff.co.nz

          They may be no-names now, but by the end of the season these players could transform into stars of the NRL. Here are the 10 rookies set to make their NRL debut in 2023, with the first three having Kiwi origins.

          1. Isaiya Katoa (Dolphins)

          Position: Halfback

          Age: 18

          Wellington-born Katoa was at the centre of a tug-of-war between Penrith and the Dolphins last year. With Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary blocking his path, he opted to join Wayne Bennett on a lucrative deal for a player without NRL experience.

          Katoa was banished from Penrith midway through last year after signing with the Dolphins, but returned in the finals series to lead the Panthers to premiership glory in the NSW Cup. Made his international debut for Tonga at the end of the year and showed that he has a long and bright future in the sport.

          2. Siua Wong (Sydney Roosters)

          Position: Back row

          Age: 19

          Almost got the chance to make his NRL debut last year, but the Roosters decided to hold him back. Wong was impressive in the lower grades in 2022 and showed he belongs on the big stage with an impressive outing for Fiji at the World Cup.

          Born in Auckland, Wong is a rugby union product of Sydney’s Scots College. Wong started last season in SG Ball, leading the team to a grand final. He finished the year as one of the best players for the Bears in a disappointing NSW Cup finals campaign before heading over to England for the World Cup.

          3. Karl Oloapu (Canterbury Bulldogs)

          Position: Halfback

          Age: 18

          Raised in Wellington and a former Randwick junior, Oloapu recently signed a four-year deal to link up with the Bulldogs this year following a messy exit from the Brisbane Broncos.

          Oloapu is so highly regarded that the Bulldogs forked out a reported $500,000 transfer fee to secure his services for this year. While Kyle Flanagan will be given first crack at the Canterbury No.7 jersey, the teen will join Khaled Rajab pushing for a spot later in the season.

          Oloapu, who had been part of Brisbane’s system from the age of 13, refused to train late last year after what he claimed was a series of “broken promises”. New Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo recently convinced him his future was at Belmore.

          4. Paul Alamoti (Canterbury Bulldogs)

          Position: Centre

          Age: 19

          Canterbury have big expectations of Alamoti, who turned 19 a fortnight ago. The powerful centre is expected to start the season in Ciraldo’s strongest 13.

          Alamoti graduated from Kogarah Marist, where he also excelled in basketball and athletics. The Bulldogs have struggled to produce local talent in recent seasons but Alamoti is straight out of local team the Milperra Colts. He’s been a star through all the lower grades, playing for NSW in the under 18’s Origin and also selected in the Australian Schoolboys merit team.

          5. Jonah Pezet (Melbourne Storm)

          Position: Halfback

          Age: 20

          This could be the one that got away for Newcastle. Jonah is the son of former NRL player Troy Pezet. He finished with four try assists for NSW in the under 19’s State of Origin game last year, playing a leading hand in the Blues’ 32-4 win.

          Could make his NRL debut during the representative window. A star in the making. Was already contracted to Melbourne for 2023 but recently extended his deal to commit his future to the Storm until the end of 2025.

          6. Blake Mozer (Brisbane Broncos)

          Position: Hooker

          Age: 20

          Another product of Queensland’s Keebra Park State High School. There are high hopes for Mozer to be the club’s long-term No 9. It’s a position the Broncos appear to be short on depth with Billy Walters tipped to start the season at dummy-half.

          Some say he’s a throwback to some of the game’s more creative hookers like Robbie Farah and Cameron Smith. While his footy IQ is at a high standard, he still has to improve his physicality. A work in progress but a player with a bright future. Played for Queensland in the under 19’s Origin last year.

          7. Jesse McLean (Penrith Panthers)

          Position: Fullback, centre, wing

          Age: 18

          The Australian Schoolboys star is expected to win one of Penrith’s last remaining top 30 spots in 2023. Everyone at Penrith is talking about the progression of the kid who can play fullback, wing or centre.

          He won Penrith’s SG Ball Emerging Talent award last year, scoring a double in the grand final victory over the Roosters. While no one at Penrith wanted to lose Stephen Crichton, they also knew that McLean was coming through the ranks and will be vying for a regular spot in 2024.

          His preferred position is fullback but he may have to wait a while judging by the performances of incumbent Dylan Edwards. McLean, a Blacktown and Doonside junior, is tipped to get his debut during the Origin period for the Panthers.

          8. Latu Fainu (Manly Sea Eagles)

          Position: Five-eighth

          Age: 17

          He won’t be able to play in the NRL until his 18th birthday on May 28, but the excitement around the younger brother of Manase Fainu is undeniable. While Josh Schuster will be given first crack at the No 6 jersey following the departure of Kieran Foran, there is pressure from underneath.

          Manly knew from a young age that Fainu was destined for the NRL. It’s why they handed him a lucrative four-year deal as a 16-year-old. The Guildford junior is another one from the crop of western Sydney talent the Sea Eagles have snared in recent years.

          9. Josh Feledy (Wests Tigers)

          Position: Centre

          Age: 18

          Feledy struck up a combination with Latu Fainu at Manly, but decided to join the Wests Tigers this year. The Tigers are short on quality outside backs and have identified Feledy as a star of the future.

          Unlikely to get time in the NRL the first half of the year, but we know coach Tim Sheens isn’t afraid to throw a teenager into the NRL.

          He did it with Chris Lawrence and Benji Marshall and could do it again with Feledy in 2023. Has speed to burn and an attacking game that will excite Tigers fans.

          10. Harrison Hassett (Penrith Panthers)

          Position: Back row

          Age: 19

          The Dolphins thought they had secured Hassett’s services in a major coup for the NRL’s newcomers. But at the 11th hour Hassett had a change of heart and decided to remain at the Panthers.

          Penrith came in late with a revised offer to keep him at the club. While the Panthers have plenty of depth in the forwards, Hassett could come into calculations during the Origin period.

          Hassett, a St Marys junior, was part of Penrith’s SG Ball-winning side last year, scoring six tries and racking up 29 tackle busts in 10 games.

          18 January 2023

          The National 20s Ruben Wiki Cup returns for 2023, with Bay of Plenty and Wellington joining the competition.

          Kicking off Friday, March 3rd, six teams will battle it out for the National 20s title; reigning champions Akarana, Counties Manukau, Waikato Mana, South Island and newcomers Bay of Plenty and Wellington Orcas.

          The Ruben Wiki Cup games will be broadcast live on Sky Sport 4 to domestic and international audiences, working as a key development pathway for future high-performance opportunities.

          The Ruben Wiki Cup showcases New Zealand’s U20s domestic game and provides clubs and districts with the opportunity to recruit and retain rangatahi talent, an age group notorious for significant drop-offs in sporting activity.

          NZRL is looking to expand the National 20s competition in 2024 with the inclusion of an additional two to four District teams, as well as a women’s grade.

          NZRL GM of High Performance and Football, Motu Tony, says: “Each year, the competition has provided players with opportunities to further their careers with NRL or NRL-affiliated clubs.

          “With each game being broadcast, the competition shines a spotlight on our best young players; not only that, it’s a key development opportunity for coaches, managers, trainers and match officials across the country.

          “The Ruben Wiki Cup gets bigger and better every year, and I look forward to a great competition this 2023.”

           

           

           

          By Sam Ackerman as seen in Bay of Plenty Times

          One of the most promising young sporting talents in the Bay of Plenty is about to leave the country.

          This isn’t a story about a disgruntled athlete throwing his toys and taking his talents elsewhere – rather a grateful one who plans to represent the region as he chases his dreams.

          Fifteen-year-old Marley Igasan is taking up a contract with NRL heavy hitters the Brisbane Broncos as part of its contracted elite development squad, his recruitment putting him on a pathway towards rugby league’s big time.

          It wasn’t a hard decision from a sporting point of view, but it was from a personal perspective.

          “I look at it as a bit of inspiration,” Igasan said. “It’s a big privilege to be able to say that I’m from Tauranga and make all my friends and family proud that I’ve achieved this goal from here.

          “In a way, I think I represent all the Kiwi kids that want to go over there and play footy. So it’s a good opportunity for me to take that one on my back. It’s just good to represent where you’re from and I plan to never forget that.”

          Igasan has crammed much into the last six years since his parents, James and Michelle, decided to bring their son and his sister Piper ‘home’.

          Igasan said being in Tauranga allowed him to connect with his culture and fully understand who he is, where he comes from, and what he represents.

          “I’ve always been proud of being Māori and a Kiwi but to be surrounded by that culture is something that will always stay with me.”

          Born in New Zealand but raised in Perth, Igasan has been playing league since he was 4. Since relocating to his adopted province in 2017, he has become embedded in the Coastline Rugby League environment. Igasan has pulled on the jerseys of the Otūmoetai Eels, the Whalers, and the Upper Central Stallions, going on to be crowned the district’s supreme player of the year.

          Igasan (Ngāpuhi and Ngāi Tahu) has grabbed every opportunity to represent his heritage. For the past two years, he was named MVP in his age grade at the Rangatahi Māori Rugby League Tournament while starring for the Pikiao Warriors, going on to co-captain the NZ Māori U15 team at the Pasifika Youth Cup last year.

          He also co-captained the Aotearoa Whānui U16 side (made up of players South of the Bombays) that competed against the Auckland Invitational squad.

          All this in between jetting back and forward across the Tasman to train with and finally represent the Broncos elite development squad.

          Some junior athletes stand out with flashy skills or blistering pace. What sets Igasan apart is his versatility and on-field work ethic.

          While comfortable running attacking plays from within the halves and at hooker, his unrelenting defensive drive has also seen him spend time at prop – though it would appear the number 13 jersey is the best fit to mix his ball-playing skills with his thirst for physicality.

          His oval ball skills aren’t limited to the 13-man code. Igasan, a former BOP Roller Mills Rugby rep, made the Mount Maunganui College 1st XV not long after his 15th birthday, helping them to the Baywide championship in 2022.

          The sportsman hardly sat idle during his Tauranga summers.

          A qualified lifeguard, you can find Igasan’s name engraved on numerous awards at the Mount Maunganui Surf Lifesaving Club, as well as racking up a string of national titles at the country’s mecca of junior surf lifesaving, the Oceans Festival. The Igasan siblings have also been two of the prominent athletes featured in TVNZ’s Life Savers series.

          He also works as a rippa rugby referee and volleyball coach and said his parents raised him right.

          “They’ve taught me to use my manners and be confident but not cocky. I owe a lot to them, for helping me be a good sportsman and good person in general.

          “They’ve always told me to keep putting in the mahi, to never stop unless you want to quit, which in our family is not really a thing to do.”

