Sports correspondent & historian
The business end of the local club cricket season signals that club rugby is about to emerge from its summer hiatus.
A quick look at the Bay of Plenty Rugby website, reveals that the start of the 2018 Baywide title races is just two weeks away on Saturday March 24.
The contenders in the Baywide Premier, Division One and Development competitions are in the last stages of new season preparation, with pre-season training completed under the summer sun and pre-season games currently being ticked off.
The beginnings of local club rugby go back nearly 120 years.
The oldest club in the Western Bay of Plenty region is Katikati, where club history records show was established in 1880 and is a founder club in both the Bay of Plenty and Thames Valley.
It is recorded that Katikati played its first inter-club game on July 31 1980, against a Tauranga Rugby Club side.
While there is no mention of where the fixture was played, travel to the game for the visitors would have been a mission on roads that were often little more than horse tracks.
This writer has read a Tauranga Rugby Union minute book from 1915, which paints a picture of a small coastal village and outlying communities on the mainland and surrounding islands.
At a TRU committee meeting held at the start of the season, the Tauranga Club asked for a defined boundary of the club.
The reply was that the Tauranga Borough be defined as their district.
The register of Tauranga senior teams in 1915 were Rangataua-Railways, Star, Matakana Island and Wairoa (The Te Puke region had its own competition).
On June 5 1915, a Mr Crighton moved that due to the war and lack of interest shown by the players that the competition be postponed indefinitely, which was carried.
While not mentioned, Judea were established in 1910.
The next minutes in the TRU minute book are dated June 19 1919 and headed Re-formation of the Tauranga Rugby Union.
The teams listed as fielding senior sides were Te Puna, Tauranga and Matakana. An interesting aside is that it was agreed that the Jordan Cup, which is still competed for today, be displayed in Mr Robertson’s window with his kind permission.
The TRU Secretary was instructed to write to the Mount people regarding the formation of a club at Mount Maunganui.
The TRU annual general meeting held April 24 1920, heard that the balance sheet showed a credit balance of four pounds and five shillings.
Club colours registered at the meeting were Te Puna - Two Blues, Matapihi - Black and Gold and Motiti - Black and White.
It was adopted at a later committee meeting that year, that the TRU adopt the new (rugby) rules of the Auckland Rugby Union.
Discussion took place at May committee meeting about withdrawing from the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union and joining the Auckland Rugby Union.
An interesting statement from a 1920 Committee minute book, was that the Motiti club were unable to play in Tauranga because of bad weather stopping them from coming in and they asked for the match to be transferred to a later date.
During the 1920's, there was a Welcome Bay club involved in TRU competition.
The 1947 list of teams were Old Boys, Rangataua, Te Puna, Matapihi, Mount Maunganui, Judea and Cadets.
In 2018, the Western Bay of Plenty senior clubs are Tauranga Sports, Te Puke, Rangataua, Mount Maunganui, Te Puna, Rangiuru, Greerton Marist, Arataki, Judea, Papamoa, Eastern Districts, Matakana Island and Katikati, with Welcome Bay registered as a junior club.