Corey Kennett began playing rugby as a toddler in Horowhenua, not too long after man landed on the moon.

As humankind celebrates the 50th anniversary of the moonlanding, the College Old Boys stalwart has called time on a playing career spanning almost as long.

The 48-year-old, who has played rugby every season for the last 44 years, announced he was finally hanging up his boots after College Old Boys beat Paraparaumu 13-12 in the senior reserve grade final at Levin Domain at the weekend.

"I'm definitely retiring, that's for absolute certain. My body is 'kumared' and I want to spend more time with my family," he said.


Old Boys came from behind with a try to lock forward Faamanatu Kaisala in the dying moments against Paraparaumu to win the final at Levin Domain, erupting in celebration at the final whistle.

It was hard to give an exact count, but estimates were that Kennett had played almost 1000 games of senior rugby, and despite the obvious wear and tear, he largely remained free of serious injury in that time.

The worst of it was a fractured eye socket that kept him sidelined 20 years ago and he still has steel plates in his face.

With the finish line in sight, he played with the last five games this season with a hairline fracture in his cheekbone,

He was in a unique position to have played through different eras of rugby, marked with the advent of professionalism, many law changes, and changes in social behaviours.

"You can't ruck anymore. There was a time when you could rotary-hoe someone's back raw. But there were unwritten rules. You always left the head alone," he said.

"I played with some very tough men when I was younger, physically and mentally ... there were things that you could do then that you certainly can't do today.

"They were a lot harder back then, but in saying that, modern rugby is a lot more skilful."


But Kennett said the important things have remained the same.

"The rugby ethos hasn't changed. People still play to be with their mates, and clubs still have families and volunteers and players to make sure it all survives."

Kennett was part of the vintage Horowhenua 1993 team that won the NPC third division title. He played 56 games for Horowhenua, scoring 32 tries, and captained the side in 1995.

In 1996 he made the NZ Universities team while attending Massey University before the lure of professional rugby saw him spend the next decade playing and coaching in Scotland, France and England.

He returned home in 2008 where he was assistant coach and later manager of Horowhenua-Kapiti before taking post as chief executive in 2008, all the while continuing to play.

Last season he played his 250th game for COB.


Kennett said he was looking forward to spending more time with his family, wife Esta, and boys Nicholas, Ollie and Jack.

"They deserve more of my time," he said.

Paraparaumu's tries went to winger Peter Goldsmith and lock Devyn Taylor, with Goldsmith adding a conversion.

COB's tries came from the match-winner to Kaisala, with Junior Tevita kicking a conversion and two penalties.

Bill Muir Cup Competition – Semifinals.
At Levin Domain: Levin College Old Boys: 13 (F. Kaisala try; J. Tevita 1 con, 2 Pen) v
Paraparaumu: 12 ( P Goldsmith, D. Taylor Tries; P. Goldsmith 1 con)