April 10, 2022


The Mid Central Vipers played host to the Canterbury Bulls in the final round of the SkySport Women’s Premiership as both teams clashed at Palmerston Norths’ Central Energy Trusts Arena.

Canterbury was the first to strike as a strong kick return from Bulls standout Mikayla Werahiko put the South Island side in striking distance. Off the ensuing play fullback, Dayna Napa went over breaking through a scrambling Vipers defense to go up 4-0.

Werahiko then got herself on the scoresheet attacking a cross-field kick to go over untouched in the corner. Moments later half Cassie Siataga hung another cross-field kick up, this time to the right-hand side which took a wicked bounce, falling into the lap of winger Sailai Pau to put the Bulls up by 12.

In the 13th minute, Mid Central hit back through hooker Paris Paul whose craftiness and footwork out of dummy half saw her beat several defenders to score under the post as the Vipers brought it to 12-6.

Mid Central started the second stanza in good stead and this paid off in the 45th minute as middle Agnes Faraimo barged over close to the line to level the scores.

Canterbury though off the back off Vipers mistakes crushed any momentum as Talosaga Manu crashed over in the same vein as Faraimo to put the Bulls up by a converted try. With ten minutes left to go, number 19 Theresa McPherson went over in the corner which proved to be the dagger as Canterbury went out 22-12 winners.





Tries: Napa, Werahiko, Pau, Manu, McPherson


Conversions: Siataga (1/5)




Tries: Paul, Faraimo


Conversions: Bates (2/2)


April 3 2022


Canterbury hosted Akarana at Christchurch’s Nga Puna Wai, and Akarana got off to an early start. Ten minutes into the proceedings five-eight Roimata Amosa-Tiro sliced through to score under the posts as they took a 6-0 lead. Several minutes later Akarana doubled their try tally as a left edge shift saw left wing Roelien Du Plessis go over untouched as the lead went out to 10-0

Minutes later, Canterbury Wing Mikayla Werahiko latched onto a cross-field kick, towering over the defenders to put the South Island team back into the contest.

Akarana half-back Laishon Albert-Jones trumped any Canterbury momentum though as she crashed over from dummy-half seconds before the half-time buzzer to take a 16-6 lead into the sheds.

Canterbury came out of the blocks quickly, number 18 Sailiai Pau scoring a controversial try in the corner as they brought the score to 16-10 early in the second stanza. An error from an Akarana bomb saw Canterbury allow the Auckland outfit dangerous territory, and fullback Lavinia Tahalaliku took advantage, shedding multiple defenders to score on the left edge.

A Left side shift saw Werahiko score her second for Canterbury bringing the game within a converted try as it stood at 20-14.

Towards the back end of the match, Akarana made Canterbury pay for a penalty that didn’t reach touch. The Auckland team shifted the ball towards the right edge and Albert-Jones held the ball up for Keri Ratima to score in the right corner. Du Plessis scored her double in the final minute as Akarana exploited an overlap in the Canterbury defence. 28-14




Tries: Roimata Amosa-Tiro, Roelien Du Plessis (x2), Laishon Albert-Jones, Lavinia Tahalaliku, Keri Ratima


Conversions: Laishon Albert-Jones (2/7)




Tries: Mikayla Werahiko (x2), Sailiai Pau


Conversions: Dayna Napa (1/3)

27 March 2022


Auckland’s Trusts Stadium held host to South Island and Waikato, with Waikato seeking their first win of the competition.


The South Island side did not take long to open their account, half Oliver Lawry taking advantage of a Uriah Tuli break to go over in the second minute. 14 minutes in Waikato hit back, hooker Tahere Kaio-Koroheke taking advantage of lazy ruck defense to sneak over from dummy-half. Te Awa Daniela converted to take a 6-4 lead.


