NZ side does star’s mem­ory proud

Te Puke Times - - SPORT - By PETER WHITE

RUGBY SEVENS While the French rugby team were get­ting stuck into pre-test train­ing in Auck­land a group of young New Zealan­ders were head­ing to France on a mission of their own.

Their ob­jec­tive was to win the Howard Hin­ton Sevens in Tours, one of the largest and most pres­ti­gious sevens tour­na­ments played in France.

A New Zealand Se­lect team was put to­gether and coached by Tau­ranga broth­ers Reuben and Matua Parkin­son, and man­aged by Te Akau ki Pa¯pa¯moa school prin­ci­pal Bruce Jep­son, who all share a strong con­nec­tion with the Hin­ton fam­ily.

The Ki­wis sur­prised all in beat­ing a strong na­tional French de­vel­op­ment side 24-14 in the fi­nal.

Howard Hin­ton was raised in Te Puke and played rugby for the United Pi­rates club be­fore play­ing nine sea­sons in Tours. Trag­i­cally he passed away aged just 33 and his club in Tours wanted to play a tour­na­ment in his mem­ory.

So be­gan the Howard Hin­ton Sevens. This month was the 22nd suc­ces­sive year and fea­tured a large con­tin­gent of in­ter­na­tional teams up against some of France’s finest play­ers, as well as women’s, club and so­cial cat­e­gories.

The Parkin­sons as­sem­bled a team at short no­tice in­clud­ing Ran­gataua’s Adam McGar­vey, Roha Dal­ton-Reedy and Con­nor McLeod, Te Aihe Toma and Re­wita Bid­dle from Te Puna and Teddy Stan­away from Mount Maunganui.

New Bay of Plenty re­cruit Trael Joass was also in the team that was filled with Auck­land-based play­ers.

It was Reuben Parkin­son’s sec­ond stint coach­ing a side at the Howard Hin­ton Sevens.

“Three years ago my brother-in-law, Bruce Jep­son, (re­lated to Howard Hin­ton) was ap­proached to get a New Zealand team to come over and I took a team over with Paul Ti­et­jens.

“It is a re­ally strong com­pe­ti­tion you know, top grade, and a lot of the top French club teams come to play. So it says a lot for the strength of New Zealand rugby that we can scrape to­gether a team the week be­fore, have three train­ings in France and beat the French B team con­vinc­ingly in the fi­nal.”

So what was the se­cret to the Ki­wis win­ning the tour­na­ment?

“Teddy, Te Aihe and Trael were awe­some for our team just with that ex­pe­ri­ence, but the big­gest thing above all else with our team was our abil­ity to build cul­ture in the team re­ally quickly,” Parkin­son said.

“I think, tech­ni­cally, we were okay with guys in cru­cial po­si­tions but it was the cul­ture that gal­vanised the boys and they ended up dy­ing for each other. And that is re­ally hard to do in such a short time.”

Nearly all the New Zealand Se­lect team were of Ma¯ori de­scent which, Parkin­son said was a big fac­tor in their suc­cess.

“We re­ally pulled on the old Ma¯ori heart­strings and the boys had their own Ma¯ori songs and they prac­tised the haka a few times. The Ma¯ori in­flu­ence and the Ma¯ori cul­ture was a re­ally strong fac­tor in the team.”

PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The cham­pion New Zealand Se­lect team after win­ning the Howard Hin­ton Sevens in Tours, France.

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