Junior touch players from all over the upper North Island battled it out at Rotorua International Stadium at the weekend and Bay of Plenty was well represented.
The Northern Interprovincial Series (IPS) tournament included under-10, under-12 and under-14 age groups and of the 84 teams involved, 18 were from Bay of Plenty. Games were played at the stadium and its surrounding fields.
Bay of Plenty Touch president Mike Te Kurapa said the event was a valuable opportunity for the regions best young players to get a taste of representative touch rugby.
"It prepares them for the under-16s and under-18s, which is the junior nationals. It gets them involved in an environment where they can compete with other areas and other kids.
"In terms of Bay of Plenty Touch, it also gives us a chance to perfect processes and just helps get kids involved in the sport. We had 18 teams - that's roughly over 250 players and coaches and probably about 800 parents and family members down there supporting.
"Playing at the stadium was definitely different to playing at Puarenga Park. It was good that the age groups were all grouped together. All the games that were played in the stadium were live streamed on Facebook and the kids definitely loved that.
"Touch NZ tried to get as many teams as they could playing on there over the two days."
Bay of Plenty picked up first place finishes in the Under-10 Mixed Division 1, Under-10 Boys' Division 2, Under-12 Girls' Division 2, Under-14 Mixed Division 1 and Under-14 Girls' Division 2 grades.
They also finished first-equal with Waikato, on 15 points, in the overall Division 2 Provincial Cup.
Counties Manukau won the Division 1 Cup with 49 points, ahead of Auckland (39), Waikato (36) and Bay of Plenty (35).
"We've done pretty well in the development grades over the last few years and we definitely improved our ranking in Division 1 as well. Every year we are just trying to aim a little bit more.
"Our under-14 mixed winning was a nice surprise, they were the underdogs all the way through. I think people didn't expect them to be that good, but they played as a strong team, as opposed to strong individuals. That was a really good thing, cool for them and cool for us," Te Kurapa said.
He said there was a good, supportive atmosphere among the Bay of Plenty teams throughout the weekend.
"It was really encouraged that if one team wasn't playing, their coach would take them to support the others who were playing. They tended to support one another, coaches were sharing ideas. I think that's the whole aim of this particular tournament.
"For the Bay of Plenty Touch executive members, we're there assessing coaches or working with managers, talking with parents. It's full-on for those two days and even beforehand trying to organise everything."
Rotorua is quickly becoming the home of major touch tournaments in New Zealand. On February 8-10, the Rotorua International Stadium is hosting Junior Touch Nationals which comprises under-16 and under-18 players.
"It's credit to the Rotorua Lakes Council, hoe they've come on board and negotiated with Touch New Zealand to host these tournaments. For us in the Bay, it minimises costs and gives our supporters a chance to come and support us."
Bay of Plenty has six teams entered in junior nationals, they will play in the boys', girls' and mixed tournaments for each age group.
Bay of Plenty results at the Northern IPS Touch Tournament in Rotorua
Under-10 Boys: 4th
Under-10 Girls: BOP Gold 4th, BOP Blue 5th
Under-10 Mixed: BOP Gold 1st, BOP Blue 4th
Under-12 Boys: BOP Gold 5th
Under-12 Girls: BOP Gold 5th
Under-12 Mixed: BOP Gold 7th
Under-14 Boys: BOP Gold 4th
Under-14 Girls: 4th
Under-14 Mixed: 1st
Under-10 Boys: BOP Blue 1st
Under-12 Boys: BOP Blue 4th
Under-12 Girls: BOP Blue 1st
Under-12 Mixed: BOP Blue 2nd
Under-14 Boys: 4th
Under-14 Girls: BOP Blue 1st
Provincial Cup Division 1
1st Counties Manukau (49 points), 2nd Auckland (39), 3rd Waikato (36), 4th Bay of Plenty (35), 5th North Harbour (26), 6th Te Tai Tokerau (25), 7th Thames Valley (11), 8th Turanga nui a Kiwa (6).
Provincial Cup Division 2
1st Bay of Plenty and Waikato (15), 3rd Counties Manukau (9), 4th Auckland (7), 5th North Harbour (5).