South Island’s Lawry turned provider in the 19th minute as he put second-rower Tupou Kaufofona through from close range to retake the lead. Moments later Tuli again found himself in space and this time finished, scoring a scintillating solo try as the South Island side went into the break, up 16-6.


Five minutes into the second stanza a dummy half break from Kiardyn Hatch was turned into points as South Island shifted left finding Taani Fangupo who crashed over. Halbert-Pere making it 22-6. After receiving multiple penalties breakdown in the play saw Waikato prop Portman Paul fight off several defenders to bring them to with two converted tries. With five minutes remaining, Prop George Faiava snuffed out any semblance of a comeback crashing over under the posts with Jacob Lowe adding the extras.


Two minutes from time, Deijdre Siaki leapt over the pack to reign in a cross-field kick to score his first of the afternoon. Not to be outdone, Oliver Lawry connected with Jacob Lowe as he scored seconds from the buzzer to complete the victory.


South Island – 40


Tries: Lawry, Kaufofonga, Tuli, Fangupo, Faiava, Siaki, Lowe.


Conversions: Halbert-Pere (3/4), Lowe (3/3)


Waikato – 10


Tries: Kaio-Koroheke, Paul.


Conversions: Daniela (1/1), Stillinovich-Watene (0/1)

March 13 2022


Christchurch’s Nga Puna Wai hosted both South Island and Akarana for their first hit-outs of the 2022 Ruben Wiki Cup.


Akarana asserted themselves immediately, quickly moving into the swing of the game and converting this early dominance into points as Northcote winger Tupala Faaee went over untouched in the corner.


Ten minutes in, Akarana found themselves over again through Faaee as the Falcons went to a short side shift, capitalising on an overlap to make the score 8-0 to the visitors.


Dominating the opening exchanges, Captain Doux-Fiatau-Kauhiva intercepted a loose pass to put winger Esom Ioka down the right-hand side extending the lead to 14-0 as Joshua Tanielu converted.


South Island found a way through as three quick penalties pushed them down onto the Akarana line. Tupou Kaufononga was able to turn that field position into points as he crashed over around the ruck to bring the game to 14-6 going into the half.


Eight minutes into the second stanza saw Sebastian Su’a fight his way over for a four-pointer. A superb break by Ioka put Akarana into dangerous territory and a short ball by Fiatau-Kauhiva put Su’a into a hole where he was able to score. Faaee converted to make it a 20-6 game.


With the contest going back and forth, Akarana took the game into their own hands and were able to extend their advantage in the 60th minute. A clinical set-piece saw Lani Graham-Taufa push the score to a comfortable 24-6.


With 15 minutes left in the match, South Island produced their best displays of the afternoon as Makaia Tafua, Ethan Faitaua and fullback Kiardyn Hatch put themselves on the scoresheet in quick succession to make the game a tight contest. Missed conversions were costly as they were unable to complete the comeback with Akarana sneaking through 24-20 to end round 1.


Next week South Island hosts Upper Central Stallions and Akarana meet Counties in the Auckland derby at Trusts Stadium.


Akarana – 20



Tupala Faaee (x2), Esom Ioka, Sebastian Su’a, Lani Graham-Taufa.



Faaee (1/3), Tanielu (1/2)


South Island – 20



Tupou Kaufononga, Makaia Tafua, Ethan Faitaua, Kiardyn Hatch.



Jacob Lowe (2/4)

10 July 2021

Sean Spooner joins rarefied air in the club rugby league sphere this weekend, making his 300th premier grade appearance in the Canterbury Rugby League competition.

The 37-year-old will complete this remarkable achievement less than a year after Shane Tamatea joined the 300 Club – and Spooner shares many qualities with his legendary Riccarton Knights teammate.

Commitment, selflessness, leadership, competitive desire.

Talking to Spooner this week ahead of his milestone match at Crosbie Park, humility is another common trait between the pair that shines through.

“I haven’t really thought about (the milestone) too much until after the game last Saturday,” Spooner says.

