If you told the Te Puna and Whakarewarewa players at the start of the season they would play each other on Matakana Island you would have received some strange looks.

But that is the exciting prospect awaiting the premier and development sides of the two clubs who will take to the seas on the Matakana Ferry tomorrow for a rugby day like no other held in the Bay of Plenty.

Farmlands Co-operative Baywide rugby competition leaders Te Puna have opted to move their home game against Whakarewarewa to the Island.

Premier coach and club stalwart Aidan Kuka says it is the first time they have done this.


"We are really excited about heading over to Matakana Island to play Whakarewarewa. It is going to be a great day, not only for the clubs involved but for all our communities as well," he said.

"It is in recognition of the support Matakana Island has provided our club pretty much over the 99 years of our history. We want to thank them for that support. This is also about whakapapa and the family ties both Te Puna and Whakarewarewa have with Matakana Island.

"The day will be more than just rugby — it will be about reconnecting our people."

Kuka says Te Puna and Matakana Island have shared playing resources in all age divisions for nearly a century.

"In recent years a lot of our junior players come from Matakana. Our JMC has always been strong thanks to kids from Matakana coming over.

"Over the years we have many senior players come and play for us, particularly back in the 1990s when there was a big influx of Matakana Island residents who filled our senior teams when we were struggling for numbers. Several hidden gems came from that."

Large numbers are expected to travel to the Island with the two premier and development teams, the Te Puna reserves playing a Matakana Island side, coaches, managers, referees, officials and supporters.

"We are all jumping on the barge from Omokoroa to head on over. There will be a fair few first timers experiencing the barge ride over so we will leave the Matakana with a fair few highlights I think," Kuka said.


"We have been planning this now for two or three months so there has been plenty of heads-up for the people who will be providing us with transport."

The Matakana Island community is excited to host two of the major clubs in the Bay of Plenty.

"They have a feed fit for kings. We will have to do the job on the field first before we can get into some tucker but it is going to be a good day," Kuka said.

"Their field is a good, grassroots rugby field and that is what it is all about."

Kuka's family is one of many from Te Puna with strong links to Matakana Island, including team captain Te Aihe Toma through his Te Rangihouhiri hapu.

Kelly Haimona will have plenty of whanau support. PHOTO/FILE
Kelly Haimona will have plenty of whanau support. PHOTO/FILE

A win tomorrow against Whakarewarewa would see the first round title a step closer to Te Puna's grasp.

They are riding high on top of the Baywide Premier points standings, four points clear of Rotoiti with Tauranga Sports and Te Puke Sports rounding out the top four.

Whakarewarewa are eighth, with a top eight position almost certain, 10 points clear of Ngongotaha.

Kuka is more than happy with his team's unbeaten start to the 2018 season.

"We have gone really well. We are still to experience a loss. We have had six wins and a draw but we have to keep our heads down and keep working hard if we want to really do well this year."

Whakarewarewa players and coaching staff are just as amped to be part of the unique away game on Matakana Island.

The proud club from Rotorua also has strong ties to Matakana.

Bay of Plenty and Maori All Blacks coach Clayton McMillan and Whakarewarewa five-eighth Kelly Haimona have strong whakapapa connections to the Island through the Te Rangihouhiri hapu and are closely related to Te Puna captain Toma.

Bay of Plenty centenarian McMillan is rumoured to be playing some minutes for Matakana Island against Te Puna reserves in the early 11.15am game.

Whakarewarewa coach Peter Smith is delighted to be part of a remarkable event that will set a special precedent in the history of Bay of Plenty club rugby.

"We are pleased that Te Puna took this opportunity to help support Matakana and we, like our supporters, are right behind the initiative," he said.

"We need to show improvement around the ruck this weekend. Te Puna are strong in this area and we need to ensure our forwards work hard to get clean ball out to our backs. We will also need to focus on our defence.

"We have let that slip in the final 20 (minutes) lately and if we want to get the result our defence will need to be maintained for the full 80."

Te Puna will not have to defend the Jordan Trophy as the knockout trophy is only played for between Tauranga teams.

But Matakana Island plays a large part in the early days of the trophy's history. The challenge cup was first won by Rangataua in 1913 and Matakana Island won it in 1915.

When Te Puna came on to the scene in 1919 they become Matakana Island's biggest challenge with the Jordan Cup mainly shared between the two clubs right up until 1936.

In other Premier and Development games tomorrow, Tauranga Sports hooker Alan McRobbie will play his 150th match for the Premier side against Ngongotaha at Tauranga Domain, Te Puke Sports and defending champs Mount Maunganui Sports meet at Murray Salt Stadium in Te Puke, Greerton Marist take on winless Whakatane Marist at Greerton Park, Arataki Sports travel to Paroa, while Rangataua Sports play Rotoiti on the shores of Lake Rotoiti.

Farmlands Co-operative Baywide Premier Club Rugby Draws, Saturday
Premier 2.45pm, Development 1pm
Paroa v Arataki at Lawson Park, Tauranga Sports v Ngongotaha at Tauranga Domain, Te Puke Sports v Mount Maunganui at Murray Salt, Te Puna v Whakarewarewa at Matakana Island, Rotoiti v Rangataua at Emery Park, Greerton Marist v Whakatane Marist at Greerton Park 1pm kick-off.
- No development game. Greerton Marist win by default over Whakatane Marist

Division One 2.45pm
Poroporo v Opotiki at Poroporo, Kahukura v Waikite at Kuirau Park, Te Teko v Ruatoki at Dunderdale Park, Waimana v Murupara at Waimana Domain, Marist St Michael's v Judea at Marist Park, Papamoa v Rangiuru at Gordon Spratt Reserve.