          It’s also part of what drew the Broncos – as well as interest from other clubs like the powerhouse Sydney Roosters and NRL newcomers the Dolphins – to Igasan in the first place. Broncos academy manager Mick Kennedy explained why Igasan’s signature has been so highly sought after.

          “Marley’s not only a talented kid, but he has high attention to detail. He does a lot of clean-up work, particularly defensively, that goes unnoticed a lot of the time but certainly not unnoticed to his teammates.

          “The main attribute that attracted me to Marley is his competitiveness, his will to win out on the field. Every time he steps on the field, he’s doing everything he possibly can to win the game for his team. Players with those types of attributes generally do really well.

          “He’s a nice, humble young man – as long as he’s prepared to work hard over the next few years, I’m sure he’ll have a really good opportunity.”

          That shouldn’t be an issue for Igasan, never one to complain about a heavy workload.

          In a week in June, Igasan played four games in two days at the Māori tournament in Rotorua, drove to Auckland to fly to Brisbane for physical conditioning testing before the return trip 24 hours later, then straight back to Tauranga for school the next day. On top of that, he squeezed in three rugby training sessions and, oh, a game of social basketball.

          And it would have been more had bad weather not cancelled his club game.

          Igasan was buzzing about joining the Broncos development system that has the legacy of turning juniors into superstars.

          “You see all the photos on the wall of premierships won with the likes of Darren Lockyer and you look at the honours board with all of the players you looked up to when you were growing up. It’s amazing, it’s a real professional place to be.”

          So highly is Igasan regarded that the Broncos were prepared to allow him to stay based in Tauranga, commuting Trans Tasman regularly for testings, training and games while following a personalised training programme.

          But the opportunity to get more regular quality football and have more tournaments at his disposal was one Igasan knew he needed to take – and the sacrifice of moving with his family one they were willing to make.

          “The long-term goal is to make it into the NRL and have a really good career but also to be a good person while doing that, finding a way to support different charities and the community. But on the rugby league front, hopefully I will give it a good crack and be one of the greats to come from New Zealand.”

          That sounds like a lofty and bold ambition, but Igasan has already shown he doesn’t sit around waiting for his goals to happen. He’s willing to do what it takes to make them a reality.

          14th December 2022 

           

          As our communities returned to the field post two Covid-disrupted years, a full-strength domestic rugby league calendar saw some stand-out talent across the motu. NZRL is pleased to announce the 2022 Domestic Rugby League Award recipients.  

           

          The Grassroots Club of the Year was highly contested in 2022. NZRL would like to recognise runner-up clubs; Ravens (Hukanui / College Old Boys) (Upper Central); Linwood Keas (South Island), He Tauaa Rugby League Club (South Island) and Dannevirke Tigers (Mid Central). All clubs achieved outstanding results regarding participation growth, sideline behaviour, volunteer upskilling and implementing Kiwi Way values across the game.  

           

          The Porirua Vikings’ (Wellington) impressive on-field results and representation across all grades, coupled with the impact of their community programme,s has seen them awarded the 2022 Grassroots Club of the Year.  

           

          The club was recognised in the Wellington Airport Regional Community Awards for outstanding volunteer service to their community. This included a community health day promoting COVID vaccinations and pandemic support and the implementation of an employment programme encouraging unemployed players to undertake education and training to assist with future job prospects.  

           

          The 2022 Men’s and Women’s Domestic Player of the Year awards have gone to Tevin Arona (Auckland Vulcans) and Abigail Roache (Counties Manukau).  

           

          Arona had an outstanding year leading the Vulcans to their promotion to the 2023 NZRL Premiership after a dominant Championship display. Arona was crowned Championship Final MVP and took home top try-scorer and goal-kicker for the 2022 tournament.  

           

          Roache took home the ARL Cathy Friend Women’s Player of the Year before being called up to make her Test debut for the Kiwi Ferns at the Rugby League World Cup in England. She played an integral role at five-eighth guiding the Ferns to a finals appearance at Old Trafford.  

           

          The 2022 18s Boy’s and Girl’s Player of Year awards have gone to Rodney Tuipolotu-Vea (Counties Manukau) and Alexis Tauaneai (Upper Central / Wellington). 

           

          Tuipolotu-Vea played an integral role in De La Salle’s success story at the NZRL Secondary Schools Tournament, which he followed up with an impressive performance for the NZRL18s Boy’s Schools team.  

           

          Tauaneai was crowned National 9s Tournament MVP, playing an integral role in the Orcas’ win. She then impressed at NZRL Youth Girl’s competition for Upper Central making the Girl’s 18s Club squad for 2022.  

           

          Counties Manukau stars Augustino Filipo and Braxton Sorensen-McGee, have taken home the Boy’s and Girl’s 16s Player of the Year awards. 

           

          Filipo captained the 16s Stingrays to a National Championship victory before making the Auckland Invitational representative squad. He’s described as “a natural born leader who always thinks of others and shows opponents respect on and off the field, win or lose.” 

           

          Sorensen-McGee was voted MVP in the Auckland Secondary School final and played an integral role in Auckland Girls’ journey to the National Secondary School final. She was rewarded with a New Zealand Secondary School representative selection before impressing in Counties’ National 16s Girls Youth Tournament victory. 

           

          The South Island region has produced the Coach, Manager and Trainer of the year for 2022.  

           

          Archie Jacobs has been awarded 2022 Coach of the Year after coaching the South Island 20s, South Island Scorpions 18s Boys and the NZSS 18s Boys.  

           

          Canterbury’s Lee Mou has taken home Trainer of the Year after working as head trainer for the Canterbury Bulls, the South Island 20s and the New Zealand 18s Boys Clubs side who were victorious against the NZSS side last month. 

           

          Sabrina Manu has been awarded Manager of the Year after a busy 2022 managing the Canterbury Women’s side, South Island Scorpions 16s Girls, 16s Girls Aotearoa Whaanui Team and the Linwood Women’s side. 

           

          Paki Parkinson has taken home Match Official of the Year for the third year running after being selected to officiate at the Rugby League World League Cup in England.  

           

          Northland’s Gina Allan has been awarded Pirtek Volunteer of the Year for her dedication towards growing rangatahi and female participation in the Northland region. For more information on Gina’s story, click here. 

           

          NZRL CEO Greg Peters says, “These awards recognise exceptional work in our domestic and community space both on and off the field.  

           

          “Thank you to those in our rugby league communities who continue to go above and beyond for our game. It’s the dedication of our people that keeps rugby league thriving – thank you for another great year.” 

           

          2022 NZRL DOMESTIC WINNERS  

           

          Grassroots Club of the Year – Porirua Vikings (Wellington) 

           

          Men’s Domestic Player of the Year – Tevin Arona (Auckland Vulcans) 

          Shortlist: Jamel Hunt (Counties Manukau); Jordan Campbell (South Island). 

           

          Women’s Domestic Player of the Year – Abigail Roache (Counties Manukau) 

          Shortlist: Kelly Maipi (Counties Manukau); Cassie Siataga (South Island); Jamie Tautari (Upper Central). 

           

          18s Boys Player of the Year – Rodney Tuipolotu-Vea (Counties Manukau) 

          Shortlist: Jordan Chapman (Wellington); Makaia Tafua (Wellington). 

           

          18s Girls Player of the Year – Alexis Tauaneai (Upper Central / Wellington)  

          Shortlist: Tamisha Tulua (Counties Manukau); Kyla Lynch-Brown (South Island); Kimoana Niupalau (Upper Central). 

           

          16s Boys Player of the Year – Augustino Filipo (Counties Manukau)  

          Shortlist: Joshua Totara Kopua (Counties Manukau); Mangaroa Mark (Waikato); Maui Winitana-Patelesio (Wellington); Ezekiel Faga-Ieti (South Island); Marley Igasan (Upper Central). 

           

          16s Girls Player of the Year – Braxton Sorensen-McGee (Counties Manukau) 

          Shortlist: Molly Byford (Upper Central); Trinity Tauaneai (Wellington); Anya Clark (South Island). 

           

          Coach of the Year – Archie Jacobs (South Island) 

          Shortlist: Andrew Palepale (Counties Manukau); Damian White (Upper Central); Ake Pereira (Wellington); Jed Lawrie (South Island); Steve Buckingham (Akarana). 

           

          Trainer of the Year – Lee Mou (South Island)  

          Shortlist: Nicole Liesching (Counties Manukau); George Smyth (Upper Central); Willie Vunipola (Mid Central). 

           

          Manager of the Year – Sabrina Manu (South Island) 

          Shortlist: Deborah Tupou (Counties Manukau); Cindy Petero (Upper Central). 

           

          Match Official of the Year – Paki Parkinson (Upper Central) 

          Shortlist: Marissa Puketapu (Wellington); Daniel Price (Mid Central); Jack Feavers (Southern Zone). 

           

          Pirtek Volunteer of the Year – Gina Allan (Northland) 

           

           

           

          24 November 2022

          2022 sees the return of the prestigious Pirtek Volunteer of the Month award, where our rugby league community gets a chance to see their hard mahi recognised across the motu. This award is gifted to a volunteer who displays the core values of NZRL’s Kiwi Way: being family first, innovative, inclusive, respectful, respectful and humble. We are excited to announce that the final winner of 2022 and the month of November is Siosiua Kailahi.

          Siosiua Kailahi delves his hat into many roles across the rugby league community. Kailahi is the head coach for the U13 Wolfpack rugby league side, the U13 Hakula Tonga representative side, the St. Pauls Junior squad while also holding roles with the New Zealand Canterbury Bulldogs academy and U18s Dean Bell North White side (Assistant coach).

          Dedicated to a role where he works with young men, Kailahi is much more than a coach. Siosuia acts as a role model, counsellor, mentor and father figure to all the youth that oversees. For Sosh (as he is known), it is more than just rugby league. The game is a vehicle that allows him to connect and mentor teenagers into becoming men. It is about how they represent themselves and their families on and off the pitch.

          Sosh encourages the boys he coaches to be accountable, to be respectful and, most importantly, to be connected.

          His energy never wavers between the three teams he coaches, and his efforts show that rugby league can be a driver for creating young role models in the community.

          Pirtek CEO Chris Bourke commented on Kailahi, “Siosiua Kailahi is a worthy winner of the Pirtek Volunteer of the Month award for November. Kailahi displays and delivers on all of the core values of NZRL’s Kiwi Way.

          He is innovative with his coaching methods and values respect and humility in his teams. Importantly, Siosuia is humble and teaches the young boys to be modest in life via his involvement with the teams he is associated with.“

          Volunteers need to be recognised for their commitment and dedication, and Siosiua epitomises those values.

          Congratulations Siosiua!

