Seventy teams scrap for hon­ours

Whakata¯ ne hosts big num­bers at fam­ily-based event

Bay of Plenty Times - - SPORT - David Beck

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.

Photo / Steph Walker

Ro­torua’s Nere­hana Tarei in ac­tion dur­ing the Whakata¯ ne Touch Tour­na­ment on Satur­day.

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