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2015 Season Highlights2015 Season Highlights

2015 was another solid year in the growth of Rugby League in Northland on and off the field!


Our final playing numbers have again grown 2,995 in 2014 to 3,472 in 2015. The growth can be attributed equally to the Leadership through League program and the Club competitions.


RLN continues to provide Northland kids an opportunity of playing Rugby League. Every school in Northland, Primary, Intermediate, Secondary, Kura Kaupapa or Area School has an opportunity to play Rugby League. In total, via our schools programs, we had 1,740 kids play in at least one meaningful game of Rugby League.

A highlight of the Northland sporting calendar is the NorthTec Adam Blair Trophy (NABT) our Secondary Schools competition.

We had 11 teams compete for the prized tahonga (an increase of 1 team) with a massive crowd flocking to Kaikohe on a weekday to watch Whangarei Boys High School win the trophy that they last held in 2012. Our Adam Blair XIII selection played the Warriors Academy in their annual fixture. For the first half they looked as if an upset was on the cards only for the Warriors to show their class and take the game 44-16.


The Leadership through League programme continues RLN’s strategic plan, embracing our Mantra ”More than just a game.”

Using Rugby League as a vehicle, we have qualified 203coaches (v 159 in 2014), who in turn have coached over 3,541 (v 2,996 in 2014) Primary School kids in 38 Primary Schools across Northland.

On the back of the program 38 Primary Schools participated in a Northland Champions Festival in their area in either Year 4 – 6 or 7 – 8, with Whau Valley and Whangarei Intermediate both retaining their titles from 2014.


Club League was again vibrant especially in the Mini Mod Grades. The Bluegoose every Sunday was a great place to be, with over 45 junior teams (approx. 650 kids) playing every week.

RLN has never been afraid to be innovative and in the Mid North in 2014 Junior League was floundering with only 9 teams across three grades played on Sundays. So we changed things up and invited schools to join the club league and played it on a Wednesday night in Kaikohe with an amazing turnout of 25 Teams across four grades. This year also saw the launch of a Senior, second tier competition, with eight teams across Northland playing in the inaugural RLN Championship.

The Championship saw the relaunch of the Pawarenga Broncos, Otaua Valleys and Marist Brothers into Senior Rugby League along with Takahiwai Warriors, Hikurangi Stags, Moerewa Tigers, Horahora Broncos and Otangarei Knights fielding reserve teams. The highlight of the year would have to be the “RLN Scott Electrical Premiership” finals series.

With over 2,500 people flocking to Toll Stadium for the Club Grand Final Day with the Hikurangi Stags winning 20 – 16 over the Takahiwai Warriors, in a triple extra time thriller! In the Championship Final, Otaua Valleys defeated the Pawarenga Broncos 28 -12 to gain promotion to the Premiership for 2016.

Both the games were live streamed by Channel North TV, with on field presentations from our very own Mayor Sheryl Mai.


The Northern Swords representative program continues to provide a gateway to the NRL. All teams showed a major improvement and thanks to our wonderful funders, were well resourced in terms of their preparation and transport needs. The Premier team showed a massive improvement on the field. Even though they didn’t win a game, they won the hearts of Northland, narrowly losing in the dying seconds to the Wellington Orcas and pushing Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions and the Rockcote Canterbury Bulls all the way.

The result of the improved season saw Eli George becoming the first Northlander to be selected in the NZ Residents team and Kawana Marsden making his test debut for the NZ Universities.

Our 15s and 17s, collectively, had their best ever tournament at the NZRL “Got a Trade Got it Made” National tournament. Both teams finished 6th (out of 8). The highlight being Paul Turner, named as U15s Player of the Tournament. For the first time ever we had three players named in the Tournament Teams with Paul Turner and Dylan Brown (U15s) and Te Kahi Nathan (U17s). While U15s Coach Joe Rau was named U15s Coach of the Tournament.

James Fisher-Harris and Corey Harawira-Naera were instrumental and represented Northland with pride as they won the NYC U20s with the Penrith Panthers. As a result of their success, Phil Gould Rugby League super-coach made a firestop visit to NZ, specially to see Northland, resulting in Caleb Aekins joining his ex-team mates in Penrith.