“It’s come around pretty quick from when I started to now – I guess it’s pretty rare.”

Fittingly, he will play his 300th game against Papanui Tigers, the club Spooner came through the junior ranks at and made his premiers debut for as a teenager way back in 2002.

To put the veteran playmaker’s longevity in perspective, the NRL’s current longest-serving player, Benji Marshall, came into first grade in late-2003.

“The quality of players, the competition back then was very fierce and competitive,” Spooner recalls of his early days in the top flight.

“Any team could beat anyone else on the day and every team had good players – the Tigers had the likes of Eddie Hei Hei, Chris Newton, John Kelly. Quality players at the end of their careers but stars in their own right.

“Lusi Sione (Halswell) and Aaron Whittaker (Riccarton) were also just at the end of their careers when I was starting, they were where I am at the moment.”

After three seasons in the black-and-gold jersey, Spooner joined Hornby Panthers – the start of a fruitful 14-season tenure out west that garnered eight CRL Grand Final appearances and premierships in 2006, 2009-10 and 2012-13.

“It all started with ‘Jiggsy’, (Panthers coach) Brent Ringdahl, he brought me to the club,” he explains.

“I had a conversation with his son, Chris, and it went from there, we built a relationship up and it’s been like that ever since – we’ve always been pretty tight.”

Spooner rates his first and last Grand Final victories as his standout memories at Hornby: “Winning your first Grand Final has got to be up with the best. I can remember listening to the anthem before the game, it was an awesome experience.”

The 2013 Grand Final – the second straight between archrivals Hornby and Halswell to go into extra-time – was a classic, with James Baxendale’s 98th-minute penalty goal securing another title. It was especially sweet for the Spooner family, however, with Sean featuring alongside brother Gene.

“Our parents are pretty proud of that, Jack and Karen.

“It was definitely a standout one from a viewer’s perspective, ebb and flow, it could have gone either way. Both quality teams – Halswell were an exceptionally good team back then.”

While Spooner rates Ringdahl as the biggest influence on his career, he also formed a strong bond with the Panthers’ 2012-13 premiership-winning coach, Brent Stuart, and credits a clutch of experienced teammates for showing him the ropes at Hornby.  

“‘Stuey’ was a person I really looked up to, very knowledgeable and I still keep in contact with him now. He’s definitely someone you wanted to be taught by – he’s a bloody good coach.

“Craig Smith and Aaron Harris are two guys who I really respect, they taught me a lot. About the jersey, the culture, everything it means to play for Hornby. Sam Wallace was also someone I enjoyed playing in the same team as.”

Spooner linked with Riccarton last year, leaving a club chock-full of experience that had played in eight of the previous 11 Grand Finals, for a rebuilding, youthful outfit.

The sea change has given Spooner a new lease of life, arguably helping prolong his admirable career.

“It was a fresh approach, I wanted to be a leader and try my hand at something different,” he says.

“A new challenge, some new goals. Really test myself towards the back-end of my career. I really felt I could bring some of that to Riccarton.

“Last season was the first the Knights were in the semi-finals for four years. As a club, I’m really appreciative of all their work. Shane (Tamatea) is an inspiration, the main person at Riccarton – our clubman. Our relationship has got really strong and he’s a good mate.

“Being a leader is something I always wanted to be in any team I played in. I wanted to set an example for people to show that hard work, dedication can pay off in the end. I wanted to be that player that everyone could follow.”

And it’s old-fashioned hard work that has underpinned Spooner’s ability to play at this level for 20 seasons – at least in more recent times.

“Earlier on I wasn’t a massive gym-goer, I was a bit lazy,” he confesses.  

“But these past few years I’ve really looked after myself. Kids these days are getting stronger and bigger, so you’ve got to try and match them as best you can.

“The last five years I’ve worked really hard on fitness to be competitive. It’s not easy – you can get left behind pretty quick. I was just trying to take that work ethic to our team at Riccarton and hopefully in coming years it’s going to pay off.”

