Swords Campaign 2013

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Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was Rugby League Northland.  Since the beginning of the competition in 2010 the Northern Swords have progressively improved.  2012 showed improvement with some of the following achievements:

  1. None of the squads used more than 25 players
  2. Three main premier players made the step-up from 2012 17s squad – Ricky Toby, Jaden Hape, Tyson Wihongi
  3. We equalled the record of 2011’s two wins, however no dispensations used for 15s – 17s 2012, namely, 15s victory over Mid Central and the 17s victory over Waicoa Bays (17’s first victory!)

However, the Premiers struggled and we have yet to win at Premier Grade. Rugby League Northland is trying to address this issue and as a part of our “Whole of Sport” plan we are working on creating a High Performance Strategy for Northland 2013 – 2015 (with a reassessment in 2015).

The main focus will be on the youth.  At Premier level, Jim Larkin has been given the head coach role.  Jim has a proven success record with Northland age-grade teams and has been responsible for bringing players like Sam McKendry and Elijah Taylor through the grades.  His focus and vision for the Premiers is to bring the younger players through the ranks. In 2012 three players made the step up from 17s to Premiers (Ricky Toby, Jaden Hape, Tyson Wihongi) and Jim hopes to continues this trend.  This year in the RLN Premiership players like, Brodie Palmer (Moerewa), David McCullough and Joachim Edmonds (Hikurangi) are proving that not only they can compete at Premier level but they are some of the stronger performers.

“If you have a look at Premier League in Wellington and Auckland you will find that the bulk of the teams are now made up of 18 – 22 year olds combined with the older journeymen providing support and vision around them. We are developing some good initiatives in Northland around College League and College rep teams – our vision is to get these boys playing 18s and then move into the RLN Premiership.  We have the talent – we just need to upskill the players and our over all coaching structures”  RLN General Manager – Alex Smits said.

Combining with the overall Strategy has been the employment of Jon Renes as the RLN Northland – NorthTec Rugby League Academy.  Jon will also take the role as Director of Coaching.  His role will be to make sure that all three Swords teams work off the same page.  Jon will be linking with NZRL Director of Coaching, Tony Iro, as well as the Warriors, to ensure that best practises are put in place for players and coaches.

Most of the Swords coaching staff have now been confirmed.  New to the 2013 will be the inclusion of selectors with a North and South Selector in each grade to report in to Jon and their respective Head Coach.

Northern Swords 15s Northern Swords 18s Northern Swords Premiers
Head Coach Joe Rau Benson Selwyn Jim Larkin
Manager tbc Avis Stewart tbc
Selector South Free Pitman John Komene Shane Hool
Selector North Tane Kaiwai Jim Larkin Phil Marsh
Trainer Willie Dickson


The Northern Swords play in the NZRL National Provincial competition.  The 17’s and Premiers play over a 6 week period and play fixtures across NZ.  New for 2013 will be the 15’s National Tournament week with a week long residential tournament that will follow the NZRL motto of more than Just a Game incorporation lifestyle and rugby league workshops and League competition in an intense full Rugby League immersion camp!

Key Dates for Swords 2013

Date What Who Where
7th July 2013 RLN Performance Camp 30 players – 15s and 17s invited to attend Kensington Park
16th – 17th July Inter-district Tournament 15s and and 17s Rotorua
25th August Round 1 – Northern Swords vs South Island Scorpions Toll Stadium
30th Sept – 5th Oct 15s National Tournament Week 15s Papakura

Click here for the Northern Swords Draws

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NZRL Secondary School Rugby League NationalsNZRL Secondary School Rugby League Nationals

WBHS with Shaun Johnson

Whangarei Boys High School as NorthTec Adam Blair winners, have been representing Northland at the Secondary School Nationals. Dealt a huge blow before the tournament began, with Caleb Aekins ruled out injured.

However the boys should be proud of the they way they played all week. In a pool against Westlake Boys they were leading 10-0 at half time before they ended up losing 20-10. Against 2013 finalists Otahuhu, they were again leading at half time before Otahuhu’s huge pack snatched the game away with two late tries to win 18-6.  Then they narrowly lost to Aorere 16 – 4.  Which placed them against Papatoetoe in the cross over game for placings where they lost in a golden point thriller 11 – 10.  It was almost as if Boys High couldn’t win a trick.  Their final was in a playoff for 15th and 16th where they faced Rosehill College and all the week’s near losses came to a head and Boys High pulled out a can of kick but handing Rosehill a 56 – 0 thrashing.

The week long tournament is a highlight on the NZRL Sporting Calendar and it is considered one of Secondary Schools best tournaments.  Along the way Boys High rubbed shoulders with Shaun Johnson and will be appearing on Code on Maori TV next week.

On another positive note three RLN Referees also attended the tournament fine tuning their whistle skills.  They were Tane Kaiwai, Taylor Waenga and Nick Waihi.

Click here for all tournament details.

It All Comes Down to the Final WeekIt All Comes Down to the Final Week

It All Comes Down to the Final Week!

It’s been a compelling RLN Premiership.  With one round to play, only three points separate 1st place and 5th place.

The Moerewa Tiger’s 34 – 14 victory over the Muriwhenua Kuaka will confirm the Tigers as Minor Premiers as the Tigers have the BYE in the final round. If the Kuaka were able to upset the Tigers it would have meant they had a mathematical chance of still making the top 6, they gave everything in a tough and physical encounter – however the Tigers showed too much class in the end.

Takahiwai stay in second place after a hard fought win over the Horahora Broncos 42 – 16.  The Broncos who have been very competitive in the last few weeks pushed the Warriors all the way – after going into half time with the scores even.  But it was the Warrior’s experience and structured game plan that saw them win.

Takahiwai will need to be on form to beat Hikurangi in what will be the match of the round with the winner taking 2nd place.  The Hikurangi Stags look to have rediscovered their form with the return of player/coach Joe Rau with a 40 – 26 win over the Portland Panthers.  The game befitted a semi-final atmosphere, Portland needed to win to stay in the top 6.  Portland now needs results to go their way to play finals football.

The City Knights jumped over the Panthers to take 6th place with a 38 – 26 win over the Northern Wairoa Bulls.  City, for many, are considered to be the dark horses of the RLN Premiership.  When they fire, they fire.  The Bulls who two weeks ago were on top of the table now sit in 5th place with back to back losses.  The Bulls play the Panthers in the final round, the Panthers need to win and will need Horahora to upset the Knights to take 6th place.

In the other match of the round Kerikeri were moments away from winning their first game in 2013, but it wasn’t to be with Otaua winning 28 – 26.

RLN Premiership Points Table

Hikurangi Stags through to FinalHikurangi Stags through to Final

In the Northland Premier Rugby League competition on Saturday 4th August Hikurangi Stags comfortabley defeated Moerewa Tigers 32 -18 to gain a place in the Grand Final at Toll Stadium on August 18th.  Hikurangi will be looking for back to back titles.

Moerewa Tigers live to fight another day and will play the Northern Wairoa Bulls who defeated Hokinanga Pioneers 30 – 18 in a thrilling encounter.