Traditionally, Easter has been a busy time for club rugby, with several inter-provincial club tournaments run along Marist, Old Boys and Universities rugby lines, as well as a number of annual club exchanges. The national top four ‘Champion of Champions’ tournament also took place over Easter, which pitted some of the previous year’s champions leading sides against each other in an unofficial NZ club tournament.
Club rugby competitions in most regions have started up for 2016, notable exceptions being Taranaki, Auckland (competition proper), North Harbour, Canterbury and Southland, which kick off next weekend.
Waikato and Counties Manukau were two unions already into week three of their competitions.
Counties Manukau played their third round of the Challenge Cup over Easter. Onehwhero and Patamahoe are the two unbeaten teams so far, Onewhero defeating Weymouth 104-7 – 16 tries to 1 – and Patamahoe overcoming Ardmore Marist 39-13.
Otorohanga and Hautapu are the two unbeaten teams after three rounds in Waikato, after Hautapu came from behind to beat Melville 21-16, a late try and death-knock defence winning the day, and Otorohanga edged Te Awamutu 17-14. Hamilton Old Boys and University each earned their second wins, HOB defeating Hamilton Marist 24-8 and University beating Fraser Tech 24-13.
Other unions, such as Hawke’s Bay, Bay of Plenty, Wellington and Otago, started their competitions over Easter.
The first round of the first round Premier Nash Cup first round-robin competition got underway in Hawke’s Bay on Friday, featuring a win for defending Nash Cup champions Taradale and a good old upset for Clive over Hastings Rugby & Sports.
Taradale defeated last year’s beaten second round championship finalists Havelock North 22-17, while Clive, who won three times in 18 matches last season, upset perennial contenders Hastings 26-17. Elsewhere, Napier Old Boys Marist held off a fast-finishing MAC 33-29 and defending Maddison Trophy winners Napier Pirates squeezed past Tamatea 13-8.
2015 Bay of Plenty Baywide champions Tauranga Sports kicked off their new season with a 52-12 win over Opotiki, while perennial contenders Mount Maunganui defeated Arataki 28-10. Whakatane Marist had the day’s biggest win, beating Paroa 71-7.
Wellington champions Old Boys-University sunk the 2015 Premier 2 winners the Upper Hutt Rams 39-5, while big guns Marist St Pat’s were given a fright by minnows Paremata-Plimmerton before winning 33-23 and Northern United celebrated the renaming of their home ground to Jerry Collins Stadium by beating Petone 32-28.
In Dunedin, Metropolitan Premier rugby that started up on Thursday. University A opened its title defence with a 63-7 win over Alhambra-Union. There were some close games elsewhere, including Pirates coming from behind to pip Green Island 27-26 and Dunedin edging Harbour 36-24 with a late seven-pointer.
There was a round of matches in Northland over Easter, spread over three days. Old Boys Marist made it two from two by defeating last year’s beaten finalists Mid Northern 25-10 on Thursday. Last year’s champions Wellsford beat Hora Hora 40-12, while the other three matches were much closer.
Down in Manawatu, 2015 champions College Old Boys, Kia Toa and Old Boys-Marist all won their second games comfortably, while Fielding Yellows beat Feilding Old Boys-Oroua 22-5 in their Feilding derby.
In Nelson, defending champions Wanderers made it two from two with a 41-0 victory over Marist and it was a similar story in Marlborough where last year’s winners Moutere defeated East Coast 51-14.
National club rugby results: March 24-26, 2016
Old Boys-Marist 25 Mid Northern 10
Western Sharks 19 Mid-Western 16
Hikurangi 20 Waipu 18
Wellsford 40 Hora Hora 12
Kamo 29 Otamatea 19
Bombay 66 Papakura 5
Te Kauwhata 13 Drury 7
Patumahoe 39 Ardmore-Marist 13
Onewhero 104 Weymouth 7
Karaka 48 Manurewa 11
Pukekohe 26 Waiuku 5
Bay of Plenty
Mount Maunganui 28 Arataki 10
Te Puna 26 Greerton Marist 5
Rangataua 25 Te Puke Sports 15
Whakatane Marist 71 Paroa 7
Tauranga Sports 52 Opotiki 12
Whakarewarewa 36 Rotoiti 26
United Matamata Sports 36 Morrinsville Sports 23
Otorohanga 17 Te Awamutu Sports 14
University 24 Fraser Tech 13
Hamilton Old Boys 24 Hamilton Marist 8
Hautapu 21 Melville 16
(Tui Nash Cup)
Clive 26 Hastings Rugby and Sports 17
Taradale 22 Havelock North 17
Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports 13 Tamatea 8
Napier Technical 26 Central 25
Napier Old Boys-Marist 33 MAC 29
Feilding 22 Feilding Old Boys-Oroua 5
Old Boys-Marist 56 Freyberg 0
Kia Toa 48 Varsity 26
College Old Boys 48 Te Kawau 26
Wellington 32 Tawa 19
Poneke 28 Wainuiomata 26
Northern United 32 Petone 28
Marist St Pat’s 33 Paremata-Plimmerton 23
Old Boys-University 39 Upper Hutt Rams 5
Avalon Wolves 11 Oriental-Rongotai 11
Hutt Old Boys-Marist 64 Johnsonville 7
(Tasman Trophy division one)
Wanderers 41 Marist 0
Nelson 33 Waimea Old Boys 8
Kahurangi 21 Stoke 17
Central 41 Renwick 15
Harlequins 24 Waitohi 22
Moutere 51 East Coast 14
Canterbury Country/Mid Canterbury
Saracens 18 Kaiapoi 14
Ashley 25 Oxford 24
West Melton 20 Methven 13
Burnham/Dunsandel/Irwin 14 Glenmark 6
Lincoln 26 Hampstead 10
Southbridge 53 Rolleston 3
Waihora 56 Hornby 0
Rakaia 10 Darfield 3
Ohoka 25 Prebbleton 12
Celtic 35 Southern 15
Upper Clutha 17 Matakanui Combined 12
Maniototo 20 Wakatipu 14
Cromwell 26 Alexandra 15
Clyde-Earnscleugh 94 Roxburgh 0
Pirates 27 Green Island 26
Dunedin 36 Harbour 34
Taieri 55 Zingari-Richmond 24
Southern 33 Kaikorai 7
University A 63 Alhambra-Union 7
*On April 2, North Harbour, Thames Valley, East Coast, Poverty Bay, Taranaki, Wanganui, Wairarapa-Bush, Horowhenua Kapiti, Buller, West Coast, Canterbury, South Canterbury, North Otago and South Otago kick off their premier club seasons.