          31 October 2022

          2022 sees the return of the prestigious Pirtek Volunteer of the Month award, where our rugby league community gets a chance to see their hard mahi recognised across the motu. This award is gifted to a volunteer who displays the core values of NZRL’s Kiwi Way: being family first, innovative, inclusive, respectful, respectful and humble. We are excited to announce that the winner for the month of October is Grant Woodgate

          Grant Woodgate has been a servant to the Hornby Rugby League Club since he donned the jersey in 1952. From there, he went on to play not just for Hornby but for Canterbury too.

          Woodgate then moved into coaching, managing, trainer and strapper roles as he remained passionate about serving the Hornby club and his community. Woodgate eventually became Club President and is now a Life Member of the Club, a rugby league club he has poured his heart and soul into.

          To this day, Grant never questions the calls for help or support; he serves the club where he can with a smile on his face. His selfless gift is his time; Woodgate remains at the grounds after training and games, interacting with the players or mentoring the juniors. He offers his services as a strapper or trainer, providing valuable insight where he can.

          After so many years of service to Hornby Rugby League Club, Woodgate’s enthusiasm and energy never wavers. He always makes time for the club, its staff and its players and has been a pivotal part of the Panthers’ growth.He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, He tangata, He tangata!

          Pirtek CEO Chris Bourke commented,  “The acknowledgment of Grant Woodgate’s commitment and importance to Hornby Rugby League Club is supported by all of the people associated with the club.”

          Grant has done it all for the club, starting as a player in 1952 and still shows his dedication to the club after many years.”

          “Grant’s dedication to the club and game goes beyond normal volunteering expectations, and that’s why Grant is a very worthy winner of the Pirtek Volunteer of the Month.”

          Congratulations Grant!

          Pirtek Volunteer of the Month Submission Form

          Who is your Pirtek Volunteer of the Month?
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            24 October 2023

            The 18s Clubs vs Schools did not disappoint as they put on a stellar afternoon of rugby league.

            Clubs were the first to strike as Kayliss Fatialofa created a half chance for Phranklyn Mano-Le-Mamea to finish off.

            Schools however hit right back through lock Elijah Leaumoana as he crashed over from dummy half to even the scores. Both teams hung in the wrestle before winger Raphael Sio gave the Clubs side the advantage again, going into the sheds up ten points to six.

            Sio carried his scoring form into the second half as he crossed over two minutes into the stanza. The teal outfit then went on a tear, as Mano-Le-Mamea put his edge rower into a hole and backing up to score under the posts.

            With Schools under the pumped Rotorua Boys winger Malakai Cama popped up with the ball, beat two defenders and set up centre Kesaia Su’a to reduce the margin to eight. An obstruction by Fatialofa gave the Schools some attacking position and St Paul’s Sio Kali made his way over to put the game within two.

            Sensing the moment, a looping pass from MVP Phranklyn Mano-Le-Mamea connected with Kayliss Fatialofa to once again extend the Clubs lead. Although Rodney Tuipulotu-Vea crossed late it wasn’t enough as Clubs ran out 26-22 winners.

             

            Auckland Invitational sneak away with the victory with two minutes left in the game.

            The 16’s boys Auckland invitational squad played the Aotearoa Whaanui 16’s in the opening game of the Boys Rep Weekend on Sunday at North Harbour stadium. Aotearoa Whaanui started the game hot scoring a try within the first 10 minutes of the game. From there they continued to build momentum by way of quick play the balls and forcing errors. However, Auckland invitational with backs against the wall begun to mount a comeback as playmaker Haami Loza dotted down twice to make the score 12-8 to Aoatearoa Whaanui at the half.

            With their halves providing opportunities out wide for their outside backs to score two tries, Aotearoa Whaanui continued to rule the second half as they did the first. A determined Auckland Invitational team scored three tries in the game’s last 10 minutes to win 24-20 after it appeared that all hope was lost.

            23 October 2022

            NZ Clubs flawless in their victory over NZ Schools at North Harbour’s QBE Stadium.

            Both teams got into the wrestle early but a costly penalty allowed left side centre Paris Pickering to open the games account on the next set.

            Clubs winger Kyla Lynch Brown then buffed the advantage as Clubs went up 10-0. Youth Tournament MVP and Counties fullback Tamisha Tulua then found herself in some space as she went under the post, Clubs owning all the ascendency in the first half.

            Another set on the School’s line saw Akarana’s Tatiana Finau crash over on the right edge before Paris Pickering finished off a left hand shift to dummy the fullback and put the Clubs side up 28-0 going into the sheds.

            Tulua continued where they left off scoring from within a minute of the second half and the Clubs side didn’t look back.

            Lynch Brown added to her tally as well as Claudia Finau, Ronise Matini and Kimoana Niupalau as they recorded a famous 50-0 victory.

            NZ CLUBS 50

            Tries: Pickering, Lynch Brown x2, Tulua x2, T Finau, C Finau, Matini, Niupala

            Conversions: T Finau 7/9

            NZ SCHOOLS 0

             

            23 October

            QBE Stadium hosted the first-ever 16s Girls representative clash between Auckland Invitation and Aotearoa Whaanui.

            The Auckland side started strong as Youth Tournament Finals MVP Josinah Filisi Tauiliili opened Auckland’s account, taking an early 4-0 lead. Moments later half Danii-Nicole Gray picked up an offload and split two defenders, barging her way over to extend Auckland’s advantage.

            The Aotearoa side got a much-needed reply, fighting their way back into the game through Arlia Maccarthy, as she swept out the back into some space. This try put the sides at 8-4 heading into the sheds.

            With the game in the balance, Glenora’s Tiare-Anne Leauga gave the Auckland side a eight point buffer, scoring in the right hand corner.

            Aotearoa hit back with a try through substitute Bailey Rae Edwards but Auckland found the line twice, through Elizabeth Ngahe and Milahn Ieremia to put the game beyond doubt. Final score 22-8

            AUCKLAND INVITATIONAL 22

            Tries: Filisi Tauliili, Gray, Leauga, Ngahe, Ieremia

            Conversions: Pasese 1/5

            AOTEAROA WHAANUI 8

            Tries: Maccarthy, Edwards

             

            23 October 2022

            Kiwi Ferns Mya Hill-Moana and Kararaina Wira-Kohu took the opportunity to speak to all three New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) girls’ teams last night ahead of the first-ever national representative matches today at the North Harbour Stadium.

            The U16 grade will see Auckland Invitational play against Aotearoa Whaanui at 12.00pm, while the U18 NZRL Clubs and Schools match kicks off at 2.00pm.

            Both games are free to attend and LIVE on Sky Sport.

            Mya (20), an NRLW Premiership-winner and Māori All Star, started her journey in Huntly at the Taniwharau Rugby League Club before making her way up the ranks in rangatahi (youth) tournaments, Waikato-based competitions and New Zealand Māori Rugby League fixtures.

            “It was cool to speak to the girls because it reminded me of where I was at their age and how I started. I felt like I was able to give back to them by talking about my experiences,” Mya said.

            “This certain campaign is awesome because it provides our girls with the opportunity to be scouted from everywhere.

            “It’s growing the women’s game from a young age and preparing them for what’s to come, they’re already wearing the fern and the kiwi on their uniform this weekend.”

            For Kararaina (30), who debuted for the Kiwi Ferns in 2020 v Fetu Samoa, her pathway looked quite different to Mya’s.

            “My beginnings were opposite to Mya and I mean that in the most respectful way, where I come from in Northland (Whangarei) it’s union-based,” Kararaina said.

            “But it’s nice to see a lot of young girls playing in U14-U18 grades now, making these games a win for women’s rugby league in general. More teams mean more opportunities for girls filtering through these channels.

            “This is something we didn’t have when I was playing which is massive for the growth and development of not only players but the staff too.”

            NZRL Head of Women’s Rugby League Luisa Avaiki Tavesivesi was a driving force behind the success of these matches, a long-standing dream for the former Kiwi Fern

            “It was awesome to hear both Mya and Kat speak not only because they’re playing at the highest level but because they came through their own grassroots routes respectively,” Tavesivesi said.

            “The female game is so important to us, with the Kiwi Ferns in mind these pathways have been developed not just for our rangatahi but to improve everyone including coaches, referees and administrators.

            “What that means is if our emerging talent, even from the youngest age, get opportunities to develop and be their best in competitive competitions it’s only going to improve our Kiwi Ferns system.

            “I’m proud, it’s actually kind of emotional to know our young girls are in a campaign just like we are at the Kiwi Ferns right now.

            “There’s also so many obstacles we have had to go through to make these fixtures happen, when you see the product and the players are excited to play it makes all the work worth it.”

            The Kiwi Ferns are headed to the Rugby League World Cup 2021 in York, England on Tuesday, October 25.

             

             

             

             

             

             

             

             

             

            19 October 2022

            This weekend brings us the return of NZRL’s Clubs vs Schools fixture and the introduction of the 16’s Auckland Invitational vs Aotearoa Whaanui representative matchups.

            The Labour weekend brings us the first ever 16’s Auckland Invitational vs Aotearoa Whaanui representative game, where the best talent from across the motu face Auckland’s top 17.

            Both sides claim considerable talent across their respective squads in a game that sees the young future stars of the game. The Wellington cohort of Billie Va’a, Jayda Maniapoto and Trinity Tauaneai headline an exciting and balanced Aotearoa Whaanui, which has strike all across the park.

            Finals MVP Josinah Filisi Tauiliili leads the Auckland Invitational side out after an outstanding performance in the 16’s grand final. She is joined by teammate Danii-Nicole Gray and the exciting Tayla-Benet Masoe, who played at the back for the Auckland Vulcans.

            The 16s Auckland Invitational is headlined by Akarana Falcon and Youth Tournament MVP Kaawyn Patterson. A team with strike all over, centre Taipari Wikitera and winger Ezekiel Tavita looked dangerous with every touch. Aotearoa Whaanui is one dominated by a solid Southern Scorpions side. Exciting talent Ezekiel Faga’ieti leads the Aotearoa side, whilst Wellington Orca Maui Winitana-Patelesio directs them around the park.

            The 16s Auckland Invitation is headlined by Akarana Falcon and Youth Tournament MVP Kaawyn Patterson. A team that possesses strike across the park, centre Taipari Wikitera and winger Ezekiel Tavita were electric for their sides in the Youth Tournament. The Aotearoa Whaanui outfit is one dominated by the South Island Scorpions. Exciting young talent Ezekiel Fanga’ieti leads the Southern side, whilst Wellington Orca Maui Winitana-Patelesio directs them around the park.

