News Rugby League Northland Develops Local Talent

Rugby League Northland Develops Local Talent

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Rugby League Northland Develops Local TalentRugby League Northland is pleased to announce the employment of Joe Rau to the position of Development Officer. Joe will be responsible for delivery of the NZRL Program Backyard League, as well as providing coaching development support for local clubs and schools.

The employment of Joe is just rewards after several years of service to Rugby League in Northland. Hailed as a future star in 1995 Joe was rewarded with a two year contract with the newly formed Auckland Warriors. As life has it the script doesn’t always go to plan with circumstances forcing him back to Northland and Rugby League taking less of a priority.

Like all League stalwarts he couldn’t ignore the draw of the game for too long, becoming a dominant full back/centre in the Northland WildboarsBartercard Cup team. In 2007 Joe took the coaching/player reins at Hikurangi Stags taking them to a Northland Premiership in 2009/2011. Not only has Joe developed a successful team at the Stags, but at the same time he has also developed a Galaxy touch club with six teams.

Joe’s employment as a Development Officer doubles the size of RLN Development Team. Joe joins Richard Koroi (Mid to Far North Development Officer), both Joe and Richard demonstrates RLN ability to provide pathways in League, both promising young players who ended up taking a another pathway in Rugby League.

RLN would like to acknowledge the support we receive from our community partners – ASB Community Trust, Oxford Trust, Sport Northland and Kiwi Sport.

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RLN General Manager recognised at Sport Northland awardsRLN General Manager recognised at Sport Northland awards

Sports Awards 2015

Alex Smits, RLN General Manager was humbled on Friday when he was awarded the Rowsells Collision Repair Leadership in Sport Award. The award recognises the most outstanding achievements/results by a sport leader in relation to their sport and/or the sport sector.

The award acknowledges the transformation that Rugby League has gone through in Northland since the creation of Rugby League Northland in 2010. In 2010 there were only 620 registered participants in Northland. In 2015 there have been 3472 registered participants, including a massive growth in clubs to 1723 registered players. In schools prior to 2010 there were no formal competitions, however in 2015 RLN has a sporting calendar to be proud of with 11 Colleges playing in the NorthTec Adam Blair Trophy, 38 Primary Schools playing in the Northland Champions festivals, amounting to 1749 players across all competitions.

RLN is represented on a National stage by the Northern Swords at 15s, 17s and Premier grades which provide a pathway to National Representation and the NRL, and each year Northland has a number of players that gain NRL cadetships. RLN delivers the nationally acclaimed Leadership through League program that sees community collaboration between RLN, Colleges and Primary schools through Tua-Kana Teina with college students coaching and mentoring primary school children. On the back of the increased activity, RLN has developed an organisation and governance model that will help drive the game into the future.

“I think that we have got the greatest sports product. It’s fast, exciting, end to end action combined with a tough physical component that requires speed, skill and team work. It’s a great vehicle to engage our communities and for the young, talented, committed players there is an achievable pathway to the NRL. I am proud of the steps that Rugby League has taken and I am honoured by the award, but the recognition must go out to the Northland League community, the RLN Staff and board, our clubs and our schools. League people are passionate about their sport, and the growth has come from their passion. All we needed was to get people working together and improve the structure.” Smits said.

Smits joined RLN at the beginning of 2012 and departs at the end of this year to new pastures as a Rural Real Estate agent. “It seems ironic to receive leadership award when I am leaving the organisation, however I think that as a leader you also need to know when to leave. I am confident that we have a good foundation in place, a good board to lead the organisation and it will provide a great opportunity to engage someone that has another skill set to mine.” Smits said reflecting on his departure as General Manager of RLN.

There was another Rugby League winner at the Northland Sports awards evening. Eli George won the Sport Northland Code Award for Rugby League recognising his achievement at Senior level. Representing the Northern Swords in the NZRL National Competition, George was the first ever Northern Swords player to be selected in the NZRL Residents Selection team, selected from the seven zones that competed in the National Competition. George, who played for the Hokianga Pioneers in the RLN Scott Electrical Premiership, lead the Northern Swords in a much improved season as a hard running hardworking Prop Forward.

It’s Finals Time!It’s Finals Time!

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It’s Finals time, the time of the year where emotions and passions will run high, it’s do or die and there’s no tomorrow. The RLN Scott Electrical Premiership was incredibly close this year with 7 teams vying for the 6 finals placings. My condolences go out to Muriwhenua Falcons who missed out by a narrow margin of 4 point in the for and against differentials with Otangarei Knights snatching 6th place.

The Knights are defending Champions, could 2015 be a replay of 2014 where the Knights also finished 6th but had a magical three week run?  Firstly they knocked out the Portland Panthers, then they upset the Takahiwai Warriors to reach the Grand Final to put a magical performance to come from 26 – 12 behind with less than 20 minutes to play to snatch a remarkable 28 – 26 win over the Hikurangi Stags.

The Hikurangi Stags have dominated the landscape over the last eight years winning 5 Premierships.  In 2015 they again look to be favourites going into the business end of the season winning the Minor Premiership. The Stags and Takahiwai Warriors (1st and 2nd) have week 1 of the finals series off. This weekend we see the Hokianga Pioneers come up against the Portland Panthers. Hokianga have had a strong finish to the season to cement 4th place while Portland’s form at the back end of the season has been indifferent. In our 2nd match of the Minor Semi-Finals, Moerewa Tigers will take on defending Champions, the Otangarei Knights. The Tigers led the Premiership for much of the season but have had a difficult back end to their season, however in the final round of the regular season they showed their class, narrowly going down to the Stags 24 – 20. If they can put in an 80 minutes performance they will be hard to beat.

This weekend also sees the Semi-Finals of the Championship Competition. 2015 is the first year that RLN has run a second tier senior competition. The Championship is an 8 team competition with 5 Premiership teams fielding reserve grades and three Non Premiership Clubs, Pawarenga, Otaua and Marist fielding teams. The Top Non-Premiership team in 2015 will gain promotion to the Premiership in 2016 (should criteria be met). The Championship Semis take place on Saturday August 1st with Pawarenga hosting Hikurangi at Broadwood and Takahiwai hosting Otaua, both games kick off at 2.30pm.

This week sees the last week of Mini Mods at the Bluegoose while a cut down version of Mini Mods continues at Lindvart Park on Wednesday evenings. However we have a North meets South Mini Tournament planned for 5th of September as part of the Swords festivities – Northern Swords Mini Mod Competition – 5th September 2015

On a final note please be a good supporter this weekend, it’s ok to be passionate, but It’s Not OK to be an EGG!