Te Awamutu College First XV past player Ryan McNeil fends off a present rep. Photo / Julie Gibson
A sporting time capsule took place at Albert Park on Saturday with the second annual Te Awamutu College First XV past versus present match.
After a 26-19 loss in 2022, the past team took a 29-7 win, claiming the Bruce Bain Memorial Shield for the first time in front of a large crowd.
Community sport director and organiser of the college face-off Ollie Ward says that Bain, who passed away earlier this year, was a great figure of the Te Awamutu College and Te Awamutu Sports rugby communities – having played and coached at both.
When Ward attended college, Bain was his coach and always made sure there was a bus for away trips, forking out of his own pocket.
“He was a great role model within the community and rugby mad. I thought it was fitting, the connections that he had throughout the community were massive – he touched a lot of people. That was the idea around it, trying to honour his legacy,” Ward says.
“I’m absolutely stoked with how the day went. With my quick calculation, I think we had about 33 players turn up for the past team. There’s some coming out of the woodwork saying that they’ll definitely play next year.
“To be back out running with players that I played with when I was in the First XV, and a few older and definitely younger ones, it was cool. That’s what it’s all about, coming together. We all share something in common so it was good to combine skills and have a bit of a laugh.”
The current First XV had a long week, having completed a six-game tournament over three days, meaning they only had two days to recover – but they certainly turned up with a vengeance.
Te Awamutu College First XV manager Keri Baillie says that “it was nice to see so many people out supporting our younger generation, and those still young-at-heart”.
“I can’t say much more until giving special thanks to Ollie Ward, who organised such a wonderful event! Thank you,” Baillie says.
“There were many laughs out on the field, and the battle was certainly fierce, especially as there were a couple of ‘brother v brother’ out there. The past players (with their big reserve bench!) surprised our present players a bit with their determination to regain bragging rights.
“There was plenty of jersey swapping, and playing out of usual positions going on, with some fantastic gameplay and hearty tackles – enough to keep the sideline entertained for sure.
“Thank you also to Aaron [Leppard] for refereeing the game, never an easy task especially when trying to balance fair play and the fun nature of a game like this.”
Post-match the teams came together for a BBQ, with The Meat Factory in Kihikihi supplying sausages free of charge and the Te Awamutu College Rugby Club committee also adding $200 towards the food.
Past captain Henare Raukawa was then presented with the shield by the Bain family.
People are already looking towards the 2024 match, with a new committee on the horizon.
“We’re looking to get like-minded people together under one roof. Let’s grow this, let’s make it bigger and better every year,” Ward says.
Ward would like to thank everyone who supported, played, showed interest and helped with the event.
He’d love to get a set of jerseys for the past side, or any other form of sponsorship would also be appreciated.
If you can help with this, give him a call on 027 290 9268.