The RLN Referees Association made some good strides forward, their numbers have grown from 12 active referees to 17. Tane Kaiwai, Taylor Waenga and Nick Waihi all gained National Recognition being invited to referee at NZRL National Tournaments with Tane Kaiwai named Referees Referee at the NZRL 15s and 17s National Tournament.


Financially, RLN has continued to evolve. For the fifth year in a row RLN is set to make a surplus. We have developed good relationships with a number of local funders and also securing partnerships with high profile commercial organisations with naming rights agreements; NorthTec Adam Blair Trophy, Jennian Homes Junior Rugby League and the RLN Scott Electrical Premiership.


RLN continues to develop the Rugby League Brand in Northland. This year saw us work with Channel North to broadcast and stream live four games, including the RLN Scott Electrical Premiership and RLN Championship Finals, the Northern Swords v Canterbury Bulls and the Final Trade of Origin Game.


Four Nations – Test Tickets Now on SaleFour Nations – Test Tickets Now on Sale

Test tickets now on sale – Sports Fans in Northland, the message is simple.  Fill the stadium and we will get more International League.  NZ and Australia are joint hosts of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup – if the Test between the Kiwis and Samoa on November the 1st is a success then we are sure to host the World Cup here as well.

The match is going to be a cracker packed full of NRL stars on both sides.

November 1

NZ Kiwis v Toa Samoa, Whangarei

A Reserve – adults $35, children $20

B Reserve – adults $20, children $10, family $50

Available through Ticketek

Semi-Finals Excitement!Semi-Finals Excitement!

IMG_7702 IMG_7693 Tamati Dick Try for NW Bulls Joe Rau coming in for first try








Joe Rau, player/coach and co-captain was a class act as Hikurangi set up a 2012 Grand Final replay with the Moerewa Tigers at Toll Stadium this Saturday.  The Stags defeated the Northern Wairoa Bulls 40 – 20 on Saturday in the RLN Premiership Semi-Final Qualifier.  The score line wasn’t a true reflection of the nature of the game as the Bulls never looked like they were out of the contest.

The injury depleted Bulls never gave an inch to the Stags.  Prop – Solomone Palu, Loose Forward – Jake Mau and Full Back – Israel Tahere, were outstanding in a very strong team performance.  But it was the Joe Rau show as he directed his team round field capping of an impressive performance with two great tries.  Rau was backed up older brother Steven Rau leading from the front and the speed of Innocent Tuimavave.

Defending champions, the Hikurangi Stags, will now face Minor Premiers the Moerewa Tigers in a replay of the 2012 Grand Final, in what is set to be an epic encounter.

The other Semi-Final Qualifier between the Hokianga Pioneers and the City Knights demonstrated everything that is Finals Football.  Big hits, explosive running, end to end tries, jubilation and heartbreak are all words that don’t justly describe the encounter.  It was the Pioneers who controlled most of the game through a more disciplined graft.  The Knights who were the RLN Premiership surprise package struggled to find any rhythm in the game as their flamboyant style just didn’t click.  On the other hand, the Pioneers kept to the game plan and chugged their way to what seemed like a match winning 26 – 16 lead with 13 minutes left to play.

However all was not to be plain sailing, on the 67th minute, centre – Pouri Hohaia was sin-binned for lifting in the tackle.  What resulted in the last 13 minutes was nothing short of sensational.  The sin-binning motivated the Knights into action and passes started to stick.

Firstly, Michael Rauahi made a break from the 60m line – jinking and bustling his way over the try line under the posts, then on the back of impressive half – Herewini Edmonds. Then, leading his team up the field, Lawerence Morrell smashed his way over the near the posts.  With both conversions successful the Knights somehow were in front for the first time in the match 28 – 26 with 3 minutes left on the clock.

From a short kick off, the Pioneers managed to get the ball back with the Knights giving away a penalty in front of the sticks.  Hokianga skipper, Richard Koroi strangely elected not to kick for goal?  With less than 30 seconds left on the clock, Pouri Hohaia who was earlier sin-binned turned from villain into hero as he capped off a slick back line move to bust his way over the try line to snatch the victory from luckless Knights 32 – 28.

The Pioneers now face the Takahiwai Warriors in the second major semi final.

Premier Semi-Finals August 3rd – Toll Stadium

1.00pm – Hokianga Pioneers v Takahiwai Warriors

3.00pm – Hikurangi Stags v Moerewa Tigers

See attachment for details of dates and times of all finals games – Finals Fever