Message from our Chairman

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Walter Wells

Walter Wells

2015 was the first year as Chairman of the Rugby League Northland Board.  I joined the board in 2014. It’s a privilege to have the support of the Board as Chair and lead a committed Board of Directors that have a strong representation across Northland.

2015 was another robust year for Rugby League in Northland.  Again we have seen an increase in playing numbers, we have seen the profile of the game grow with the RLN Scott Electrical Premiership Finals and the Swords v Canterbury Bulls games broadcast and streamed live via Channel North.

Again we have seen an increase in playing numbers, we have seen the profile of the game grow with the RLN Scott Electrical Premiership Finals attracting great interest and solid crowds. The Swords v Canterbury Bulls games broadcast and streamed live via Channel North and one of the better seasons yet from the Premier Swords team.


RLN had the highest participation per capita in NZ Table






The launch of the Championship bought depth to the senior competition by providing another level of competition for senior players.  It allowed for new and existing clubs to bring more players to the game and support growth and development of Clubs and the game.

2015 also saw the emergence of new junior clubs.

Well done to all the Clubs and administrators for your effort and commitment to have your teams compete.

Financial Performance

RLN had another solid and consistent financial performance largely a result of the hard work and prudent fiscal approach taken to build a solid foundation for sustainability.

The recent release of Sport NZ’s Community Funding plan will impact all of the Rugby League Zones financially and operationally. The degree and nature of that changes is yet to be confirmed. But it is fair to say the prudent approach to building reserves provides RLN a bit of “space” to work through the implications of the pending impacts.

Northland Swords

All our representative teams had improved performances on the field resulting in a number of players receiving national recognition and a pathway to the NRL.  In 2016 we look to launch an Academy which will provide further opportunities.

Premier Sword’s season was one of its best on field performances after a shaky start with some positive signs to build from for the future. Acknowledgement to Jon and Edward for their efforts with the Swords as we look forward to the new National Premiership Competition which could see more consistent competitive games and opportunities for Northland players.

The U15 and U17s teams achieved their highest place finishes at their respective national tournaments. Well done to these junior players and coaching staff.

Other national fixtures:

WBHS performed very gallantly at the National Secondary Schools Tournament and were very unlucky not to finish higher than they did with some extremely close results that could have gone either way.


RLN GM received the leadership in sport award at the Northland Sports Awards. Well done to Alex Smits for that achievement. It is a fair representation of his commitment to the game.

Northland Rugby League, Life Member, Graham Pitts received National honours in the form of an NZRL Distinguished Service Award. The “Spy on the Bank” reporter and local rugby league historian is a much-deserved recipient for services to the game. A well overdue recognition.

  • Caleb Aekin signed with Penrith Panthers
  • Nathan Newton signed with the NZ Warriors
  • Bayleigh Bentley-Hape signed with Sydney Roosters
  • Paul Turner was named player of the tournament at the National under 15 tournament (the 15s most successful tournament to date). Paul, along with Dylan Brown were both named in the tournament team.
  • Joe Rau was named coach of the tournament.
  • Te Kahi Nathan was named in the U17s National Tournament team
  • Tane Kaiwai was named Referees Referee of the Tournament.

Trade of Origin

The trade of origin continues to grow in interest and provides another vehicle to build a positive profile of the game.


In 2016 we face a number of challenges and opportunities:

Staff movements

With change takes a period of adjustment as new staff find their feet and make the roles their own. We are pleased to have the calibre of Duane and Cara on board at RLN while we also acknowledge the dedication and commitment Alex and Toni gave to the game.

Far North / Taitokerau Rugby League

This is a big issue that needs to be worked through. A unified rugby league community is a better outcome for our game and our rugby league community.

On more positive notes:

The Warriors fixture was yet another opportunity to build the profile of the game. The community engagement were well received and attended as was the game. We look forward to more opportunities to host NRL Clubs and games in the future.

The Adam Blair School competition has been a huge success with increased interest from schools and high quality performances on the field.

Finally on behalf of the board I would like to thank all the players and many volunteers for your hard work and commitment to our game and look forward to your ongoing support as we work through the challenges and opportunities before us all.

Walter Wells, Chairman RLN Board





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