            Starting in 2020, the NZRL Clubs vs Schools clash features the best 18s talent Aotearoa offers. Although it was unable to take place in 2021 due to covid-19, it has already seen many of its participants go on to sign with NRL Clubs. Players such as Sam McIntyre (Gold Coast Titans), Daeon Amituanai (Penrith Panthers) and Josiah Karapani (South Sydney Rabbitohs) all found homes in the Telstra Premiership after playing in this match.

            The 2022 game will feature an inaugural girl’s clash displaying the depth of the women’s game. NZRL Secondary Schools MVP Sharnyze Pihema headlines the match with Seriah Palepale and Giovanna Suani, also ones to watch for the Schools. The Clubs squad is led by Youth Tournament MVP Tamisha Tulua and Upper Central’s Alexis Tauaneai, who were electric in the girl’s competition.

            Secondary Schools and Youth tournament MVPs Wasaike Salabiau and Ben Peni head the boys game that features top talent littered through the sides. South Island’s Oliver Lawry and St Paul’s Sio Kali also show the depth of ability in this matchup.

            Squads can be subject to change due to injury*

            All games are free to attend and live on Sky Sport!

             

            SQUADS

             

            16s AUCKLAND INVITATIONAL  VS AOTEAROA WHAANUI

            Auckland Invitational 16 Girls versus Rest of Aotearoa 16 Girls; Sunday 23 October, 12 pm. North Harbour Stadium

            AOTEAROA WHAANUI 16 GIRLS

            1. Billie Va’a (Wellington Orcas)
            2. Manaia Blake (Mid Central Vipers)
            3. Arlia Maccarthy (Northern Swords)
            4. Kayshana Rapana-Phillips (South Island Scorpions)
            5. Jayda Maniapoto (Wellington Orcas)
            6. Miria Faulkner – Luke (Northern Swords)
            7. Lialanie Muamua (South Island Scorpions)
            8. Molly Byford (Upper Central Stallions)
            9. Riana Le’afa-Paki (Wellington Orcas)
            10. Te Ngaroahiahi Rimoni (Wellington Orcas)
            11. Luca-Bella Ngatuere-Ongley (Wellington Orcas)
            12. Te Raukura Leafe (Wellington Orcas)
            13. Trinity Tauaneai (Wellington Orcas)
            14. Indiana Ronnie Russell-Lia (Wellington Orcas)
            15. Danica Talitonu (Mid Central Vipers)
            16. Tyali Raihe (Upper Central Stallions)
            17. Olive Connolly (South Island Scorpions)
            18. Bailey Rae Edwards (Northern Swords)

             

            AUCKLAND INVITATIONAL 16 GIRLS

            1. Tayla-Benet Masoe (Auckland Vulcans)
            2. Tiare-Anne Leauga (Akarana Falcons)
            3. Elizabeth Ngahe (Auckland Vulcans)
            4. Milahn Ieremia (Akarana Falcons)
            5. Tia’ane Tavita Fesolai (Akarana Falcons)
            6. Riley Pasese (Akarana Falcons)
            7. Danii-Nicole Gray (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
            8. Josinah Filisi Tauiliili (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
            9. Mele Feaomoengalu (Akarana Falcons)
            10. Mercedez Lisone siaea (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
            11. Leaony Macdonald Tuimauga (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
            12. Maeya Talamaivao (Akarana Falcons)
            13. Ashlee Matapo (Akarana Falcons)
            14. Mary Jane Taito (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
            15. Ivana Lauitiiti (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
            16. Monica Ben (Auckland Vulcans)
            17. Fualaau Poutoa (Auckland Vulcans)
            18. Mayann Ioane (Akarana Falcons)

             

            18S CLUBS V SCHOOLS

            New Zealand Schools Girls versus New Zealand Clubs Girls; Sunday 23 October, 2 pm. North Harbour Stadium

            18 GIRLS NZ CLUBS SQUAD:

            1. Tamisha Tulua (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
            2. Summer Van Gelder (Akarana Falcons)
            3. Paris Pickering(Akarana Falcons)
            4. Henillietta Lokotui (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
            5. Lily Newton (Auckland Vulcans)
            6. Milahn Situa (Auckland Vulcans)
            7. Tiana Thomson (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
            8. Kimoana Niupalau (Upper Central Stallions)
            9. Monica Samita (Akarana Falcons)
            10. Tafao Fa’aeaina Asaua (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
            11. Tatiana Finau (Akarana Falcons)
            12. Claudia Finau (Akarana Falcons)
            13. Alexis Tauaneai (Upper Central Stallions)
            14. Ronise Matini (Akarana Falcons)
            15. Taleenza Nelson (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
            16. Theresa Nasilai (Auckland Vulcans)
            17. Alianna Tonu’u (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
            18. Kokako Raki (Upper Central Stallions)
            19. Kyla Lynch Brown (South Island Scorpions)

             

             

            18 GIRLS NZ SCHOOLS SQUAD:

            1. Braxton Sorensen-McGee (Auckland Girls Grammar School)
            2. Violet Hiku (Manurewa High School)
            3. Giovanna Suani (Auckland Girls Grammar School)
            4. Kingslee Hohaia (Manurewa High School)
            5. Faith Tavita (Auckland Girls Grammar School)
            6. Sharnyze Pihema (Manurewa High School)
            7. Caitlyn-Jain Bushell (Auckland Girls Grammar School)
            8. Lose Kuli (Auckland Girls Grammar School)
            9. Chevy Brough (Manurewa High School)
            10. Cleo Sauaga (Auckland Girls Grammar School)
            11. Seriah Palepale (Auckland Girls Grammar School)
            12. June Westerlund (Manurewa High School)
            13. Paea Uiloa (Auckland Girls Grammar School)
            14. Jonesha Katipa-Blakelock (Manurewa High School)
            15. Latesha Mitchener (Auckland Girls Grammar School)
            16. Mia Jones (Auckland Girls Grammar School)
            17. Shanthie Lui (Southern Cross Campus)
            18. Vienna Lupe Alapae (Southern Cross Campus)
            19. Saylor Maletino (Manurewa High School)

             

            Auckland Invitational Boys 16s versus Aotearoa Whaanui Boys 16s; Monday 24 October, 2 pm. North Harbour Stadium

            SQUADS

            16s AUCKLAND INVITATIONAL VS AOTEAROA WHAANUI

            AOTEAROA WHAANUI 16 BOYS

            1. Meihana Pauling (South Island Scorpions)
            2. Xavier Lynch (South Island Scorpions)
            3. Chelden Hayward (South Island Scorpions)
            4. Jackson Stewart (South Island Scorpions)
            5. Genesis Sherlock (South Island Scorpions)
            6. Eli Bijl-Kakoi (South Island Scorpions)
            7. Maui Winitana-Patelesio (Wellington Orcas)
            8. Ezekiel Fanga’ieti (South Island Scorpions)
            9. Mangaroa Mark (Upper Central Stallions)
            10. Jake Rabarts (Upper Central Stallions)
            11. Ezekiel Paulo (South Island Scorpions)
            12. Sosaia Alatini (South Island Scorpions)
            13. Marley Igasan (Upper Central Stallions)
            14. Kyan Rosie (South Island Scorpions)
            15. Reihana Timms (Upper Central Stallions)
            16. Toby Gibson (South Island Scorpions)
            17. Adam Lawrence (Upper Central Stallions)
            18. Ryder Crosswell (Upper Central Stallions)

             

            AUCKLAND INVITATIONAL 16 BOYS

            1. Ernie Mahu-Delamere [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            2. Vitaliano-Roache [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            3. Taipari Wikitera [Akarana Falcons]
            4. Sosaia Antony Fatani Latu [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            5. Ezekiel Tavita [Auckland Vulcans]
            6. Tyrone Hurt-Pickering [Akarana Falcons]
            7. Haami Loza [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            8. Noah Hetutu-Davis [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            9. Kaawyn Patterson [Akarana Falcons]
            10. Joshua Totara Kopua [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            11. Te Paeroa Wi-Neera [Akarana Falcons]
            12. Dezman Laban [Akarana Falcons]
            13. Augustino Filipo [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            14. Austyn Ah Toon-Hotene [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            15. Joey Upoko [Akarana Falcons]
            16. Kanaan Talia Magele [Akarana Falcons]
            17. Eteuate Leilua [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            18. Compton Purcell [Akarana Falcons]

             

            18S CLUBS V SCHOOLS

            New Zealand Schools Boys versus New Zealand Clubs Boys; Monday 24 October, 4 pm. North Harbour Stadium

             

            18 BOYS NZ CLUBS SQUAD:

            1. Kyan Alo [Akarana Falcons]
            2. Raphael Sio [Akarana Falcons]
            3. Leka Halasima [Auckland Vulcans]
            4. Kayliss – Jess Fatialofa [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            5. Jarome Falemoe [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            6. Phranklyn Mano-Le-Mamea [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            7. Afaese Fa’avae [Wellington Orcas]
            8. Ben Peni [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            9. Makaia Tafua [South Island Scorpions]
            10. Jordan Chapman [Wellington Orcas]
            11. Devante Mihinui [Auckland Vulcans]
            12. Te Kaio Cranwell [South Island Scorpions]
            13. Tanner Stowers Smith [South Island Scorpions]
            14. Khalan Clyde [Akarana Falcons]
            15. Bob Iosefo [Auckland Vulcans]
            16. Francis Tuimauga [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            17. Samuela Vakadula [Mid Central Vipers]
            18. Alvin Chong Nee [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            19. Sitana Loamanu [Auckland Vulcans]

             

            18 BOYS NZ SCHOOLS SQUAD:

            1. Ngaheke Nepata (St Thomas of Canterbury)
            2. Malakai Cama (Rotorua Boys High School)
            3. Sio Kali (St Pauls College)
            4. Keisaia Su’a (St Pauls College)
            5. Waisake Salabiau (Rotorua Boys High School)
            6. William Piliu (St Pauls College)
            7. Oliver Lawry (St Thomas of Canterbury)
            8. Lamonye Matu (Southern Cross Campus)
            9. Malachi Tony (De La Salle College)
            10. Sione Tupou (Rotorua Boys High School)
            11. Alekolasimi Jones (St Pauls College)
            12. Jason Salalilo (St Thomas of Canterbury)
            13. Rodney Tuipolotu – Vea (De La Salle College)
            14. Allan Talataina-Malama (De La Salle College)
            15. Elijah Salesa Leaumoana (Southern Cross Campus)
            16. Zachariah Stephenson (St Pauls College)
            17. Noah Harmer – Campbell (St Thomas of Canterbury)
            18. Cooper Te Hau (St Thomas of Canterbury)
            19. Maraki Aumua (Rotorua Boys High School)

            NZRL would like to acknowledge the selection of Leti Jeff Samuela (De La Salle College) who, after an awesome Secondary Schools tournament was named in the NZ Schools team but has unfortunately been to withdraw due to injury.

