Every year the annual Whakatāne Touch Tournament is an event which hundreds of top players throughout New Zealand circle on the calendar.

When registrations for this year's event opened in September, organisers received 61 entries in the first three hours. At the weekend, 70 teams flocked to Whakatāne for the 33rd edition of the tournament.

In the men's and women's open divisions, last year's winners returned to successfully defend their titles. In the men's, team Wairere from Hamilton beat Auckland's Playin Up 6-4 in the final. Playin Up were also runner-up in the women's division, going down 4-3 to fellow Auckland side Bulletz in the final.

In the open mixed championship final, Galaxy, of New Plymouth beat Galaxy, of Wellington, 9-7.


Tauranga's AZ2 lost 6-5 to Auckland's Galaxy in the men's restricted championship and Rotorua team Menace beat Full Circle Brothers, of Whakatāne, 7-1 in the men's restricted plate final.

Long-time tournament director George Rogers said it was another entertaining weekend of touch and he estimated there were about 5000 spectators and supporters in attendance.

"It was a hot, dry day on Saturday and we started at 10.30am then continued right through to 6pm. There was a lot of touch played in that time, there were 18 fields in use."

The atmosphere of the tournament always attracted hundreds of players, in past tournaments they included celebrities such as former All Blacks and NRL legend Benji Marshall.

"It's family-orientated, I think that's what draws people. It's where touch teams throughout New Zealand, who are family-orientated, want to play.

"The standard of touch was very good throughout the day. The conditions were hot and humid, though the grounds were in good condition, and there was $15,100 in prize money given out overall."

Rogers said the only downside this year was a lack of referees. Each team was asked to provide one, but only 51 were able to. He said that put a strain on the referees who were there, but they stepped up and performed admirably.

Whakatāne Touch Tournament Results
Saturday at Rugby Park


Men's Open Championship
Waiere (Waikato) 6-4 Playin Up (Auckland)

Men's Open Plate
Bulletz (Counties Manukau) 4 Pearl Jam (Auckland) 3

Men's Restricted Championship
Galaxy (Auckland) 6-5 AZ2 (Tauranga)

Men's Restricted Plate
Menace (Rotorua) 7-1 Full circle Brothers (Whakatāne)

Women's Open Championship
Bulletz (Counties Manukau) 4-3 Playin Up (Auckland)

Women's Open Plate
Sunz women (Counties Manukau) 5-1 NZ35W

Women's Restricted Championship
Kickback Se7enz (Wellington) 4-3 Acez (Counties Manukau)

Women's Restricted Plate
Swift queens (Counties Manukau) 2-1 G double C Pandas (Auckland)

Mixed Championship
Galaxy (New Plymouth) 9-7 Galaxy (Wellington)

Mixed Plate
Menace (Rotorua) 4-1 Humble Hustle (Tokoroa)

Men's 35+ Old Boys' Championship
Nga Ninjas (Waikato) 4-2 BaaBaaz (Auckland)