Well, another season is over.
The All Blacks continue to dominant world rugby, the Chiefs are dominating Super Rugby and Canterbury is still the top provincial side.
The Barbarians club has had a tremendous year of progress, extending our support in the secondary schools to the New Zealand Area Schools team.
We had our first fun day in the Bay of Plenty and we elected our first lady members into the club.
We sponsored the national top 4 secondary schools and the national top 4 co-ed schools tournament in Rotorua for the eighth year. A special thank you to the Four Winds Trust for its continued support. Auckland’s Tangaroa College took out the co-ed title with a dominant display over Manurewa.
The grand final was at Hamilton Boys’ High School this year, with that First XV hosting the unbeaten St Kent’s team of Auckland. The school turned out in force to support the team with a crowd of around 5000. Hamilton Boys took the title from St Kent’s with a late dropped goal.
The secondary schools rugby board has decided to move the final back to Rotorua which logistically is much better and does provide a fine weekend of First XV rugby.
To ensure that every schoolboy has a pathway to the top, the Barbarians have extended sponsorship to the NZ Area Schools side this year. A lot of great All Blacks came from the country areas so every player deserves a chance. The schools range from the Catlins in the deep south to Taipa in the North. Mike Smith from Mercury Bay Area School and Bob Telfer have run the team voluntarily for years and really needed support this year.
They picked an NZ Barbarians Area Schools team and played the Harlequins in Hamilton. For the first time in six years the Area Schools had a 12-6 win.
The NZ Barbarians Schools national side had a three-day camp this year. The high performance team at NZRU wanted our support to keep the momentum going and acknowledging the top 54 secondary school players.
They had a training session with the All Blacks and a match against an Auckland Under 18 side which they won 37-19. It was an invaluable experience for the boys with high level specialist coaching and their first steps into professional rugby.
Next year the NZ Barbarians Schools play Australia and Fiji Schools in New Zealand.
The 24th annual fun day was another success, fine weather and great organisation from Ron Williams’ team certainly helped but the arrival of the full Blues team just makes the whole day worthwhile.
Special thank you to Sir John Kirwan for making sure the team arrived.
Ron Williams organised our first fun day in the Bay of Plenty, another big success. NZRU board member and Barbarian Bruce Cameron helped with the local RDO at his local club Paengaroa, the venue for the day.
We are looking at the possibility of moving north to Whangarei for a fun day as well as a repeat in the Bay of Plenty next year.
Auckland won the middleweight tournament this year from runners-up North Harbour.
Dean Allnutt has now organised a sub-committee of past players and Cliff Lyon to run the event, look at future matches and tour opportunities.
It must be noted that from a sponsorship point of view, it is getting harder every year to get full commitments from the trusts. From our applications for funding, we only received half of the money requested. We are very fortunate to have the support from Four Winds Trust, Infinity Trust and North and South Trust but will need to look at alternative lines of funding in years to come.
Among a bumper intake of 28 new members, we have elected three lady members for the first time. The three ladies have several Rugby World Cup titles to their name and served the women’s Black Ferns with distinction over many years. The introduction of women’s rugby into the Rio 2016 Olympics will certainly lift the profile of women’s rugby in the coming years.
Dean Paddy has, as always, run a great bar throughout the season. Moana has been tremendous support along with Mereana. Bryan Craies and Kevin Way, in the background, have done a sterling job too.
The NZRU has agreed in principle to a 2014 northern tour but has restricted the player base to ITM Cup only. The budget for the trip is large and on advice we will struggle to get significant sponsors without high profile players which would guarantee media revenue.
We are working with the Essentially Group and looking at some other options, possibly closer to home in the Asia region.
As I finish my tenure as President, I would like to thank the committee for their support and hard work over the last two years. A special thank you to John Mills. He has been my mentor during my term and a tremendous sounding board and advisor. John Cresswell does an incredible job, particularly with handling the trusts and the admin. role has become a significant position in the running of the club.
Thank you for the opportunity.