             

            October 14 2022

            The 2022 Boys representative fixtures boast an extreme amount of top talent from across the motu. New Zealand Rugby League is proud to announce the return of the Clubs vs Schools match-up and the inaugural 16s Boys Auckland Invitational vs Aotearoa Whaanui. This 16s clash puts the top talent from around Aotearoa up against the melting pot that is Tāmaki Makaurau, whilst the 18s Clubs vs Schools fixture is a combination of the best players in both the NZRL Secondary Schools (SS) and Youth (YT) Tournaments.

            The 16s Auckland Invitation is headlined by Akarana Falcon and Youth Tournament MVP Kaawyn Patterson. A team that possesses strike across the park, centre Taipari Wikitera and winger Ezekiel Tavita were electric for their sides in the Youth Tournament. The Aotearoa Whaanui outfit is one dominated by the South Island Scorpions. Exciting young talent Ezekiel Faga’ieti leads the Southern side, whilst Wellington Orca Maui Winitana-Patelesio directs them around the park.

            Auckland Rugby League’s Thaine Ashford said, “The quality of rugby league across the Secondary Schools and Youth Tournaments has been exceptional.

            Plenty of players outside the Auckland Invitational 18 were unlucky to miss out, but that shows the quality of talent in the ARL competitions and pathways.”

            The Clubs vs Schools fixture is littered with outstanding talent across both teams. NZRL SS MVP Waisake Salabiau returns to the rugby league field alongside teammate Malakai Cama; they are joined by St Paul’s Sio Kali and South Island half Oliver Lawry. Not to be outdone, the School’s pack includes Malachi Tony, Elijah Salesa Leaumoana and YT Final MVP Rodney Tuipulotu-Vea. After a strong Youth Tournament, Counties contingent Kayliss Fatialofa, Phranklyn Mano-Le-Mamea, Jarome Falemoe and Ben Peni lead a versatile Clubs side. Scorpion Makaia Taufa slots in at dummy-half, and Team of the Tournament half Afaese Fa’avae leads the squad around the park.

            NZRL General Manager of Football & High-Performance Motu Tony stated, “The return of the National Secondary Schools and NZRL National Youth Tournaments, after a Covid-19 enforced hiatus, gave our rangatahi and rugby league community a fantastic opportunity to come together.

            “The tournaments showcased the enormous talent we have playing and participating in rugby league, and our inaugural female National Youth Tournament showed that the future of the Kiwi Ferns is bright and exciting.

            “The efforts of those who performed exceptionally well in our tournaments have been recognised. They will get another opportunity to connect and compete with the rugby league talent throughout the motu.

            I am excited about the talent we have that will compete in these fixtures and also proud that we can offer our young female players a representative opportunity for the first time.”

            All games are free to attend and live on Sky Sport!

             

            Auckland Invitational Boys 16s versus Aotearoa Whaanui Boys 16s; Monday 24 October, 2 pm. North Harbour Stadium

            SQUADS

            16s AUCKLAND INVITATIONAL VS AOTEAROA WHAANUI

            AOTEAROA WHAANUI 16 BOYS

            1. Meihana Pauling (South Island Scorpions)
            2. Xavier Lynch (South Island Scorpions)
            3. Chelden Hayward (South Island Scorpions)
            4. Jackson Stewart (South Island Scorpions)
            5. Genesis Sherlock (South Island Scorpions)
            6. Eli Bijl-Kakoi (South Island Scorpions)
            7. Maui Winitana-Patelesio (Wellington Orcas)
            8. Ezekiel Faga’ieti (South Island Scorpions)
            9. Mangaroa Mark (Upper Central Stallions)
            10. Jake Rabarts (Upper Central Stallions)
            11. Ezekiel Paulo (South Island Scorpions)
            12. Sosaia Alatini (South Island Scorpions)
            13. Marley Igasan (Upper Central Stallions)
            14. Kyan Rosie (South Island Scorpions)
            15. Reihana Timms (Upper Central Stallions)
            16. Toby Gibson (South Island Scorpions)
            17. Adam Lawrence (Upper Central Stallions)
            18. Ryder Crosswell (Mid Central Vipers)

             

            AUCKLAND INVITATIONAL 16 BOYS

            1. Ernie Mahu-Delamere [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            2. Vitaliano-Roache [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            3. Taipari Wikitera [Akarana Falcons]
            4. Sosaia Antony Fatani Latu [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            5. Ezekiel Tavita [Auckland Vulcans]
            6. Tyrone Hurt-Pickering [Akarana Falcons]
            7. Haami Loza [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            8. Noah Hetutu-Davis [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            9. Kaawyn Patterson [Akarana Falcons]
            10. Joshua Totara Kopua [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            11. Te Paeroa Wi-Neera [Akarana Falcons]
            12. Dezman Laban [Akarana Falcons]
            13. Augustino Filipo [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            14. Austyn Ah Toon-Hotene [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            15. Joey Upoko [Akarana Falcons]
            16. Kanaan Talia Magele [Akarana Falcons]
            17. Eteuate Leilua [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            18. Compton Purcell [Akarana Falcons]

             

            18S CLUBS V SCHOOLS

            New Zealand Schools Boys versus New Zealand Clubs Boys; Monday 24 October, 4 pm. North Harbour Stadium

             

            18 BOYS NZ CLUBS SQUAD:

            1. Kyan Alo [Akarana Falcons]
            2. Raphael Sio [Akarana Falcons]
            3. Leka Halasima [Auckland Vulcans]
            4. Kayliss – Jess Fatialofa [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            5. Jarome Falemoe [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            6. Phranklyn Mano-Le-Mamea [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            7. Afaese Fa’avae [Wellington Orcas]
            8. Ben Peni [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            9. Makaia Tafua [South Island Scorpions]
            10. Jordan Chapman [Wellington Orcas]
            11. Devante Mihinui [Auckland Vulcans]
            12. Te Kaio Cranwell [South Island Scorpions]
            13. Tanner Stowers Smith [South Island Scorpions]
            14. Khalan Clyde [Akarana Falcons]
            15. Bob Iosefo [Auckland Vulcans]
            16. Francis Tuimauga [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            17. Samuela Vakadula [Mid Central Vipers]
            18. Alvin Chong Nee [Counties Manukau Stingrays]
            19. Sitana Loamanu [Auckland Vulcans]

             

            18 BOYS NZ SCHOOLS SQUAD:

            1. Ngaheke Nepata (St Thomas of Canterbury)
            2. Malakai Cama (Rotorua Boys High School)
            3. Sio Kali (St Pauls College)
            4. Keisaia Su’a (St Pauls College)
            5. Waisake Salabiau (Rotorua Boys High School)
            6. William Piliu (St Pauls College)
            7. Oliver Lawry (St Thomas of Canterbury)
            8. Lamonye Matu (Southern Cross Campus)
            9. Malachi Tony (De La Salle College)
            10. Sione Tupou (Rotorua Boys High School)
            11. Alekolasimi Jones (St Pauls College)
            12. Jason Salalilo (St Thomas of Canterbury)
            13. Rodney Tuipolotu – Vea (De La Salle College)
            14. Allan Talataina-Malama (De La Salle College)
            15. Elijah Salesa Leaumoana (Southern Cross Campus)
            16. Zachariah Stephenson (St Pauls College)
            17. Noah Harmer – Campbell (St Thomas of Canterbury)
            18. Cooper Te Hau (St Thomas of Canterbury)
            19. Maraki Aumua (Rotorua Boys High School)

            NZRL would like to acknowledge the selection of Leti Jeff Samuela (De La Salle College) who, after an awesome Secondary Schools tournament was named in the NZ Schools team but has unfortunately been to withdraw due to injury.

            The final game for the U18S NZRL Boy’s Youth Tournament saw Counties Manukau Stingrays face off against South Island Scorpions at Puketawhero park, Rotorua.

            The Stingrays dominated possession early as they continued to forced errors in the South Island’s half of the field, resulting in 4 tries in the first half, two of them coming from powerful backrower Rodney Tuipulotu-Vea.

            The second half saw Counties Manukau opened the scoring as Rodney Tuipulotu-Vea completed a hat-trick. With their backs against the wall, a spirited Scorpions side tried to mount a comeback and were rewarded with a try however it was too little, too late with Counties Manukau Stingrays claiming the U18’s championship in dominating fashion with the score being 28-12.

            Tries:

            Counties Manukau – Rodney Tuipulotu-Vea x3, Phranklyn Mano-Le-Mamea x2, Hirini Holmes, Jarome Falemoe, Cameron Tuipulotu

            South Island – Makaia Tafua, Alofa Faaiva

            Conversions

            Counties Manukau – Phranklyn Mano-Le-Mamea 2/8

            South Island – Jacob Nyman 2/2

            12 October 2022

            Counties have repeated their efforts from the Girl’s tournament, seeing both age groups advance to their respective grand finals.

            The 16’s match-up was set after dominating victories by the Akarana Falcons and the Counties Manukau Stingrays. The Stingrays outfit put Auckland to the sword, winning 26-4, while the Falcons were able to outlast the South Island Scorpions 20-8. The Auckland derby will be played on field one at 11:00 am

            The final in the 18’s grade sees Counties again, this time facing a South Island side hot off a 42-14 drubbing of Auckland. South Island boasts a talented squad, including Te Kaio Cranwell, Tanner Stowers Smith and Makaia Tafua, who were selected in the 2022 NZRL Youth Tournament Team of the Tournament. South Island 20’s half Oliver Lawry and St Thomas fullback Ngaheke Nepata round out a robust Southern outfit.

            De La Salle contingent Kayliss Fatialofa, Rodney Tuipulotu and Ieti Samuelu make up a solid and determined Counties outfit. Tournament MVP Ben Peni will look to continue his fine form and help his side capture the Youth Tournament trophy. This side also features wing Jarome Falemoa, Phranklyn Mano Le Mamea and Francis Tuimauga, who were all named in the Tournament Team.

            Make sure to tune in on the NZRL Youtube channel to catch all of the finals action live from Rotorua’s Puketawhero Park!

            16s Grand Final

            Counties Manukau v Akarana Falcons 11:00 am – Puketawhero Park

            18s Grand Final

            Counties Manukau v South Island Scorpions 01:00 pm – Puketawhero Park

            8 October 2022

            After the return of the New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) National Secondary Schools Tournament (NSST) and the inaugural NZRL National Girls Youth Tournament, New Zealand Rugby League is proud to announce the first-ever 16’s and 18’s Girls representative fixtures. The two-week-long tournaments displayed the growth in the female game, and these fixtures will be another step in the pathway to becoming the next generation of Kiwi Fern talent.

