A forgettable weekend in Cambridge
The Northland men’s and women’s rugby sevens teams returned thoroughly forgettable campaigns at the Northern Region qualifiers in Cambridge last Saturday with neither side winning a single game.
With the bad news out of the way, the good news is that the Northland Taniwha men still managed to qualify for the 2018 Tect National Rugby Sevens tournament in Tauranga on December 15 and 16.
Northland finished bottom in 6th place in the men’s pool with losses to Waikato (31-7, and who also eventually finished 2nd overall), Auckland (15-12, 4th), Bay of Plenty (36-14, 3rd), North Harbour (24-12, 5th) and eventual champions, Counties Manukau (29-0, 1st).
A blurb on the Northland Rugby website before the tournament last week noted coaches Denny Windleborn and Bram Egli were taking “a young and exciting” team to Cambridge however Windleborn afterwards wondered if that had counted against the side.
“[We were just] Too inexperienced,” he said of Saturday’s collective performances.
Thankfully, it counted for nought as all six teams in the Northern Region were given the pass through to the nats, rather than the top five as initially feared.
Playing Cambridge for Northland in
were, Aorangi Stokes (captain), Mase Parsons, Jarod Byrnes, Sean Rawiri Windelborn, Darryl Smith, Potolaka Maake, Dane Subritzky, Brady Rush, Keepa Wiki, Nikau Graham and Levi Clark.
With a number of players limping away from Saturday’s tournament injured, Windelborn will confirm his final selection for the nationals today.
Northland is to feature at the championships in a pool with Wellington, Southland and Tasman.
■ Northland also entered a team in the women’s division at the qualifiers and they fared just as badly; also finishing bottom, 6th on the final standings.
The side suffered losses to North Harbour 17-0 (who finished 5th), Waikato 20-5 (2nd), Auckland 43-0 (1st), Counties Manukau 40-0 (4th) and Bay of Plenty 39-0 (3rd).
Unlike the men, only the top five women’s teams from the Northern Regionals earned the right to progress to the nationals (which has a field of five women’s teams compared with 16 in the men’s field) thus Northland did not qualify
Coach Scott Collins said it was still a good effort considering this was the first time Northland had featured in the women’s section for a few years now; and this represented a step in the right direction in terms of the steadily growing profile of the women’s game in the area.
In the team were, Phoenix Littin (Okaihau College), Mia Anderson, Manaia Webb, Leilani Erwin (all Kerikeri High School); Savannah Bodman (Kamo High), Holli O’Sullivan, Te Owai Ashby Nathan, Serai Murray Wihongi, Kalisha Walters Mau (Western Sharks), Timara Leaf (Counties) and Te Mania Te Iringa (Hora Hora).
Collins noted it was a very young team, with only three players over 20, emphasised with Littin, age 17, and Anderson, 16, acting as co captains, and with no players involved in any Black Ferns XV or 7s developmental programmes unlike many of the other sides at the regionals.
Okaihau College student Mia Anderson (shown above at the Johnny Isaacs Maori Rugby tournament in Kawakawa earlier this year) and Phoenix Littin from Kerikeri High School (pictured inset) co-captained a very young Northland women’s team at the Northern Region rugby sevens tournament in Cambridge last weekend.