Short Passes – 27 May



Header: Petone flanker Jarrod Hrstich with ball for Petone against Poneke on Saturday – PHOTO: Andy McArthur. Above: Wellington Axemen lock James Poloniati on his way to scoring a try on Saturday – PHOTO: Hamish Wareham. 

UPDATE: The second round draws are out and are on the WRFU draws & results website HERE 

How close were matters being different on Saturday afternoon? If MSP had denied Ories a bonus point at the Polo Ground, then it would have been the Magpies headed to the Hardham Cup. Similarly if Poneke didn’t keep the margin within seven at the Petone Rec they would have missed out, with OBU benefiting in both cases. And if both those things occurred then the resulting four-way tie would have seen OBU and Ories make it.


There were 585 tries scored and 331 conversions kicked in the Swindale Shield. The average conversion rate is therefore 57%. Norths and Poneke are kicked at below 50%, a massive area of concern ahead of the Jubilee Cup. Paremata-Plimmerton converted 12 of their 13 tries.

In 70 Swindale Shield matches 20 contests were decided by a converted try or less while 33 games were won by 20 points or more.


The rugby rolls on this week, with the St Pat’s Town First XV hosting the Wellington College First XV at Evans Bay Park 1.15pm. Last year St Pat’s Town won this fixture with a last-gasp try (see below). Both sides are coming off well-fought first-round wins in the opening round of the First XV Premiership  

St Pat’s Silverstream are scheduled to visit New Plymouth Boys’ High School on Wednesday for their annual exchange. This is the day of the teachers strike so they might be playing at an empty ‘Gully’ ground.

There are just a few club rugby grades in action this coming weekend owing to Queen’s Birthday Weekend. There is a full round of Premier Jubilee Cup and Premier 2 Hardham Cup and Premier Reserve Ed Chaney Cup/HD Morgan Memorial fixtures, while all other grades have the weekend off.


The Hurricanes are in South Africa over the next fortnight. They play the Sharks and then the Lions. Both matches are on consecutive Sundays at 1:05am.

In regards to Old Boys University missing out on the Jubilee Cup, when was the last time the Jubilee Cup winner one year went down to the Hardham Cup the following season? Update: The answer is 1997, when 1996 Jubilee Cup champions Poneke went down the Hardham Cup the next season. It also befell the Wellington Axemen in the 1930-1931 seasons.


A number of players had club honours recognised on Saturday. Four members of the Swindale-winning HOBM side – Jordan Gillies, Dan Corderoy, Enoka Fonoti, and Matt Poole – were all presented with their blazers for 40 appearances, along with women’s player Danica Tavite. Wellington Axemen hooker Ben Hendry also reached that number and received his blazer, and MSP halfback Ken Kapeli notched up his 50th game in the win over Ories. Dane Coles made his 40th start of Poneke as well which would usually also earn a blazer, but his exploits at higher levels saw him presented with this some years ago.


Dane Coles made a successful return for Poneke in their narrow 17-23 defeat to Petone. The 60-test All Black played the first-half. His lineout throwing wasn’t always spotless, but two telling breaks (scroll down to the bottom here) and a try helped propel Poneke into the lead before the interval. Would the result have been different had Coles played the entire match? Coles’ last appearance prior to Saturday for Poneke was on August 5, 2017 in a 38-29 victory against Paremata-Plimmerton, Coles played No.8 that day and scored a try. In 2012 Coles scored a try at the Petone Rec when Poneke beat Old Boys University 20-17 in the Hardham Cup final. Poneke had in fact won their last five games with Coles in the roster.


Petone have won seven games in a row when Colin Te Pohe as the referee.


A 22-15 win against Ories wasn’t enough to prevent Marist St Pat’s dropping to the Hardham Cup for the first time since 1974. In 1974:

  • Andy Leslie was the All Black Captain.

  • The Commonwealth Games were in Christchurch and ushered in the start of colour TV in New Zealand.

  • ABBA won the Eurovision song contest with Waterloo.

  • U.S. President Richard Nixon announced his retirement following the Watergate scandal.

  • The average house price was $24,300, just over $130,000 in today’s currency.

