Waverley can expect a bumper crowd at Dallison Park on Saturday when the leading two sides in the 2020 Tasman Tanning Wanganui premier club championship clash at Dallison Park.
Top of the table Waverley Harvesting Border has been in sizzling form this season, scoring 49 tries in a points aggregate of 301 but only lead Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau by a single point.
Kaierau may not have scored as many tries (31 and 203 pts) but is seeking a rare hat-trick of wins over Border after a 23-21 success at Waverley last year and 19-12 at Devon Road last month.
That July 11 win was the sole defeat for Border this campaign, winning the first round championship title (Paul Mitchell Cup) for the city club and lifting the Grand Hotel Challenge Shield.
That trophy is at stake again this weekend with victory almost certain to lead to success in the Metropolitan domestic series (won by Kaierau last year) and Saturday's winners shooting for a much easier home semi-final draw on September 12.
Top try scorers for the two sides this season are Vereniki Tikoisolomone (8), Lindsay Horrocks (7), Craig Clare (6) and Alex Vakarorongo (5) for Border and Karl Pascoe and Dillon Adrole (6 each) and Ethan Robinson (5) for Kaierau.
Tikoisolomone scored four tries against McCarthy Transport Ruapehu and Tom Symes three against Settlers Honey Ngamatapouri with hat tricks by Robinson and Adrole (v Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist) and Pascoe (v Ngamatapouri).
The current Metro points are – Kaierau 14, Border 11, Marist 6, Ngamatapouri 4.
Ruapehu will be aiming to register a first win for the year and avenge an earlier 33-17 away loss in a home game against Ngamatapouri.
Third placed and defending champions Byford's Readimix Taihape need a five pointer at home against Marist – it was only 19-18 away in the first round – to stay in contention for a home semi-final.
In the seniors unbeaten Harvey Round Motors Ratana defend the Stihl Shop Wanganui Challenge Shield against Black Bull Liquor Pirates on Spriggens Park with top of the table and also unbeaten Ali Arc Logistics – DNA Kennels Celtic playing fourth slotted Utiku OB in the curtain-raiser.
Speirs Food Marton host Buffalos, Gemini Pepper Construction Kaierau is home to Taihape, Kelo Hunterville is away to Border and Counties have the bye.
Ngamatapouri players hold the top two placings at the half way stage in the Grand Irish Bar premier MVP series.
Standings after five rounds – 13 pts Timoci Seruwalu (Ngamata), 9 pts Samu Kubunavanua (Ngamata), 8 pts Kamipeli Latu (Border), 7 pts Gabriel Hakaraia (Ruapehu) and Jack Yarrall (Marist).
Early Local Reflections
The current major redevelopment of the Sarjeant Art Gallery brings into consideration some elements of the early history in the Wanganui Rugby Football Union.
Earthworks for the new gallery extensions have revealed quite a few interesting artefacts from an area where upwards of 200 British Soldiers lived while stationed at the Rutland Stockade.
Overseas soldiers were in New Zealand between 1847 and 1870, mainly during the New Zealand wars era, with the 18th Royal Irish Brigade stationed in Wanganui in the same period that rugby was introduced to the country.
Wanganui was also protected by the York Stockade which was situated near the site of Cooks Gardens which was manned by the 65th Garrison.
The sport of rugby started at Rugby College, Warwickshire, in 1823, when, according to legend, a player picked up the ball during a game of football (soccer) and ran with it.
Thus rugby was introduced and being a physical contact sport it quickly proved popular with schoolboys and, being a good way of keeping people active and fit, it soon spread to the armed forces.
Rugby was brought to New Zealand by the British soldiers and proved a popular fitness exercise for the visiting troops during their postings in Wanganui.
There were early matches involving the military and local civilians as well as Town v Country and English v Scottish games.
The late Arthur Swan, who wrote extensively about NZRFU history, claimed the first recorded game of rugby played in New Zealand was in Nelson on May 14, 1870, between Nelson OB and Town.
But current New Zealand author Ron Palenski (Dunedin), a co-opted member of the Whanganui Sport Heritage Trust, states in his latest book "Our Game" that research of early Wanganui newspapers proves the first known fixture in the country was played at Aramoho between Country and Town in June, 1869.
