Winding back clock to rugby in 1922

Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian
www.sunlive.co.nz

Last week Sideline Sid looked at the current state of play in the BOPRU Baywide rugby competition. In this edition we wind the clock back one hundred years, courtesy of Papers Past, to take some snapshots of Western Bay of Plenty rugby in 1922.

We open our look back in rugby history from a Bay of Plenty Times piece dated 22 April entitled Rugby Football at the Mount.

The tone of the Bay of Plenty Times meeting report was to dismiss the challenge of rugby league in Tauranga, at the time. Amongst the speakers was Mr JA Jordan who said he was a straight out rugby advocate. He mentioned that Tauranga had sprung some of the finest football players in the world.

One hundred years later, Mr Jordan is still remembered in local rugby with the Jordan Cup that he presented in 1913. Today the Jordan Cup is the Western Bay Sub-Union Baywide challenge prize, which changed hands last Saturday, when Te Puna beat Te Puke Sports 20-11.

The Te Puke Times covered the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union annual meeting held in Whakatane. Considerable discussion appears to have taken place on an issue tabled as the 'Springbok Expenses' arising from the previous years Springbok game against Bay of Plenty.

"Mr Hunt raised the question of a debit of £40 against Rotorua (Sub-Union) as the quota towards the Springboks". It would appear that all the Bay of Plenty Sub-Unions were levied to financially assist with the Bay of Plenty match with the Springboks at Arawa Park.

The Bay Times carried an early season rugby report "Locally senior and junior teams are to play from, Tauranga, Te Puna, Rangataua and Mount Maunganui and local enthusiasts are looking forward to a formable fifteen to carry the Tauranga standard in the Kusabs Cup against the picked teams of the other sub-unions".

The local rugby season opening was covered in the Bay of Plenty Times dated 24 April "When the Rovers fifteen, winners of the Te Puke Unions Championship last season, met the Tauranga Football Club team on the High School Reserve. The visitors were the heavier combination and after a good keen game left the field victors by eight points to three"

"There was a fair attendance of the public, but the gate takings were not as large as they should have been, as a number of onlookers remained outside the fence and viewed the game from the roadway".

A NZ Herald April report stated that one delegate said that the Bay of Plenty Union was one of the largest, if not the largest Rugby Union in New Zealand. He estimated that there were 60 senior teams playing under its auspices. It is interesting to note that today there are less than fifty teams playing senior (men's) club football.

Te Puke Times 15 August. The only match played on Saturday was between the United and Railway teams - the majority of the Rover and Rangiuru players failing to put in an appearance. A practice match was played on the local ground on Saturday, the fifteens being composed of members of several clubs and a number of Te Matai players.

Te Puke Times 28 August. The return match between the senior representatives of the Te Puke and Tauranga Rugby Unions were played on Saturday last, and resulted in a decisive win to the former by 27 points to 3. We are unable to give a detailed report of the game, for seats in motor cars of the day of the match were at a premium and those who travelled by train (of who our representative was one) had to leave the ground shortly after the second half commenced.

Bay of Plenty Times 28 July. The Tauranga Rugby Unions senior and junior teams will visit Te Puke tomorrow to play against their chosen fifteens of the Te Puke Unions senior and junior sections. A launch will leave town at 11.30 in the morning, connecting with the train from the Mount at 12.30. The return train will leave Te Puke at five o'clock.

One thing that has never changed over the last century is the huge impact that rugby has in our local community.



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