Rugby: Big focus on past and the future

By Stuart Whitaker

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William McCurdy surges ahead for Arataki against Eastern Districts at Big Mike's Memorial 10s tournament played at Arataki on Saturday. Photo / Andrew Warner
William McCurdy surges ahead for Arataki against Eastern Districts at Big Mike's Memorial 10s tournament played at Arataki on Saturday. Photo / Andrew Warner

Te Puna won their second 10s title in as many weeks at the Arataki Big Mike's Memorial 10s on Saturday - but the day was as much about the past and the future as it was about the tournament.

They beat the hosts 29-0 in the championship final of the tournament named after club and Arataki community stalwart Michael Rawiri.

Rawiri's son, Michael junior, played halfback for the losing finalists, finding a novel way of being able to take the field after spraining his wrist at the Te Puna 10s two weeks earlier.

He cut pieces of jandal to give support to the wrist then strapped the whole thing up.

"I've also got a sore achilles after wearing new boots at training in the week," he said.

Te Puna had beaten Judea to reach the final and Arataki had overcome Te Teko.

While hopes of a home win were high, it was Te Puna who dominated the final with tries to Kaydin Budd and Te Aihe Toma giving them a 12-0 lead at the break. Arataki new recruit Reece Macdonald was defending as though his life depended on it, until he hit his head on the ground and had to leave the field.

Toma scored his second straight from the second-half kick-off and the winners added two more through Devo Rucava and Sebastian Siataga.

The game finished on a sour note with fists being thrown after the final hooter.

"Apart from right at the end, there was some good rugby played in good spirit," said Rawiri junior.

"Dad would have been smiling - well sad that we lost, but smiling as well."

Arataki rugby club secretary Lawrence Keogh said the club wanted to build on what was essentially the inaugural Big Mike's 10s.

Michael Rawiri senior died in 2013 and the following year the first attempt to stage the tournament was held when Arataki and Judea drew the final and shared the trophy.

"Two years ago we lacked numbers, so we have set it for the fourth Saturday in February - two weeks after Te Puna (10s) - we want to set it in the calendar so everyone will get to know," said Keogh.

Lorraine Burke, who was among those behind organising the tournament, described Sunday's event as a "pilot".

"Looking at it next year, it's going to be better again because people who have arrived here have seen that it's better than two years ago," she said.

"The rugby has been good - there haven't been too many broken bodies which is good with the season starting in four weeks."

After having a direct route into the plate final from pool play because of odd numbers, Papamoa were fresher and beat Arataki 2, while the Arataki women's team played three games against Tokoroa, winning the deciding game 22-10.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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