Rugby referees are killking the game in Northland, so much so that players and spectators have had a guts full.
It's obvious that these referees are following a policy of zero tolerance, with so many penalties being dished out. I watched a couple of games - Kaitaia vs Eastern and Te Rarawa vs Awanui - and it was an embarrassment. So what is the problem?
What we have is a majority of those who take up the whistle lacking people skills, character and an ability to read the game. They have become the 31st player on the paddock.
They need to remember that rugby is not played to a high standard in the Far North, and that there are clubs that struggle just to put a side on the paddock. It's about give and take, where referees must assess the situation and officiate accordingly.
I am fully aware that referees give up their time, and without their input there is no game, but it's the same with the players. So to those who love to show their authority by continuously blowing their whistle, I have a solution - quit!
Huge congratulations to the Te Rarawa women's side on taking out the Northland club final against Kaikohe 21-19 on Saturday. In front of the biggest crowd seen on their field at Ahipara, it wad champagne rugby for the whole 80 minutes.
Te Rrarawa were too strong in the first half, and were well led by No 8 and captain Krystal Murray. That's where the game was won. Kaikohe rallied in the second half, with a couple of outstanding tries by Black Fern Portia Woodman, but it was Te Rarawa's resolute defence in the last 15 minutes that paved the way to victory.
As one ardent supporter, Shane Brydon said, "They have got better skills than our men."
Te Rarawa, you have made Mangonui rugby proud.
Eastern had to work overtime for their gritty 22-0 win over Ōhaeawai in last weekend's club rugby. Bolstered by a few players from Kaeo and Kaikohe, Ōhaeawai never gave up, but Eastern, led by first five-eighths Cyrus Broughton, tightened their defence, and that was it.
Te Rarawa had little trouble knocking over Otiria 62-5 in a shortened encounter. With prop Harlem Ruka working overtime and flankers Sean Covich and Conor O'Sullivan showing great mobility throughout, the game was very one-sided.
Awanui had little trouble despatching Kaitaia 41-0 at home.
The crunch match on Saturday will be at Taipā, 2.30pm, between two unbeaten sides, Eastern and Awanui, for the North Zone trophy. It will be a repeat of last year's club final, and Awanui is favoured to win.
Funding of $12,615,092, for a permanent Twin Coast Cycle Trail route from Ōpua to Taumarere, was discussed at an extraordinary meeting of the Far North District Council on Thursday, and to my disappointment this huge sum of money got the nod, with flying colours. More on this next week.
Ad that's how Mat sees it.