            The 16’s age group will see an Auckland Invitational team take on Aotearoa Whaanui, with the match-up displaying the best young talent from across the motu, Whilst in the 18’s, The girls will play out the Clubs vs Schools fixture that began in 2020.

            The 16’s game will showcase the talent and depth in the girl’s game. The Wellington cohort of Billie Va’a, Jayda Maniapoto and Trinity Tauaneai headline an exciting and balanced Aotearoa Whaanui, which has strike all across the park.

            Finals MVP Josinah Filisi Tauiliili leads her Auckland team out after an outstanding performance in the 16’s grand final. She is joined by teammate Danii-Nicole Gray and the exciting Tayla-Benet Masoe, who played at the back for the Auckland Vulcans.

            Auckland Rugby League’s Head of Schools and Female Pathways, Mary Passi, commented on the fixture, “With the increase of numbers in our female game here in Auckland, it’s another great opportunity for our Auckland players to test themselves against the best talent from around Aotearoa. It’s great to see several Auckland players selected across all teams.”

            The 18 Clubs vs Schools clash has a plethora of talent littered throughout the fixture. NSST MVP Sharnyze Pihema headlines the School’s squad, which possess many players from both tournaments. School’s fullback Braxton Sorensen-McGee was a standout in both tournaments, as she also led the Counties 16’s to a grand final win. Giovanna Suani and NZRL 16’s Youth Tournament MVP and top try scorer Seriah Palepale also round out a strong Schools squad.

            The NZ Clubs outfit can also show off star power throughout their 19. Youth Tournament MVP Tamisha Tulua was outstanding out the back for Counties, and the edge back row of Tatiana and Claudia Finau caused havoc on their way to the 18’s title. Locking up the middle is Upper Central’s Alexis Tauaneai, who was a problem for every team in the competition, using her strength, footwork and distribution ability to be dangerous every time she touched the ball.

            Head of Women’s Rugby League, Luisa Avaiki, said, “New Zealand Rugby League intends to enhance female participation and opportunities in our youth grades. It has been such a pleasure to see the success of the inaugural NZRL Girls National Youth Tournament. “

            “To have teams from all across the motu attend and represent their zones and districts has been an exciting start to the growth and potential of the youth girls space.”

            “The talent on display throughout the week was extraordinary and impressive. It maintains how vital these pathways are for any aspiring young girl who wants to reach higher levels of representation.  It is an exciting time for the female game.”

            Congratulations to all players and staff selected!

            Get down to North Harbour Stadium on October 23, or watch all the action live on Sky Sport!

            Auckland Invitational 16 Girls versus Aotearoa Whaanui 16 Girls; Sunday 23 October, 12 pm. North Harbour Stadium

             

            New Zealand Schools Girls versus New Zealand Clubs Girls; Sunday 23 October, 2 pm. North Harbour Stadium

            SQUADS

            16s AUCKLAND INVITATIONAL VS AOTEAROA WHAANUI

             

            AOTEAROA WHAANUI 16 GIRLS

            1. Billie Va’a (Wellington Orcas)
            2. Manaia Blake (Mid Central Vipers)
            3. Arlia Maccarthy (Northern Swords)
            4. Kayshana Rapana-Phillips (South Island Scorpions)
            5. Jayda Maniapoto (Wellington Orcas)
            6. Miria Faulkner – Luke (Northern Swords)
            7. Lialanie Muamua (South Island Scorpions)
            8. Molly Byford (Upper Central Stallions)
            9. Riana Le’afa-Paki (Wellington Orcas)
            10. Te Ngaroahiahi Rimoni (Wellington Orcas)
            11. Luca-Bella Ngatuere-Ongley (Wellington Orcas)
            12. Te Raukura Leafe (Wellington Orcas)
            13. Trinity Tauaneai (Wellington Orcas)
            14. Indiana Ronnie Russell-Lia (Wellington Orcas)
            15. Danica Talitonu (Mid Central Vipers)
            16. Tyali Raihe (Upper Central Stallions)
            17. Olive Connolly (South Island Scorpions)
            18. Bailey Rae Edwards (Northern Swords)

             

            AUCKLAND INVITATIONAL 16 GIRLS

            1. Tayla-Benet Masoe (Auckland Vulcans)
            2. Tiare-Anne Leauga (Akarana Falcons)
            3. Elizabeth Ngahe (Auckland Vulcans)
            4. Milahn Ieremia (Akarana Falcons)
            5. Tia’ane Tavita Fesolai (Akarana Falcons)
            6. Riley Pasese (Akarana Falcons)
            7. Danii-Nicole Gray (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
            8. Josinah Filisi Tauiliili (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
            9. Mele Feaomoengalu (Akarana Falcons)
            10. Mercedez Lisone siaea (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
            11. Leaony Macdonald Tuimauga (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
            12. Maeya Talamaivao (Akarana Falcons)
            13. Ashlee Matapo (Akarana Falcons)
            14. Mary Jane Taito (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
            15. Ivana Lauitiiti (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
            16. Monica Ben (Auckland Vulcans)
            17. Fualaau Poutoa (Auckland Vulcans)
            18. Mayann Ioane (Akarana Falcons)

            18S CLUBS V SCHOOLS

             

            18 GIRLS NZ CLUBS SQUAD:

            1. Tamisha Tulua (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
            2. Summer Van Gelder (Akarana Falcons)
            3. Paris Pickering(Akarana Falcons)
            4. Henillietta Lokotui (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
            5. Lily Newton (Auckland Vulcans)
            6. Milahn Situa (Auckland Vulcans)
            7. Tiana Thomson (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
            8. Kimoana Niupalau (Upper Central Stallions)
            9. Monica Samita (Akarana Falcons)
            10. Tafao Fa’aeaina Asaua (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
            11. Tatiana Finau (Akarana Falcons)
            12. Claudia Finau (Akarana Falcons)
            13. Alexis Tauaneai (Upper Central Stallions)
            14. Ronise Matini (Akarana Falcons)
            15. Taleenza Nelson (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
            16. Theresa Nasilai (Auckland Vulcans)
            17. Alianna Tonu’u (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
            18. Kokako Raki (Upper Central Stallions)
            19. Kyla Lynch Brown (South Island Scorpions)

             

             

            18 GIRLS NZ SCHOOLS SQUAD:

            1. Braxton Sorensen-McGee (Auckland Girls Grammar School)
            2. Violet Hiku (Manurewa High School)
            3. Giovanna Suani (Auckland Girls Grammar School)
            4. Kingslee Hohaia (Manurewa High School)
            5. Faith Tavita (Auckland Girls Grammar School)
            6. Sharnyze Pihema (Manurewa High School)
            7. Caitlyn-Jain Bushell (Auckland Girls Grammar School)
            8. Lose Kuli (Auckland Girls Grammar School)
            9. Chevy Brough (Manurewa High School)
            10. Cleo Sauaga (Auckland Girls Grammar School)
            11. Seriah Palepale (Auckland Girls Grammar School)
            12. June Westerlund (Manurewa High School)
            13. Paea Uiloa (Auckland Girls Grammar School)
            14. Jonesha Katipa-Blakelock (Manurewa High School)
            15. Latesha Mitchener (Auckland Girls Grammar School)
            16. Mia Jones (Auckland Girls Grammar School)
            17. Shanthie Lui (Southern Cross Campus)
            18. Vienna Lupe Alapae (Southern Cross Campus)
            19. Saylor Maletino (Manurewa High School)

             

            3 October 2022

            2022 sees the return of the prestigious Pirtek Volunteer of the Month award, where our rugby league community gets a chance to see their hard mahi recognised across the motu. This award is gifted to a volunteer who displays the core values of NZRL’s Kiwi Way: being family first, innovative, inclusive, respectful, respectful and humble. We are excited to announce that the first winner in 2022 and the month of September is David Pohika.

            David is the epitome of someone who loves the game of rugby league. Coming from Hauraki, a rugby heartland, Pokiha has worked tirelessly to grow our game in the area. For the last two years, David has gathered a group of boys to train every week, even though it is highly unlikely for the Tigers to find another club to play against.

            Despite this, both Pokiha and the boys he trains, still show up regularly to practice and play the game that they love.

            His passion and dedication for the sport is unmatched in the Hauraki region and is a well-deserved winner of this award.

            Pirtek CEO Chris Bourke commented on the September winner, “The Hauraki Tigers are very privileged to have David Pokiha playing a pivotal role in their club. We love that Dave is challenging the status quo in a Rugby prominent region.

            Although struggling to get games together we appreciate that Dave perseveres to ensure those who are passionate about playing Rugby League get that opportunity.

            David is a very well deserving winner of the Pirtek Volunteer of the Month, and keep up the great work”

            To nominate, please fill out the form below!

            Pirtek Volunteer of the Month Submission Form

            Who is your Pirtek Volunteer of the Month?
            • Drop files here or
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              Counties Manukau Stingrays secures their first win over Waikato Mana 38-30.

              Two minutes in, Counties struck first as winger Mavae Manuika intercepts a pass and steams down the right edge towards the try line to open the scoring account for Counties. Counties wasted no time adding another four to their account through hooker Penehuro Toai who powered over the Waikato defenders stretching over the try line.

              The home team were desperate to get some points on the board and found it through Hemopo Te Koi with a breakthrough run down the middle towards the try line.

              Counties hit back again through winger Manuika who flew down the right edge to score his second for the day. Moments later, Waikato’s hooker Taane Paki kicks a high ball for winger Aholelei Ofa Katoa to catch and add another four towards the Waikatos score account.

              With two minutes left in the first half, big man Manu Faitialofa powers through, knocking Waikato defenders out of his way to score and put Counties further in front. Counties lead 20 – 12 at halftime.

              Waikato drew first blood in the second half, as centre player Taylor Lee burrowed his way over to score. Counties’ momentum carried on from the first half scoring three more tries through fullback Klayton Waikato and two from William Stowers.

              With the score margin increasing, Waikato continued to push on, leading to back-to-back tries from winger Mahuta Ngataki and Jordan Grace with a chip and catch run towards to try line.

              Counties held on to the lead till the final whistle ending the game in their favour 38-30.

              It was a hard day at the office for Waikato Mana as Akarana ran rampant in a 68-6 victory.

              Akarana started strong with seven tries in the first half. Winger Jeremiah Poutu drew first blood for Akarana with a try on the left edge in the first 5 minutes of the game. Followed by another try from Brody Tamarua, who powered through the Waikato defence, stretching over the line to put Akarana further in front.

              With 10 minutes to go for the first half, Waikato were desperate to put points on the board before heading into the sheds. Benefiting from an error from Akarana, Waikato saw Taane Paki desperately kick and chase the ball through the strong Akarana defence to ground the ball over the line.

