Support for grassroots rugby came to the fore during three games commemorating Northland rugby's centenary as fans and whanau travelled the length and breadth of the region to witness a once in a 100-year event.
With Semenoff Stadium in Whangārei in tip-top shape, the stage was set for three mouth-watering games on a mostly overcast day on Saturday but that didn't deter people from all walks of life to enjoy two trial games and the Johnny Isaacs Maori U21 North v South match.
All games were beamed live with commentary on Northland Rugby Union's Facebook page.
The Farah Palmer Cup women's trial match between North and South set the ball rolling for the day and despite the former pummelling the latter 41-12, there were lots of hugs and photo shoots post-match.
Next up was the Maori U21 clash and it turned out to be an absolute dog fight.
One minute to go and with South leading 38-33, Andrew Nimmo touched down in the corner and a brilliant sideline conversion by centre Cyrus Broughton sealed the game for North.
In the men's NPC trial game, North proved too strong for South, winning 38-19.
Many Northland players were in action for both teams and the crowd got more than their money's worth watching them bash each other on the field, and embrace afterwards.
Aaron Schofield and partner Rebecca Compston of Whangarei Heads brought their kids along and preferred the top of the main grandstand for a bird's eye view of top rugby action.
Son Finlay, 7, and daughter Madalyn, 5, play Rippa Rugby for Manaia and got some coaching tips from their parents while the three games were being played.
Now that the siblings play the sport and Aaron is working as a groundsman at the stadium, there's more interest in rugby in their house.
"The weather is great and it's a good day to enjoy before the weather changes later this weekend. It's a big achievement for Northland rugby so it's great to be here," Compston said.
Patrick Killeen came with his moko to cheer on his son, Chase, who played halfback for the Maori U21 South team against North.
Chase played for Old Boys' Marist premier team last year but because of work commitments, Patrick said he didn't play this year but got a late call up on Friday evening to play on Saturday.
"Nice and overcast day so good for the players. Hundreds years of Northland rugby... it's awesome. I had a few friends come to the centenary dinner and they loved it."
New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Mark Robinson attended the mix and mingle evening at the stadium on Friday and was full of praise for the way rugby was promoted in Northland.
"It's an incredibly special provincial rugby union in New Zealand, it's an iconic union that's respected right throughout New Zealand, it has an amazing history that all the people associated with locally and those connected with it can be very, very proud.
"What I've been most impressed with is how well organised the union is, how connected they are with the local community, how they are prepared to try new, innovative things around they want they getting rugby going in this community and I think they are doing a fantastic job in the way they are nurturing and fostering the game," the former All Black said.
He was given a tour of the NRU's new facility on Pohe Island and said it obviously provided a fantastic springboard for rugby World Cup 2021, to be played next year, and that all the participants in that tournament were going to be hugely impressed by the kind of facilities in Northland.
Robinson was also pleased with the way the Northland team has been playing in the last couple of seasons and made special mention to the development of homegrown talent and enticing others to head up north.
His wife Nova is the daughter of Northland-born former New Zealand Maori captain Tuck Waaka.
"Fortunate to marry in such a great family and so we're very connected with Northland. We don't come up here often but we do in summer and enjoy all the wonderful beaches."