Steamers and Volcanix double header a great day out
When it comes to the Mite 10 Cup and Farah Palmer Cup double header at the Tauranga Domain on Saturday, the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union absolutely nailed it.
Crucially, the weather played its part and the grandstands were packed out with more than 5000 people. While the rugby itself was entertaining, despite both sides going down to their Canterbury counterparts, the atmosphere at the domain was a highlight.
There was a live band - Tell Your Friends - playing between games and DJ Pete's sounds boomed around the stadium throughout. The Rotorua DJ is a regular fixture at local sports events and has the knack of playing exactly the right song at the right time to get the crowd on their feet.
There was a section of the stadium filled with a range of food trucks to ensure the crowd was well fed, a children's section with games and activities and a group of cheerleaders who performed throughout the day.
In a sporting sense, the double header was also a great platform to advertise the ever growing women's game. The Volcanix were beaten 55-5 by Canterbury, but the enthusiasm and effort they put into the game will have won over plenty of rugby fans.
With occasions like this and more women's games being televised, it should not be long until more people realise what a valuable form of entertainment women's rugby is.
On Friday, September 21 it is the Rotorua International Stadium's turn for a double header. At 5.05pm the Volcanix take on Taranaki, followed by the Steamers versus Waikato at 7.35pm. I encourage as many people as possible to head out to the stadium and help create the same sort of atmosphere as was enjoyed in Tauranga on Saturday.
Eighty-five years and going strong
Organising any sports tournament is a mammoth task. Organising a tournament that has grown and thrived for 85 years is a super-human achievement.
Two weekends of the 2018 Kurangaituku netball tournament, run by Rotorua Netball, have been completed with one left to play this weekend, the secondary school competition.
For netball teams all over New Zealand the annual tournament is a highlight and by all accounts, this year's has run as smoothly and efficiently as ever.
Competition on court is fierce, but at the Westbrook courts each weekend there is a party atmosphere. It is a massive social occasion for players coming off the back of a busy club netball season.
In 1933, six teams played in the first Kurangaituku tournament. Eighty-five years later there are more than 350 teams playing.
It is a massive undertaking, but a group of passionate and experienced organisers make it work every year. They deserve all the praise in the world.
The Warriors - this is our year?
The Warriors have done it! For the first time since 2011, they have qualified for the NRL playoffs. Dare we dream to believe they could make a run to the Grand Final?
On Saturday the Warriors, who finished eighth, play the Penrith Panthers, who finished fifth, in the qualifying finals.
The beauty of knockout footy is anything can happen. In my opinion, the Rabbitohs are the favourites, followed closely by the Storm and the Roosters.
However, in recent weeks each of those sides have shown that anyone can have an off-day. Now we are at the stage of the competition where an off-day can mean the end of your season.
On the other side of the coin, according to TAB odds, the Warriors are only the sixth most likely to win the Grand Final out of eight teams. But, all it takes is a few big efforts and it could happen.
The dilemma for Kiwi oval ball fans this weekend is that the Warriors' game is at 7.30pm on Saturday, the same time as the All Blacks kickoff against Argentina. I'm sure there will be plenty of channel flicking, but in my case I will be glued to the Warriors.
I've suffered through too many years of disappointment to miss this one.