              Akarana wasted no time hitting back and scored their 7th try by Matthew Whyte, adding to his team’s growing try tally, and Tamarua converting to increase Akaranas lead to 40-6.

              Akaranas momentum continued into the first few minutes of the second half as Solomon Vasuvulagi easily barged his way through defence towards the try line.

              With the score margin increasing, Akarana continued aggressiveness, leading to 4 more tires in the second half. Key player Francis Leger set up another try for his winger Poutu, scoring an identical try from the first half on the right edge this time. Minutes later saw their hooker quick play from dummy half over the line.

              Waikato’s defence looked tired as Akarana battered them with attacking prowess and try after try. With 5min left till the hooter, Waikato fought hard, but Akarana were too aggressive and saw their winger Poutu with an extraordinary run, scoring his hat trick to end the game.

              A complete performance from the Akarana Falcons saw the final scoring being 68-6 to the Auckland side.

              7 September 2022

              Niue Rugby League and The Dragons representative team are set to face each other for the first time in five years, playing a curtain raiser for the NZRL Men’s Premiership. Their rematch takes place at Mt Smart on Saturday the 10th, kicking off at 11:00am.

              Founded in 2013 by Counties Manukau Rugby League (CMRL), the Dragons are an Asian representative team that consists of players from the Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japanese and Indian descent. As mentioned, the team hasn’t played in five years, last playing against Niue in the Cabramatta International Rugby League 9’s Tournament in Australia of which Niue prevailed.

              Head Coach, Tony Hsiung commented saying, “the boys are excited to be given this opportunity and know it won’t be easy, but everyone is preparing well and we think it will be a good contest.”

              Ethnic Rugby League (ERL) was designed to provide an opportunity for the growing Asian population living in Auckland a chance to play rugby league. It offers a welcoming and controlled pathway for player development and participation in the code with the goal of increasing grassroots membership.

              Counties Manukau Rugby League General Manager Casey King says, “We just want a platform for all cultures to enjoy rugby league and that is our focus with our ERL and especially this clash. It’s a great opportunity to create inclusivity within our rugby league community.”

              Niue Rugby League will be looking to develop some local and young talent with a team of talented Fox premiership players as well as a few from Australia. The team includes ARL team of the year member Daetyn Tanuvasa, Magpies five eight Raven Togiafofoa, Akarana 20s half Doux Kauhiva and Richmond captain Casey Lafele.

              Both sides will be looking to get the better of the other in this clash of cultures.

               

              DRAGONS VS NIUE – 11:00AM KICKOFF MT SMART FIELD #2

              The NZRL Secondary Schools finals saw South Auckland’s De La Salle College crowned as Aotearoa’s champions, convincingly defeating Rotorua Boys 42-6. De La Salle raced to an early lead through left centre Kaylise Fatialofa, who scored two quick tries in the opening minutes. After finding success on the left edge, La Salle kept up the pressure which resulted in Rodney Tuipulotu-Vea scoring a double for himself as La Salle started to pile on the points. In the second stanza, the right edge of Rotorua Boys led to points as MJ Sa’olele Tavae, and Haami Herbert-Loza found success down that channel. A late consolation try for Rotorua Boys saw them on the score sheet as De La Salle scored 42-6 winners.

               

              DE LA SALLE 42

              TRIES: Haami HERBERT-LOZA, MJ SA’OLELE TAVAE x2, Kaylise FATIALOFA x2, Rodney TUIPULOTU-VEA x2, Jeshua MAA-NELSON

              GOALS: Phranklyn MANO LEMAMEA

               

              ROTORUA BOYS 6

              TRIES: Darryl WALKER

              GOALS: Maraki AUMUA

               

              MVP – Kaylise FATIALOFA

               

              In the Girls Championship, Auckland Girls Grammar and Manurewa played out a nail-biter, with the South Auckland school holding on to win 8-4. Tries from competition MVP Sharnyze Pihema and Team of the Tournament second rower June Westerland allowed Manurewa to get out to an 8-0 lead that they never relinquished. Seriah Palepale scored for Auckland Girls to make it a game in the second half, but the Manurewa outfit held on to secure the Championship Title.

               

              MANUREWA HIGH SCHOOL 8

              TRIES: Sharnyze PIHEMA, June WESTERLAND

              GOALS:

               

              AUCKLAND GIRLS GRAMMAR 4

              TRIES: Seriah PALEPALE

              GOALS:

               

              MVP – June WESTERLAND

               

              The Boys Championship saw a rematch of yesterday’s fixture as Manurewa high school took on Te Whanau a Noa. The Composite side started quickly out of the blocks but their inability to turn pressure into points returned to haunt them. Two quick tries from the South Auckland school saw them go up 10-0 towards the mid-point of the first half. The second half saw much of the same as Manurewa were first to score and never let up their advantage, taking out the competition 18 points to four.

               

              MANUREWA HIGH SCHOOL 18

              TRIES: Colwyn KAUMAVAE, Frankie PAYNE, Padilla LEMOE, Tiu LEILUA TAMALEAOA

              GOALS: Leon RICHARD x1

               

              TE WHANAU A NOA 4

              TRIES: Callum WARD

              GOALS:

               

              MVP – Christian AUVAA

              August 22, 2022

              New Zealand’s biggest grassroots tournament is only a week away. The New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) Secondary Schools Competition’s three-year hiatus ends next Tuesday as schools from across the motu converge on Rotorua’s Puketawhero Park. Teams have anticipated the tournament’s return and will be excited to test themselves against the best rugby league talent nationwide.

              With the last competition in 2018, 2022 brings new schools, new teams, a new host and a fresh look for several tournament regulars.

              The competition hosts, Western Heights HS, will be competing for the first time in 2022 and will be looking to impact the tournament. Many of the school’s players are not new to the game, currently representing rugby league clubs in Rotorua and the wider Bay of Plenty region.

              Composite teams are competing for the first time as Taikura, and Te Ōraka Kairangi enter the fray this September.

              Taikura is comprised of kaupapa from Wharekura, in the Waikato region. Wharekura comes under the korowai of Nga Kura a Iwi which is a National Body for Wharekura and Kura Kaupapa. Taikura 2022 involves Te Wharekura o Rakaumangamanga, Te Wharekura o Nga Taiatea and Te Wharekura o Kirikiriroa and will have three teams competing over the week.

              Te Ōraka Kairangi is a composite team made up of Canterbury-based schools; Kaiapoi HS, Avonside Girls, and Rangiora HS. This team will compete in the first-ever Girl’s Championship as the first female side repping the South Island.

              2022 will be a historic year for St. Bernards College, located in Lower Hutt, as they enter their inaugural competition. The Wellington-based school has produced talents such as Issac Luke and Ben Matulino and will now look to stamp its mark on the 2022 NZRL secondary schools.

              Tauranga Boys are also new to the tournament, joining Western Heights and St Bernards as the competition newcomers. Tauranga Boys was home to Bodene Thompson, who played 197 games in the NRL, including 107 for the Vodafone Warriors.

              Auckland’s De La Salle College enter the tournament’s premier division after only assembling a first XIII team last year. In 18 months, the South Auckland college went from a newly created division two team to Auckland runners-up in the premier division. The NZRL Secondary Schools competition will be an opportunity for De La Salle to avenge their finals defeat.

              Two games a day will be live-streamed on nzrl.co.nz, NZRL to release schedule in due course.

              Stay with us for more NZRL Secondary Schools news and stories and watch the finals on September 3rd live on Sky Sport 4!

               

              *Draws to be released by NZRL tomorrow*

               

              For any media or interview requests, please contact:

               

              Nooroa Takairangi– NZRL Communications Executive
              M: 0272537981

              E: Nooroa.Takairangi@nzrl.co.nz

               

              Or

               

              Sophie Wills – GM Communications

              M: 021889362

              E: sophie.wills@nzrl.co.nz

               

               

              August 11, 2022

              In collaboration with Auckland Rugby League (ARL), New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) will present representative games for boys and girls in the 16s and 18s age groups.

              The 16s age group will feature an inaugural ‘Auckland’ versus ‘Rest of New Zealand’ contest whilst the ‘Clubs vs Schools’ match-up returns for their 18s counterparts. These games will be played in Auckland over labour weekend, the 23rd and 24th of October and will consist of the best young talent across the motu.

              The 16s Auckland teams will consist of players from the ARL competition, Region of Origin development programme and representative teams that include; Akarana, Counties-Manukau and Auckland. The ‘Rest of New Zealand’ squads will be selected from Zonal teams that consist of Northland, Upper Central, Mid Central, Wellington and South Island.

              ARL’s Football Development and Programmes Manager Viggo Rasmussen had this to say, “Auckland Rugby League is extremely excited to test ourselves against the best rangatahi talent in our county. The 16s age grade is a significant area for us, as we focus on building pathways and attractive development pathways for our juniors.”

              The 18’s representative clash sees the ‘Clubs vs Schools’ return after a year hiatus and will include the debut of a girl’s match. NZRL will select the Schools team from their performances at the NZRL National Secondary Schools Tournament, which runs from the 30th of August to the 3nd of September. Clubs squads will be selected from the 16s and 18s NZRL National Youth Tournaments that will take place from the 4th to the 12th of October.

              NZRL General Manager of Football and High Performance Motu Tony added, “NZRL has focused on developing the female game, and presenting a girls 18’s Clubs vs. Schools match is another step towards enhancing the wāhine space. This event offers our young women an opportunity not seen before, creating more pathways for females to develop their game.”

              “As for the boys, the Clubs vs Schools match-up was a huge success in 2020, and we are looking to build off that this year. A plethora of young talent have found homes in NRL clubs from the previous contest, showing a genuine pathway rangtahi can take towards the professional game.”

               

              Fixtures:  

               

              Auckland U16 Boys vs. Rest of New Zealand U16 Boys

              Auckland U16 Girls vs. Rest of New Zealand U16 Girls

              New Zealand Schools Girls vs. New Zealand Clubs Girls

              New Zealand Schools Boys vs. New Zealand Clubs Boys

              August 10 2022

              As seen on Sunlive.co.nz

              The Papamoa Bulldogs Rugby League & Sports Club has overcome incredible odds this season.

              From being on the brink of disappearing with a lack of team players, the team has fully turned things around and made it into tomorrow’s grand final of the Waiariki Rugby League Competition.  

              Earlier this year in March, the team was battling to recruit players to keep the game and club alive.

              To fundraise and create awareness for the club’s survival, Papamoa Bulldog players carried tetraplegic Bryce Dinneen up the Papamoa Hills.

              Engaging the community and league supporters with the event, this was the start of the team’s revival.