Spooner remains coy about the prospect of hanging up the boots – and if he follows the example set by Tamatea, who has turned short-lived retirements into an art form, we can expect to the wily ball-player running around again in 2022 and beyond.

“You’re a long time retired, that’s the call Shane uses too. I’ll play it by ear, see how the rest of the season goes – we’ve still got a few games to go. Look after the body and go from there.”

Will Evans

Canterbury Rugby League (CRL) is the regional organisation charged with leading, developing, promoting and fostering Rugby League in Canterbury. CRL has built a strong and loyal following across the Canterbury region for over 100 years.  As an organisation CRL plays an important role within the community by delivering on its strategic plan, CRL will continue to build on its rich history and create a bright future for the game.

Job tasks and responsibilities

Lead the development and promotion of rugby league in primary, intermediate and secondary schools.

The primary focus of the Development Officer is the delivery of Canterbury Rugby League’s youth and junior coaching and development plan within the Canterbury District.  They will also be required to assist in the overall planning and delivery of training to all coaches, however, their primary focus will be upon developing and supporting youth coaches in the club setting.

Skills and experience

  • Previous experience in a sport development role (minimum 1-2 years) is preferable but not essential.
  • Relevant tertiary training and/or qualification.
  • Have a passion for delivering sport to youth.
  • An understanding of sport and education settings in New Zealand.
  • Be an outstanding communicator, be able to present to a wide variety of people.
  • Have excellent inter-personal skills.
  • Have strong (and timely) reporting skills.
  • Be able to deliver (high quality) programmes in an educational setting at all levels.
  • A sound knowledge of Canterbury Rugby League, its goals and objectives.
  • Confidence dealing with clubs, youth, volunteers and local authorities and community groups.
  • Good computer skills.

For a copy of the Job Description please email [email protected].

To apply for this job please click here

If you require any further information please contact Duane Fyfe on 021-994-494.

Canterbury Rugby League is pleased to announce the appointment of Duane Fyfe as CRL’s new Chief Executive Officer.

Duane’s acceptance of the role renews his association with Canterbury Rugby League, having been employed as General Manager from 2004-08. It also extends his long involvement in rugby league – Duane has managed NZ Army, Junior Kiwis and NZ Residents teams, while he was the Whangarei-based General Manager of Rugby League Northland from late-2015 until early-2018.

Returning to the region in March, Duane comes to Canterbury Rugby League after a sixmonth stint as CEO at Touch Canterbury.

Duane has held leadership roles in the not-for-profit and business sectors, both as a volunteer and in a professional capacity, for the past 15 years. Duane brings vast and valuable experience in sports administration into the role, as well as a deep understanding of rugby league at all levels.

Duane will start in the position with CRL in early-September.

“CRL are very fortunate to obtain Duane for the CEO role, where he can bring both rugby league knowledge and business background to the game,” CRL Board Chairman Simon Doig said.

“Duane will be working closely with the clubs and key stakeholders in developing the new strategy forward for Canterbury Rugby League in the first few months.”

Please join Canterbury Rugby League and the CRL Board in congratulating and welcoming Duane into the CEO role.

New Zealand Rugby League introduced the ‘Be A Sport’ programme to encourage positive supporter behaviour and provide more enjoyable rugby league experiences for our community – from players, referees, coaches and officials to fans and spectators.

Adapted from an Auckland Rugby League programme, Be A Sport was launched in all seven NZRL zones’ junior programmes in 2017 and expanded into further grades this year.

Be A Sport’s ethos has quickly become a cornerstone of Canterbury Rugby League’s campaign to eradicate antisocial behaviour from the game, attract new people to rugby league and make people want to stay in the sport.

“From our perspective, Be A Sport helps change the culture and environment for our visitors to the park and the players on the field,” CRL Club Capability Manager George Lajpold says.

