We hope you enjoy this look back as we look forward to many more years of recording the history of Thames Valley Rugby Union. We acknowledge all the information from the NZ “Rugby Almanack” Series from the season’s 1934 through to 2023 and appreciate their hard and dedicated work in providing this detailed history. – Web Admin

Acknowledgments to the NZ Rugby Almanack Franchise:

Back to Year by Year Index click here

2022 Season

2022 Status:
Heartland Championship
Founded 1922
K.J.(Kelly) Plummer
G.S. (Grant) Dickey
Brett Barnham (to August)
R.A. (Richard) Foster (interim)
D.P.(David) Harrison
& J.P.(Joe) Murray
Assistant Coach:
M.W. (Matthew) Bartleet,
M.J. (Matthew) Rolston
Main ground:
Paeroa Domain
Black, Gold and Red

After playing no first-class rugby in 2020 Thames Valley came back with a vengeance in 2021. The New Zealand Universities side was put to the test before seven straight victories were recorded in the Bunnings Warehouse Heartland Championship. This gave the Swamp Foxes 33 competition points and guaranteed Thames Valley a place in the Meads Cup final before they had played their last round robin match against Whanganui.

Covid-19 did have an impact on the team with some players becoming unavailable or having to relocate because of lockdowns. New recruits quickly adapted to a style of play based on a mobile forward pack and backs who had the ability to launch attacks from deep inside their own territory.

Although he only appeared in eight of the ten games Todd Doolan, at first five eighth, had an outstanding season. The former East Coast and North Harbour inside back accumulated 130 points to set a new Thames Valley record and scored five tries in the process. Joe Cooke returned home as the Player of Origin and proved his worth with deceptive running and solid defence. His fellow three quarters Tevita Halafihi, Will Newbold and Harry Lafituanai were always dangerous with the ball in hand. In the midfield Sam McCahon had a quieter season whereas Vakapuna Etoni became predictable with his charging runs and needs to vary his play.

Telly Hemopo was a skilful fullback and featured in many of the team’s counter attacks. Ben Bonnar and his understudy Leroy Neels were tradesman like halfbacks but at times both showed hesitancy in clearing the ball. The Whangamata five-eighth Tiaontin Raoren is a versatile and promising player. He is not a halfback but did well in this position when he replaced Neels against East Coast. He then scored fifteen points against Buller before a Covid-19 lock down in the Waikato region brought his season to an end.

Connor McVerry led the forwards by example and was matched in effectiveness by his companion lock Cameron Dromgool. With 2018 representative Christian Kelleher and then Luke Masirewa being locked down, Matt Axtens returned for a second season and he fulfilled the No.8 role admirably. Matt McCahon, Kei Fotofili, and Ben Stephens shared the flankers’ positions with distinction. In the front row the union was well served with Te Huia Kutia and Trinity McQueen establishing themselves as the preferred pairing. Former NZ Under 20 representative, Josh Kaho came back for the final three games after being in lockdown. Sam Van de Valk proved himself to be a vigorous and fiery hooker while Cody Muir made a successful transition from a five eighth to become the team’s second hooker. Ryan Leopold and Jack Kingsford provided excellent back up from the bench.

All in all it was a satisfactory season for David Harrison and Joe Murray as the new joint head coaches. It was obvious that the players took a great deal of pride in wearing the Valley colours and their enterprising rugby was appreciated by all the Swamp Fox fans. They retained the Centurions Cup against King Country and became the first holders of the Presidents’ Cup (presented by Ross Cooper) for matches between Thames Valley and Wairarapa Bush. The team was disadvantaged by a lack of height in the final two matches against Whanganui and South Canterbury in the Meads Cup final. However, they were a threat to Whanganui right to the end and overcame a slow start against South Canterbury to get back into the game before fading in the final quarter.

McVerry, Kutia, Van de Valk and Halafihi were all chosen for the New Zealand Heartland team and justified their selection with very good performances against the New Zealand Barbarians team.

Higher honours went to:
New Zealand Heartland: T.N. Halafihi, T.H.A.Kutia, C.E. McVerry, S.L. Van Der Valk

Click “result (0-0) ” for match details

2022 Results

Sat 23 Jul 3:00 pm H Non-1st Class Placeholder North Harbour Dev. Thames Valley RU 19 - 22
Sat 06 Aug 3:00 pm H Non-1st Class Placeholder Harlequins Thames Valley RU 29 - 29
Sat 20 Aug 3:00 pm A Heartland South Canterbury Thames Valley RU 23 - 17
Sat 27 Aug 3:00 pm H Heartland West Coast Thames Valley RU 36 - 26
Sat 03 Sep 3:00 pm A Heartland King Country Thames Valley RU 15 - 19
Sat 10 Sep 3:00 pm H Heartland Wairarapa Bush Thames Valley RU 37 - 19
Sat 17 Sep 3:00 pm A Heartland Buller Rugby Thames Valley RU 12 - 52
Sat 24 Sep 3:00 pm H Heartland North Otago Thames Valley RU 26 - 21
Sat 01 Oct 3:00 pm A Heartland Poverty Bay Thames Valley RU 29 - 17
Sat 08 Oct 3:00 pm H Heartland Horowhenua-Kapiti Thames Valley RU 43 - 44
Sat 15 Oct 3:00 pm A Heartland Whanganui Thames Valley RU 25 - 18

2022 Players

    Position PL
1222 Ben Stephens Loose Forward 0
1155 Ben T. Bonnar Halfback 0
1090 Blake Thomas Reid Hill Hooker 0
1236 Calum Wood Fullback 0
1185 Cameron M. Dromgool Lock 0
1245 Charlie Best 0
1187 Christian T. Kelleher Flanker 0
1161 Cody R.M. Muir Midfield 0
1148 Connor E. McVerry Loose Forward 0
1235 Dwayne Sweeney 0
1240 Ethan Dromgool Wing/Midfield 0
1196 Fred G.A.Kei Kei Fotofili Loose Forward 0
1243 Guy Lansdown 0
1175 Harry K. Lafituanai Outside Back 0
1244 Josh Tuhakaraina 0
1201 Laulea Mau Fangufangu Flanker 0
1220 Leroy Neels Inside Back 0
1241 Luke Gilbert 0
1237 Patrick Aislabie 0
1174 Sam S. McCahon Midfield 0
1218 Sione Vakapuna'Etoni Outside Back 0
1234 Tayne Tupaea Flanker 0
1239 Te Aonui Muirwai-Wharawhara 0
1219 Telly Hemopo Fullback 0
1216 Tevita Halafihi Wing 0
1215 Todd Doolan First Five 0
1221 Trinity McQueen Prop 0
1233 Tuakana Paitai Prop 0
1213 Tui JR Toai-Key Prop 0
1211 William T.K. 'Will' Newbold Wing 0
1242 Zac Stephens 0
1238 Zach Clarke 0
1232 Zane Heath Inside Back 0