Norths rugby scores $15,000 grant

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - JAMES PAUL

‘‘When the com­mu­nity be­lieve in you, so too do the coaches and the play­ers.’’

Rugby clubs strug­gle to re­tain col­lege leavers but thanks to a NZ Com­mu­nity Trust grant, the North­ern United RFC hopes to con­tinue build­ing its par­tic­u­lar brand of the game to an­other level.

Help­ing the club tackle one of the sport’s big­gest ob­sta­cles is Norths’ coach­ing devel­op­ment of­fi­cer, Ja­cob El­li­son, a for­mer Hur­ri­canes player and Mana Col­lege old boy.

The younger brother of All Black Ta­mati El­li­son, he made his de­but for Welling­ton in 2007 and for the Canes the fol­low­ing year.

Af­ter four years in the Canes, a stint with the High­landers, and a spell with Ja­pan’s Mu­nakata Sanix Blues, he has been an in­te­gral part of the Norths com­mu­nity since 2015.

The Com­mu­nity Trust’s 69,158th grant of $15,000 was awarded to the club in the 2016/2017 fi­nan­cial year, to put to­wards El­li­son’s role.

Club pres­i­dent Ron Wood said the much-needed money goes a long way to en­sur­ing El­li­son con­tin­ues net­work­ing across all lev­els of sport through­out the Porirua area.

Strength­en­ing the link be­tween col­leges in Porirua and help­ing play­ers with the tran­si­tion from col­lege to club rugby is key to grow­ing the sport and the club’s stand­ing, he said.

‘‘Ja­cob’s role is solely about de­vel­op­ing the game from the ground up. We have 28 ju­nior teams and eight se­nior squads with four col­leges dot­ted around the com­mu­nity.

‘‘That is quite a large area for one per­son to cover and net­work across, but we have al­ready seen an in­flux of play­ers join­ing the club thanks to Ja­cob’s in­flu­ence and a buy-in from the com­mu­nity about what he’s try­ing to achieve.

‘‘When the com­mu­nity be­lieve in you, so too do the coaches and the play­ers.’’

As a for­mer professional rugby player who first cut his teeth at Norths, El­li­son’s advice is ‘‘top notch’’, Wood said.

‘‘You can’t find bet­ter knowl­edge to help grow our rugby in Porirua, be­cause you get bet­ter play­ers. Other clubs envy what Ja­cob can of­fer us, so it’s quite ex­cit­ing.

‘‘In time, we will see bet­ter play­ers come through all the ranks, from ju­niors to se­niors.’’

Af­ter a strong fourth place in the Swin­dale Shield com­pe­ti­tion, North’s pre­miere side hosted their first Ju­bilee Cup Premier match against Old Boys Univer- sity on June 10.

But Old Boys proved a for­mi­da­ble side, go­ing up 19-5 at half­time be­fore clos­ing the game out with a bonus point 36-10 win.

PHOTO: ROSS GIBLIN/FAIR­FAX NZ

For­mer Welling­ton Lions cap­tain, Ja­cob El­li­son, has been a vi­tal cog at Norths since 2015.

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