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TVRFU :2020 Year in Review

Thames Valley Rugby Football Union (TVRFU)
2020 Year in Review:

The TVRFU have enjoyed many highs & lows throughout the 2020 year, and plans were put in place to create a calendar which would satisfy everybody involved throughout our rugby community including a wide range of events, competitions and programmes, so here is our 2020 year in review:

Coaching Courses:
A Foundation Level 1 coaching course took place at Hauraki Plains College, which was designed to give coaches the next steps to progress their coaching knowledge. From learning the principles of play, to learning the ethics of coaching and teaching individual skills, this course is a great opportunity to start your coaching pathway & we would encourage you to attend this course in 2021.

The TVRFU and Waikato RFU hosted a DRC Level 2 Coaching course in Whangamata, where 20 promising coaches wanting to upskill and learn new coaching methods attended. This was a fantastic few days & we have really enjoyed watching the attendees progress as coaches in their team environments throughout the year.

Rugby Smart & Small Black courses were compulsory to all coaches and managers. The RDO team decided on a revamped course design, including a lot more practical & video learning, which seemed to be very well received around the region. With each of the courses going for 1.5 Hours (max) we would like to thank everyone who attended for bringing a great attitude to each of these sessions.

Club Rugby:
As everything was going smoothly, club rugby teams were wrapping up their preseason matches and getting excited for their first round of competition, Covid-19 landed. The next two months would prove to be challenging, with the TVRFU staff working endlessly to try and provide a positive outlook for the remainder of 2020 and beyond.

With the cancellation of the 2020 Heartland Championship, this meant that the Club competition could run later in the year, and with several options been laid on the table, the local derby and one round competition took place and was well received by all clubs and players. The Senior A & Senior B competitions were hotly contested and went right down to the wire to decide who the Top 4 would be.  It was a historic year for many reasons, but the McClinchy Cup heading up the coast to Whangamata was a highlight with it been the first time in Whangamata Rugby Club history they would hold the distinctive McClinchy Cup, beating COBRAS 21-15 in the final. Coromandel won the Senior B competition, defeating Tairua 23-15 in the final and they will deservedly be back in the Senior A Competition in 2021, which will be great for the club and competition.

The Club 7s at Waihi Athletic Rugby Club welcomed nine clubs to compete, with a great standard of talent taking to the field throughout the day. Mercury Bay & COBRAS made it through to the final, with Mercury Bay the favourites showing good form in pool play and having more depth in player numbers from their opposites. Mercury Bay proved to good in the end claiming victory 31-7.

Secondary Schools:
It was decided that the Secondary School Competitions would take place in Term 3, and it was kicked off with a new tournament on the calendar, the Secondary School 10s at the Paeroa Domain. Twenty-one teams attended the inaugural tournament, with an exciting announcement taking place before the commencement of the tournament. The TVRFU were pleased to announce that the Thames Valley Rugby Board decided to cover all Secondary School affiliation fees and to give each Secondary School $2,000 to help cover expenses, provide support and ease financial pressures caused by Covid-19. Following the announcement, Waihi College eventually won the U15 Boys competition, Mercury Bay Area School took home the Open Girls competition and visiting school Katikati College won the Open Boys competition.

Normal 15-aside competitions then commenced and went exceptionally well,  which was reflected on Finals Day at Waihi Athletic where four outstanding matches were played.

Well done to following schools and teams who took home the honours of their respective competitions;

Coulter Cup (1st XV Boys Champions) – Hauraki Plains College 1st XV
TVRFU Secondary Schools Trophy (1st XV Girls Champions) – Mercury Bay Area School 1st XV
Berry Cup (U15 Boys Champions) – Mercury Bay Area School U15 & Waihi College U15
Allan Fisher Cup (1st XV Boys Plate) – Whangamata Area School 1st XV
Bob Passey Cup (U15 Boys Plate) – Te Aroha College U15

Finally, the Secondary School 7s took place at Thames Rugby & Sports Club to round off the Secondary School Tournaments for 2020. A large number of schools competed, with some great talent on show in all competitions. It was a great day for Mercury Bay Area School winning the U15 Boys and Open Boys competitions, whilst their Open Girls qualified for the Condor 7s in Auckland, however visiting school Matamata College ended up victorious.