The following Wanganui media reports prove there were local rugby matches played at least a year before the Nelson game –
Chronicle Oct 22 1868
Reported that Lieutenant Pearson (18th Royal Irish Regiment), who was injured in a recent football match, will be coming (to Wanganui) on the Sturt (ship) along with 10 other men and their wives.
Chronicle May 15 1869
"It will be seen that Mr Walker (Aramoho) intends celebrating the Queen's Birthday (May 24) in truly Saxton manner. The national pastime of football and steeplechasing are to be freely indulged in, besides a promised pigeon match (race), which altogether give promise of capital day's sport."
Chronicle May 18, 1869
Advertisement – Sports at Aramoho – A football match, together with hack races, will take place on Queen's Birthday, Monday, 24th May.
Evening Herald May 25 1869
"Queen's Birthday – The weather was slightly unpropitious yesterday, and the sports at Aramoho were not so well attended as they otherwise would have. A large number of the 8th Royal Irish were there and a football match was got up between 15 soldiers and 15 civilians. The former won easily. Several other matches came off."
Herald May 28 1869
"Football – A football match will be played tomorrow on the racecourse between 15 of the 18th Royal Irish and 15 civilians. This will be a match of more than usual interest and will be better contested than the one at Aramoho as the 15 of Wanganui have been selected with some care."
Herald, May 31 1869
Advert – Challenge. The Country will play the Town a match at football, to come off at Aramoho, on a day to be mutually agreed upon. John Walker, A Daniell.
Herald June 2 1869
Advert – Football Match. Country v Town. Town accepts the Country challenge provided the rugby rules are attended to.
Herald June 10 1869
Football match – The match between Town and Country at football will come off at Aramoho on 19th inst.
Herald June 21 1869
Sport at Aramoho – A trotting match and football match came off at Walker's on the 19th inst. The competitors were a grey horse of Mr W Gibson's and a mare from Napier, distance three miles from a point above Aramoho to the Aramoho hotel. Neither horse were very good trotters, and Mr Gibson's horse came in about 400 yards in front. Meanwhile a football match was going on between fifteen of the Town and same number of the Country. The match was very well contested and after two hours hard kicking was withdrawn, rain and darkness coming on. The match will be resumed on Saturday week.
Chronicle June 22 1869
Sports at Aramoho – The football match on Saturday was not terminated when night-fall brought the game to a termination. The Country side, however, seemed to have the best of it, having had the ball in the neighbourhood of the goal for some considerable time but were unable to kick it over the bar. The match is thus postponed for a fortnight. The running match did not come off as both competitors were disabled in the football match.
Arthur Carman had recorded that the first Wanganui match was in 1872 although there are reports of an 1871 game in the city involving an Armed Constabulary team against locals.
The Wanganui Pirates Rugby Club, formed in 1879, trained at the Keith St Fire Station and at an "Aramoho" field near the old Riverside Tavern.
Oldest Wanganui club is Wanganui & OB, formed in 1872.
The Wanganui RFU, formed in 1888, played its opening first class rep match against the touring British team on Oct 3rd that year, each side scoring a try in the 1-all draw at Victoria Park.
The first recorded squad lists in the media for a game in Wanganui, played near the Masonic Hotel on June 6, 1874, read –
English: C Pratt, C Powell, A Smith, J Thurston, J Williamson, T Bush, W D Shaw, T Shalders, W and A Symes, M Mason, H Rawson, W Kells, J Russell, A Stedman (captain).
Scottish: J Bennie, T Taylor, J Stevenson, A Montgomery, W Alexander, W Strachan, G Roberts, J J Anderson, G H Armstrong, R A Campbell, A Murray, A Reid, J Roberts, A C Macdonald (captain).
One of the Symes brothers scored the only goal of the match "landing the ball between the posts and just above the tape" to win the game 1-0 after the first game between the team had been scoreless.
The Chronicle started in 1856 and the Herald, which merged with the Chronicle in 1971, in 1867 (founded by John Ballance – later to become Prime Minister of New Zealand).