“It’s also designed to help recognise that the people we have officiating games are volunteers.”

Recruiting and retaining referees is one of the greatest problems facing grassroots sport – and rugby league is no exception.

The biggest obstacle to new refs picking up the whistle and current refs remaining in the ranks is abuse from the sidelines. One of Be A Sport’s foundational principles is that this behaviour is unacceptable.

“One of our real concerns – and that of the sport in general – is that people see a game of NRL and expect the same level of officiating at club level right down to the six-year-old grade,” Lajpold explains.

“Part of the Be A Sport campaign is to say that these are young people still learning the sport, it’s an environment that should be full of positive experiences, and recognising that young people are there to have fun.”

Lajpold says that creating a safer and more welcoming environment for referees is critical to the code’s crusade to bolster numbers, and to the health of rugby league in general. Without refs, you don’t have a game.

“At the moment rugby league, as well as a number of other sports, are going through a process of trying to lift the profile of refereeing and let everyone know that they’re there to support our sport.

“They aren’t there to have a huge influence, but they want to create a quality experience for our players and they are an integral part of our game.

“We want everyone on the sideline to have a clear understanding of what the referees are trying to do on the field – which is to create a better experience for players and supporters.”

Canterbury Rugby League is working alongside clubs to curb behaviour detrimental to creating a positive and safe environment for players, officials and fellow supporters.

Each club appoints two ‘Team Champions’, who are identifiable by Hi-Vis vests marked with the ‘Be A Sport – Just Support’ message. Where behaviour is not appropriate, Team Champions are to follow the steps as described on the BAS guide sheet.

“One of the key things about Be A Sport is that antisocial sideline behaviour should normally be dealt with by the club where that person is from,” Lajpold says.

“It’s not a confrontational thing – it’s an opportunity for a club member to stand alongside the spectator, ask what’s happening for them around the game and remind them of what constitutes appropriate sideline behaviour.

“And it’s a positive thing to see clubs take more responsibility for their own supporters’ sideline behaviour. It’s a collective responsibility – it’s not just CRL’s responsibility or a club’s responsibility on their own.”

Lajpold says the response from the clubs to the Be A Sport programme’s initiatives has been overwhelmingly positive.

“It’s been pretty cool. From a juniors perspective every club has taken it on board.

“When you see the Hi-Vis vests down at Canterbury Park on a Saturday or at a seniors game on a Saturday, those are the Be A Sport Team Champions – they’re the ones that are there to help create a positive environment and manage any inappropriate behaviour.

“It’s been well-received, and Canterbury Rugby League is quite open to going into clubs and having conversations with parents and club members and people in the community around what their sport is, the principles that go with it and what we’re trying to achieve in this space.”

Another key component of the Be A Sport programme is creating an alcohol-free and smoke-free environment on the sideline at games.

“In the past rugby league has perhaps been seen as a sport where that’s a regular thing, drinking alcohol on the sideline, which often leads to antisocial behaviour,” Lajpold says.

“What we’re saying from rugby league’s perspective is that actually we need to start changing our culture so people want to start coming to our games and have a positive experience while they’re there.”

While supporters responsible for antisocial behaviour at rugby league games are very much in the minority, it only takes one negative incident to ruin a day out at the footy for many.

The Be A Sport programme is one of the most effective tools at Canterbury Rugby League’s disposal to decrease those negative instances by promoting positivity, inclusivity and respectfulness.

“The main thing to understand is that everyone that’s involved in rugby league, coaches, managers, the person with the whistle in the middle of the field, are volunteers and they’re also developing in the game and learning,” Lajpold enthuses.

“We have a 31 percent turnover rate of people leaving our sport every year, and part of that is because of the experience they receive when they’re at the game on the sideline.

“The Be A Sport initiative is part and parcel of us saying that as a group we need to look at the culture that’s been there in the past, changing the negative aspects of that and creating a more positive one.”