Junior Rugby:
With the decision to have no trophies played for, it took the competitive pressure off players & coaches, whilst also meaning Covid-19 was to be engraved on ALL Junior Rugby trophies. Later kick off times had positive and negative affect’s on teams with the odd clash with secondary school & club rugby, whilst giving parents more of a sleep in or opportunity to work on a Saturday morning. The inclusion of Festival Days was positive with the comradery between clubs and teams noticeable and the atmosphere of having more people at an event rather evident.

Primary School Tackle Day took place at the Ngatea Domain, with a huge number of entries in all competitions. Well done to the following teams who were victorious;
Year 5&6 Girls – Ngatea Primary School
Year 5&6 Boys – Mercury Bay Area School
Year 7&8 Girls – Mercury Bay Area School
Year 7&8 Boys – Hikutaia/Netherton Combined Schools

The representative scene kicked off a lot earlier than expected, when the exciting opportunity to host two Argentinian teams arised. Two invitational Thames Valley teams playing under the U16 & U18 age-groups played against the Curne Rugby Club U16 & U18 teams. Both games were played in great spirits, with the different cultures & language barriers a real talking point for our young players after the game. The U16s were involved in a close tussle, with the scores even at 5-5 at halftime. It stayed this way throughout the course of the match, however the Thames Valley U16s kicked a crucial penalty with little time on the clock to secure a 20-17 victory. Following this match, the Thames Valley U18s began the match with a spine-tingling Haka. Curne raced out to a quick 16-0 lead in not a lot of a time, taking advantage of the poor discipline from the Thames Valley U18s. Unfortunately, this was to much of a lead to peg back going down 30-10.

With the cancellation of the 2020 Heartland Championship, the ‘Swampfoxes’ made the sensible decision to not play any representative rugby. This meant the one-off Thames Valley Thunder U23s would take to the field, with an exciting bunch of upcoming talent taking to the field in the Chiefs Under 20s Development Programme. Matches against Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Waikato and Counties Manukau U20s saw vast improvement with a special acknowledgement going to Trinity McQueen who was named in the Chiefs U20s wider training squad.

The Thames Valley Maori team came together after a 20-year absence for a one-off match against the Thames Valley U23s. Although the result didn’t go their way, it was fantastic to see a squad of 22 players from throughout the region come together, with a special after match function taking place at the Pai O Hauraki Marae, with a special mention going to the Wilkinson Whanau for hosting this occasion.

The Thames Valley U16s had a somewhat different campaign to normal, with the highlight been a Chiefs Carnival day in Cambridge hosting shortened matches to showcase the upcoming talent. Leading up to the tournament they played 3 matches, with a great victory against a Bay of Plenty Country team & tough loss against Counties Manukau U16 Maori. Although the team didn’t gain a victory at the Carnival Day, they will take a lot of positives moving into the 2021 representative season.

To wrap up the representative scene, a real success of the 2020 season was the kick start of the Thames Valley Women’s Vixens programme. After a six-week campaign sponsored by Bayley’s Real estate, this gained the interest of a lot of ladies wanting to further their rugby aspirations. This meant the appointment of Josh Kewell to lead and coach the Vixens 7s campaign, playing in two tournaments in Tauranga and Te Aroha. Well done to all involved, and we look forward to seeing the success continue in 2021.

Thank you from the TVRFU Staff:
On behalf of the TVRFU Staff, we would like to thank you all for your patience and commitment towards Rugby in the Thames Valley. It hasn’t been the easiest of years for several reasons, but I think we can all agree that some good things have come out of 2020 that will continue to take place in the years ahead.

Have a great Christmas with family & friends and have a safe New Year. We look forward to seeing you out and about around the traps in 2021.