At the weekend the 2019 Baywide rugby season got under way and we were quickly reminded of all that is good about grassroots footy.

From the diehard fans lining the field - all experts of course - who are not afraid to let their feelings known, to the players who take to most match-ups like tribal warfare, as interested in smashing each other as actually winning the game.

There is a buzz about club rugby, especially in the Bay, that is hard to match.

On Saturday, I covered Whakarewarewa versus Te Teko, two proud Māori clubs at different ends of the spectrum. Whakarewarewa have been in the Premier grade for several seasons and will have their sights set near the top of the table, while Te Teko are back in the highest tier for the first time in years.


As expected, Whakarewarewa won comfortably 54-21 and dominated most aspects of the game. But it was just as exciting to watch Te Teko grow in confidence throughout the match. You could see the players realising what a step up it was to be playing Premier rugby and adjust on the fly.

Te Teko in the final 10 minutes of the game, during which they scored two converted tries, looked a different team to the one which started the game.

I also enjoy watching a small community like Te Teko get behind the players. They travelled to Rotorua in their droves to cheer on their beloved team and it really added to the atmosphere of the match.

I am yet to experience that sort of tribal passion at a Mitre 10 Cup match.

Te Teko coach Anthony Studer summed it up well when he said: "There's a bit of hype in the Te Teko community at the moment, that's what we're all about. We know when our club's doing well, our community's doing well."

Meanwhile, putting together a team that can push for the Baywide Premier title is a delicate balancing act and, although it is very early days, Whakarewarewa look like they might have the right mix this year.

They are yet to be truly tested, but the men in red and black showed flashes of brilliance last season, showing they can go toe-to-toe with most teams, and have added even more firepower this year.

The powers that be at the club have placed an increased focus on whānau in recent seasons and it is creating a real community feel down at Puarenga Park which players want to be a part of. Could this be the year the title returns to Rotorua?


Well deserved recognition

Rotorua Cricket co-ordinator Karen Kyle received the Alan McBride Memorial Trophy for Service to Junior Cricket at the weekend and, in my opinion, there are few more deserving recipients.

I've seen with my own eyes the work Karen puts in administrating and helping to grow the game in the region and dedication doesn't go close to describing her efforts. The fact that she does it all on top of being a wife, mother of four and working a regular job is simply remarkable.

Sport is a massive part Kiwi culture and that could not be the case without people like her.


Crankworx Rotorua 2019 has come to a close and on reflection it provided numerous highlights.


One of the aspects I find fascinating, as a reporter, is deciphering mountain biker talk. They have a language of their own which includes "sending it" and being "stoked".

My favourite quote of the week was this one from Canada's Brett Rheeder on how he went about winning the Maxxis Slopestyle in Memory of McGazza on Saturday.

"I started off doing a switch-7 on the step-down, followed by a regular cork-720 on the shark fin. I went into a 360 double tail whip on the step-up, and a opposite double tail whip on the right hand hip, into a double-truck on the boner log. A switch-truck up on to the flat drop. I flip-whipped the flat-drop, into a front-flip one foot can, and into a cork-720 bars pin on the last jump."

I'm not 100 per cent sure what that means, but I've seen the video and it was certainly impressive.