In New Zealand's rugby history, only the Ranfurly Shield has been around longer than the NRM Roller Mills Trophy.

Generations of top-class All Blacks and other internationals have cut their teeth at the famous event for boys under 13 years and 57kg.

In 1924, the Northern Roller Milling Company in Auckland presented a shield for competition between primary school teams from any rugby unions within the Auckland province at that time.

The first tournament was held in Auckland in 1925. Bay of Plenty have been formidable foes for the other northern region provinces ever since, with the most successful period coming under coach Ian Spraggon.


His teams won the trophy consecutively between 1995 and 1998 plus two more titles in 2001 and 2002.

Following in his footsteps is Cliff Honey, who next month will coach the Bay team for the eighth consecutive year. It is an outstanding record, like so many at grassroots rugby level that do not get the kudos they deserve.

Honey is stepping down after this year's tournament, "to give someone else a go", he said. He hopes to go one step further than last year when Bay of Plenty lost the final to Auckland East 17-7.

Honey is again joined by co-coach Barry Ririnui and manager Darren Harvey at this year's tournament, to be played at the picturesque setting of St Peter's College in Cambridge from October 10 to 15.

Second seeds Bay of Plenty have been drawn in a pool with Auckland West, North Harbour, Taranaki and Thames Valley. Auckland East top the seedings in their pool with Northland, Waikato, King Country and Counties Manukau.

In an unusual anomaly, round one matches set down for day one have to be played before the teams assemble in Cambridge due to a double booking of the venue.

Bay of Plenty set an unofficial Roller Mills scoring record in defeating Thames Valley 130-0 at Te Puna on Saturday. They scored 22 tries with Wyndham Patuawa getting five and Elias Marks and Nacani Batidravu three each.

"Probably it was not a lot of help winning like that but one thing we did get out of it was the boys did stick to their guns. Even when we led 75-0 at halftime we asked them not to get loose and to stick to the patterns that we need to keep going when we play the tougher games," Honey said.

"And they did it. They played with good structure and our midfield let the ball go through and set their outsides up. It was all good."

It was a major improvement on their earlier 41-8 loss to Counties Manukau that Honey said was a big wake-up call.

"The boys were right off their game. It was straight after AIMS Games which is tough on the players. I believe we have got a team, boy for boy, as good as any team from every other year. If we can put it together we are dangerous.

"We don't have just one, star player. They just need to learn to have some trust in each other and a bit of belief."

Tournament details: www.facebook.com/RollerMillsRugbytuesday back

Bay of Plenty 2017 Roller Mills Team

Nacani Batidravu, Waisake Salabiau, Joseph Ah Siu, Aorangi Kirikiri Brown, Wyndham Patuawa (Te Puke); Moai Tihi, Jai Knight, Gus Shivnan, Justin Falken, Elias Marks (Tauranga East); Kanye Jones, James Haua, Josh Elmsly, Akuhata Hunia, Jackson LePou, George Muir (Tauranga West): Tane Howe, Paraina Davies, Taumanu Walker, Damien Tai (Opotiki); James Allen, Bailey Twigg (Tauranga North); Brooke Mitchell (Rotorua Gold); Cameron Glasgow (Rotorua Maroon); Kori Hemopo (Whakatane), Ethan Forbes (Rangitaiki)