John Markowitz, who spent a month refereeing in New Zealand, returns to Hong Kong on Monday where he is an international airline pilot. Markowitz ran touch in the Petone v Poneke Swindale Shield match on Saturday. Originally from Ohio, Markowitz was a track sprinter in high school and boasts a personal best of 10.6s in the 100m. However the lure of rugby, played at his college, proved too much to resist and Markowitz after many seasons of playing has become an accomplished official and a regular visitor to New Zealand. Markowitz’s most recent trip was at least his sixth.

Jane Bryce scored 39 points for the MSP Women’s team on Saturday in their 113-0 win over Poneke made up of 5 tries and 7 conversions. Not bad considering she was the reserve hooker and didn’t start the match!


Hutt Old Boys Marist’s Bruce brothers pleased with their team’s first round campaign. Bruce brothers, Steve on the right was
fullback for Hutt Old Boys when they won the Jubilee Cup final in 1991 and played some games for Wellington. PHOTO: Warwick Burke.

Johnsonville went close to snapping their 25-game Swindale Shield drought on their Old Timers’ Day against the Avalon Wolves. Johnsonville were leading in the second half only for Avalon to come back and win 21-17.


It’s great to see players reinvent themselves on the rugby field and still keep playing to a high level. Poneke’s Misipalauni Moananu set the benchmark for this when he moved from the midfield to the loose forwards and occasionally to lock and kept playing for several seasons in Premier and Premier Reserve rugby. Wainuiomata’s Marvin Karawana has made a similar move. The former Newcastle Knight NRL player and Wellington Lion has made the switch to blindside flanker in 2019. On Saturday, he started against Wellington in the forwards but as the game developed Wainuiomata needed penetration in the backs so he was moved to the backs. Wainuiomata won 28-14 and Karawana was his team’s Player of the Day.


Northern United N0. 8 Luca Rees scored his team’s only try on Saturday in their loss to first round champions Hutt Old Boys Marist. Rees finished the first round with 16 tries in 10 games. The leading try and points scorers from the first round were:

No.8s scored several tries in Saturday’s final round of matches. Petone’s Tupou Sopoaga scored two, OBU’s Teariki Ben Nicholas four, and HOBM’s Lise Soloa one and Rees one.


Former Wellington and All Blacks No. 8 Murray Mexted made his feelings known on Radio Sport yesterday in a general rugby chat with former St Pat’s Silverstream student Martin Devlin. Touching on club rugby, Mexted questioned why Super Rugby franchises should be running development teams and why those development teams should be going on tours and taking players out of club rugby. He stated that schoolboy players should not be picked for Super Rugby squads first year out of school with no senior rugby experience and that First XV rugby should be the only school rugby that is played and all other players should stick playing for their clubs whilst at secondary school.

The Te Upoko commentary team prepare for their call on Saturday. Adam Julian admires his microphone. Or is it something else?

On Saturday afternoons the local Saturday Rugby Club show takes over from Devlin’s Radio Show at 3.00pm. Given that the last 5 minutes at least of Devlin’s show prior to the crossover is inane dribble and music, why won’t Radio Sport start their local coverage a few minutes earlier? Do they devalue lower North Island listeners that much?


They drunk four kegs of this new beer from Waitoa on Old Timers’ Day at Wellington on Saturday. Short Passes doesn’t condone excessive drinking, but this good marketing!


The All Blacks Sevens have cemented their spot at next year’s Olympic Games with one tournament to spare despite a fifth-place finish at the London Sevens.

Confirmation of the qualification came on Day One, after victories over Scotland and Ireland, the All Blacks Sevens dropped to England but a superior points difference over the home nation was enough to advance top of the pool and lock in the ticket to Tokyo.

With the Black Ferns Sevens also securing their qualification recently, both teams have booked their spots for the Tokyo Olympics, as they eye the trifecta along with the World Cup, and Commonwealth Games gold medal.

That news was dulled by a disappointing London quarterfinal, which was decided by a final-play penalty try, and saw the All Blacks Sevens bundled out of cup contention. The team finished strong to put away South Africa and Ireland in their closing matches for the fifth-place finish.


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