Ngongotahā and Whakarewarewa are preparing to compete for one of Rotorua's oldest rugby prizes tomorrow.

In previous years, Central Bay of Plenty teams have played in a pre-season championship to decide the winners of the Rotorua Banner.

As there was no pre-season championship this year, Rotorua's top two teams in the Baywide competitions at the end of round one, Whakarewarewa and Ngongotahā, will go head-to-head in a winner-takes-all fixture at Puarenga Park from 2.30pm.

The winner's name will be embroidered on the banner, which has been contested since 1938 and was once the prize for the Rotorua competition before Baywide rugby began.

Advertisement

Since then, the winner each year has had their name added to the banner and once full the team that has their name on it the most claims possession of the prize. The first three banners were claimed by Waikite.

Whakarewarewa finished sixth in the Premier 1 division this year and coach Boxer Smith says his side are looking forward to the fixture, which also sees the Tai Mitchell Trophy up for grabs.

"For our boys, it is a chance to end our campaign on high. The season didn't go as well as we planned but this is an opportunity to gain momentum going into next year."

Whakarewarewa need only a few more victories to hang the banner in their clubrooms.

"The history is big for Rotorua rugby and when you walk into Waikite club you see them hanging there, that is the drive for our boys. It is just the mana that they hold.

"It all comes from the heart, going into these games you can't look too much at form. It is more than rugby and it goes back to tribal warfare. We are expecting them to bring their commitment and fancy their chances."

Ngongotahā coach Hika Reid says the fixture is a great way to celebrate Rotorua rugby.

"We are looking forward to it, it is a good run around and there is the taonga up for grabs. We want our players to go out and enjoy themselves and we have a share of unavailable players as I am sure [Whakarewarewa] do.

Advertisement

"The work Central Bay are doing in raising the profile of Bay of Plenty clubs is great. The banner was everything in my era and probably the decade after us, and the game is about reminiscing on the old times.

"We have a lot of young guys coming through, they don't remember the banner being the supremacy in the 80s and 90s, they might not have the same passion as say the coaches might but this is and opportunity for two Rotorua clubs to have game and recognise Rotorua rugby is strong."

Rotorua Banner match
Where: Puarenga Park
When: Saturday, July 27, at 2.30pm
Who: Whakarewarewa v Ngongotahā