Seventy teams scrap for honours
Whakata¯ ne hosts big numbers at family-based event
Every year the annual Whakata¯ne Touch Tournament is an event circled on the calendar by hundreds of top players throughout New Zealand. When registrations for this year’s event opened in September, organisers received 61 entries in the first three hours. At the weekend, 70 teams flocked to Whakata¯ne for the 33rd edition of the tournament.
In the men’s and women’s open divisions, last year’s winners returned to successfully defend their titles. In the men’s, team Wairere from Hamilton beat Auckland’s Playin Up 6-4 in the final. Playin Up were also runner-up in the women’s division, going down 4-3 to fellow Auckland side Bulletz in the final.
In the open mixed championship final, Galaxy, of New Plymouth beat Galaxy, of Wellington, 9-7.
Tauranga’s AZ2 lost 6-5 to Auckland’s Galaxy in the men’s restricted championship and Rotorua team Menace beat Full Circle Brothers, of Whakata¯ ne, 7-1 in the men’s restricted plate final.
Long-time tournament director George Rogers said it was another entertaining weekend.
“It was a hot, dry day on Saturday and we started at 10.30am then continued right through to 6pm. There was a lot of touch played in that time, there were 18 fields in use.”
The atmosphere of the tournament always attracted hundreds of players, in past tournaments they included celebrities such as former All Blacks and NRL legend Benji Marshall.
“It’s family-orientated, I think that’s what draws people. It’s where touch teams throughout New Zealand, who are family-orientated, want to play.
Rogers said the only downside this year was a lack of referees. Each team was asked to provide one, but only 51 were able to.
He said that put a strain on the referees who were there, but they stepped up and performed admirably.
Rotorua’s Nerehana Tarei in action during the Whakata¯ ne Touch Tournament on Saturday.