Sevens salute to Wootton
Derek Wootton’s passion for rugby will live on when an inaugural rugby sevens competition named in his honour is held at Porirua Park next week.
The rugby-mad policeman was killed in July 2008 when putting down road spikes in Titahi Bay to stop a fleeing driver who had committed an aggravated robbery.
A memorial trust was set up in 2009 as a visible way to help young people in the Porirua community open doors in their cultural, academic or sporting lives.
Teenage football star Tessa Mcpherson has been among the recipients of a grant from the trust, as have The Fource barbershop quartet and a group of young waka ama paddlers who attended overseas competitions.
The May 9 sevens tournament will be the most visible example of what the trust wants to accomplish: showcasing youth achievement and engagement between police and the community, says co- organiser sergeant Dean Silvester.
‘‘ Since we started the trust, members of the police and public have been really generous with donations and we have held fundraising breakfasts to keep it ticking along. We really want to increase its profile and hope that this tournament can become an annual event.’’
Although first XV rugby has started and May 9 is the same day as the first Beard Trophy match of the season, Porirua, Tawa, Mana, Bishop Viard and Aotea colleges are expected to field competitive teams to contest the Derek Wootton Memorial Trophy.
There will also be sides from Porirua Alternative School and the police.
Like Mr Silvester, a longserving member of the Norths premier side in the 1990s, Mr Wootton was passionate about his rugby.
He played in Bishop Viard College’s first XV and club rugby in Porirua from 1977 to 1983.
‘‘He was a big rugby player back in his day and he would be proud to know that a trust in his name is making a difference in kids’ lives.
The feedback we’ve had from people has been really positive and we hope to increase that community buy-in.’’
There will also be a gala fundraiser evening for the trust at Pataka on May 29, featuring an auction and special guest All Black coach Steve Hansen.
Search for ‘ Derek Wootton Trust’ on Facebook for more details.
The sevens tournament will have a round-robin format, with the two top teams contesting the final. It begins at 9.30am, May 9, and is expected to finish at 4.30pm.
Magnificent sevens: Jack Fa’aea (Porirua), Tony Coburn (Tawa), Dylan Tuiavi’i (Aotea), Jessie Kirikino, Joe Kirk (Mana), Junior Makapelu, Salio Siaunu’ua (Bishop Viard) and Constable Paul Agnew will be turning out in the sevens tournament next week.