              “On the Tuesday training following the event we had 26 players turn up for training…that was the start of our journey,” says co-caption Teia Dunster.

              “We’ve just hung in there and managed to get a team and we’ve actually gone through the season with only losing two games in the whole season.”

              Support and success

              The Papamoa Bulldog boys have been overwhelmed with the support they’ve received from the community, says Teia.

              Teia gave special to co-captain Daryl Thomas and coach Johnny Kelly for being key players in the team’s underdog journey.

              “He’s [Johnny] been the rock of the team who just stayed strong.”

              Tomorrow’s grand final, on August 6, will see the Papamoa Bulldogs take on Tauhara Te Maunga Rugby League & Sports club at Puketewhero Park, Rotorua, with kick-off 1pm.

              “The jobs not finished yet,” says Teia. “The boys are still wanting to keep working hard until we can hopefully come away with a win.”

              The Papamoa Bulldogs invites everyone to go along and support them, with the team far from losing their bark or bite, continuing their team chant: “Doggies are you ready, ready!”

              “Six boys from last year’s team that played the full season with the Papamoa Bulldogs never won a game. They went through a pretty tough season and for them to have this feeling right now, it’s a pretty amazing.”

              August 8, 2022

              2022 sees the return of the prestigious Pirtek Volunteer of the Month award, where our rugby league community gets a chance to see their hard mahi recognised across the motu. This award is gifted to a volunteer who displays the core values of NZRL’s Kiwi Way: being family first, innovative, inclusive, respectful, respectful and humble. We are excited to announce that the first winner in 2022 and the month of July is Narrisa Fraser.

              For many years, Narrisa has supported the Wainuiomata Lions in every way she can. Fraser splits her time supporting the Lions junior teams, organising fundraisers and end-of-year prizegivings.

              Fraser’s mahi goes on and off the rugby league field, from setting up junior fields to managing sausage sizzles and club raffles. Everything she does outside of her everyday club commitments is to ensure tamariki thrive in the area.

              A lot of Narrisa’s efforts go unnoticed around the club but are essential in keeping the foundation of the Wainuiomata Lions strong.

              Pirtek CEO Chris Bourke commented on Narrisa’s win, “longevity and completing the small tasks are key qualities of our rugby league volunteers, to ensure as many people as possible can participate and enjoy our amazing game.”

              “The Wainuiomata Lions are very privileged to have Narrisa on board to go the extra mile, supporting all activities within their club.”

              As with most volunteers, Narrisa takes on these crucial roles for her club along with her own family commitments. Narrisa is another very worthy recipient of the Pirtek Volunteer of the Month.”

              Congratulations Narrisa!

              Pirtek Volunteer of the Month Submission Form

              Who is your Pirtek Volunteer of the Month?
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                3rd August, 2022

                as seen on Otago Daily Times.

                 

                A big nervous smile envelops Anya Clark’s face when she thinks about running out at Mt Smart Stadium tonight.

                 

                The year 12 St Hilda’s Collegiate School pupil will take the field for the South Island Scorpions 16s in the curtain-raiser for the Warriors match against the Melbourne Storm.

                They will play Auckland 16s.

                “It is pretty nerve-racking,” she beamed.

                “I find it so exciting. I’ve never really seen the country up there before and going on a plane is so exciting.”

                Yep, you read that right. The thought of a big crowd of curious onlookers rated second to the adventure of flying to Auckland.

                It will be just her second trip to the city. The first was for the New Zealand Rugby League nines under-16 tournament.

                The 16-year-old fullback shone and was named in the tournament team.

                She impressed again during the Otago 16s tournament and made the longlist and eventually the squad for the South Island Scorpions.

                She is also a gun motocross rider, although she swatted away praise for her effort in winning the South Island women’s cross-country motocross championship in mud and snow.

                “Oh, motocross is just a hobby.”

                Her real passion is for tackling. She is an evasive runner but it is bringing opponents crashing down that gives her the most joy.

                She has been doing jiu jitsu since she was 7 and loves the close-quarter contact.

                Anya enjoys rugby as well and plays second five for the school first XV.

                “I like rugby league better, I think. It is more exciting and there are less stoppages in the game. But don’t get me wrong, I love rugby.”

                Anya might have to learn to love rugby even more, though.

                “Next year I won’t be eligible for under-16s. They are trying to get an under-18s team [up and running], but there is nothing and it is really sad because I don’t know what I’ll be doing next year.”

                25th July 2022 – By Will Evans

                Died-in-the-wool Cantabrian Reon Edwards received the highest of honours at last weekend’s New Zealand Rugby League AGM, becoming just the seventh person in the past seven years to receive an NZRL life membership.

                Edwards joined recent Canterbury stalwarts such as John Coffey (2018) and Frank Endacott (2020) in having the honour bestowed upon them from the national body.

                “It’s a huge privilege, having been involved in the game for 42 years now,” Edwards says.

                “You don’t set out to be recognised for a life membership, you just follow your passion and I’ve been fortunate to find myself in some senior roles where I’ve been able to influence – hopefully in a positive way – the game. It’s been a great journey so far.”

                Edwards first pulled on a pair of boots for Marist-Western Suburbs as a five-year-old, later played for Eastern Suburbs, won a CRL premiership with Halswell in 2003 and represented Canterbury Māori .

                After calling time on his playing career, Edwards’ path in sports administration began with a place on the Marist-Western Suburbs committee. From there, he served on the Southern Zone board from 2009-13 and the CRL board from 2012-15 – the latter during a vital and transformative period for the organisation.

                “Where I was with my professional career, and I had some governance roles outside of rugby league as well, I enjoyed the administration but also the governance roles in business,” he explains.

                “And I enjoy the business of sport – not necessarily just rugby league, it really interests me. We all have similar challenges, whether it’s rugby league, netball or union.

                “Helping Canterbury Rugby League with the 100-year celebrations (in 2012), that was a big event. It was a transitional period, because we moved from being run like a committee, to my role being to create some more governance within the structure of Canterbury Rugby League.

                “We then embarked on a three-year strategic plan, and that was the first time a strategic plan had been implemented in the game here in Canterbury. From there we worked on building some good capability around the board table and it’s continued to grow from there. We’ve had some good people come in after me, quality directors, which is really good to see.”

                 

                Edwards accepted a position on the New Zealand Rugby League board in 2015. At the time, the Kiwis were Four Nations champions before carving out a drought-breaking Anzac Test triumph and the Kiwi Ferns – only recently coming under the NZRL umbrella – were receiving unprecedented, well overdue exposure ahead of the 2017 men’s and women’s World Cups, of which New Zealand was installed as a co-host.

                Edwards took over as chair of the NZRL board in September 2017 – just prior to the World Cup. While the Kiwi Ferns performed superbly in reaching the final, the Kiwis’ jarring quarter-final exit ensured a demanding period for the national administration.

                 

                “The game was in a bit of a state of crisis following the World Cup,” Edwards recalls.

                “It was a stressful, challenging time for the game. Coming into the role as the new chair, it was a massive challenge – but hugely rewarding as well.

                “I’m proud of the fact that we got the organisation through that tough time, we reset the organisation with the review, reset the management and coaching staff, and now NZRL have got some excellent leadership in place.

                “It was probably what the game needed at the time and we were able to take advantage of that opportunity to turn things around. Now we’re in a great position financially and have set a platform for a stronger game. Not just at high-performance Kiwi and Kiwi Ferns level, but we’ve got the bones of a really strong structure for the game moving forward.

                “We’ve still got challenges at a grassroots level, but I think we’ve got the right people and the right foundations to build on.”

                 

                Edwards became a director on the International Rugby League board in 2018 – and he remains New Zealand’s representative on that board after stepping down from his NZRL posts last year.

                With international rugby league essentially put on ice for two seasons and the England-hosted 2021 RLWC controversially postponed by 12 months by COVID-19, Edwards again finds himself in a key administrative role at a crucial juncture.

                According to Edwards, the years ahead are about making up for lost time – both for the game’s historical inaction and the circumstances forced upon the code by the global pandemic more recently. He has not illusions about the scope of the job ahead but is positive about the direction world rugby league is headed.

                “International Rugby League is reliant on one source of income: the Rugby League World Cup. We need to see the game generate new revenue streams and channels,” he stresses.

                “It’s about trying to build a good four-year program so we can go and promote that international content to sponsors, so then it can become a sustainable business with multiple revenue streams. We can put that back into the game and the international body becomes a solid support mechanism for the emerging nations.

                “The first Rugby League World Cup was in 1954 and the first rugby union World Cup was in 1987, so we’ve missed a whole lot of opportunities during that time. And in the last World Cup in 2017 we made a profit of $7 million – the rugby union World Cup (in 2019) made over $300 million.

                 

                “Unfortunately, our game has had some opportunities over the years that we haven’t taken advantage of. That’s not to say we can’t grow the international game, but we’re very much at a ground zero level at the moment and there’s a lot of work to do in that space.

                “In terms of my role on the international board, it’s just been assisting the audit and risk committee and making sure first and foremost getting through the COVID period, keeping the international body afloat and getting us through tot the next World Cup. Then we’ve got some certainty for revenue and income for the next four years and we can start to build an international calendar and commercialise that.”

                While Edwards is a heartbeat away from the important decisions being made at rugby league’s highest levels, the mark of the humble 47-year-old’s passion and unwavering diligence for the game he loves can be summed up by his ongoing commitment to grassroots footy.

                Retiring as NZRL chair has freed up some time – which Edwards has put into lending Papanui Tigers a hand.

                “When I came off the (NZRL) board last year I said to (former CRL CEO) Duane (Fyfe), ‘tell me who’s in need of some help there because I want to jump in and help one of the clubs – not necessarily one I’ve had an involvement with previously – but I think I’ve got a bit to offer’.

                “So Duane suggested I reached out to Papanui – I went to Papanui High School, I’ve got a bit of a connection there growing up on that side of town – and it’s been a lot of fun engaging with the committee at the club, and help guide them along on a new journey.

                “Just resetting their governance practices, creating a bit more structure around policies and procedures. We’ve set a three-year plan and they’re on a good journey. It’s their centenary year too, which  is exciting.

                Canterbury Rugby League CEO Malcolm Humm paid tribute to Edwards in the wake of his life membership recognition.

                “Reon’s contribution to the sport over many years, at club, regional, national and international level has been enormous,” Humm says.

                “And even now, as he sits on the International Rugby League board, he’s in the trenches with a local club. He’s really helping the Tigers out as far as showing them what success could look like over the next few years, working with them on how they can implement a plan.

                “He’s been bloody great for our sport and still is. I congratulate him for the work he’s done over many years – but he is still doing that work. He’s just so passionate about the sport and just wants to help.”