Excitement builds for the start of club rugby

Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian

Sideline Sid can't wait for club rugby to kick off on Saturday, June 27, with the icing on the cake being the move to level one.

This means local rugby fans will be able to cheer on their favourite players from the sideline.

While we will have to be vigilant for well into the future, the return of sport will bring some normality back into our lives.

With a severely shortened rugby season, the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union has opted to replace Baywide rugby with Bay of Plenty regional competition.

The Western Bay of Plenty Premier and Development grades have a seven round shootout before the playoffs, with each round becoming a must-win encounter for the eight contenders.

In a mouthwatering season opener at the Tauranga Domain, current Baywide premier titleholders Te Puna will travel to town to lock horns with eight time premier champions Tauranga Sports, with early season bragging rights on the line.

The Blue and Black brigade from the Western Bay celebrated their centenary last season in style, winning the Baywide Premier and Development crowns and adding the Western Bay Senior Reserve title for good measure.

The other big clash on the opening day of the season will be Te Puke Sports hosting Mount Maunganui at Murray Salt Stadium.

Both sides, who like to play open running rugby, have won the Baywide Premier title in the last decade, with a battle royal likely to take place before a big crowd.

It will be a big day for rugby in Te Puke, with Rangiuru playing at home against Greerton Marist.

The opening day will be rounded out with Rangataua hosting Arataki.

The Te Puke Sports clash with Mount Maunganui will have an extra edge, with the WBOPRFS Challenge trophy of the Jordan Cup on the line.

The oldest trophy in Western Bay of Plenty rugby was re-allocated as a challenge prize for Western Bay premier teams in the Baywide competition in 2001, in order to keep alive the history of the trophy first presented in 1913.

Te Puke Sports bookended the Jordan Cup last season, holding the challenge prize at the start of the season and then repelling six challenges, before losing the prize to Tauranga Sports.

A merry-go-round ride saw the cup pass to Greerton Marist before Mount Maunganui beat Greerton, and then lost the old-time symbol of rugby supremacy to Te Puke.

This season is the first time since 2009 that there has been a standalone Western Bay of Plenty Premier Championship.

It's interesting looking back at the near three decades of Baywide rugby, to see where the regional rugby power bases have sat over the seasons, since the Baywide competition kicked off in 1990.

Waikite won the inaugural Baywide premier title race with Eastern Pirates, who today languish in the Rotorua senior reserve, holding aloft the Baywide trophy in 1991 and 1994.

Whakatane Marist reigned supreme in 1992 and 1995, with Mount Maunganui the only Western Bay winner in the first decade of competition, triumphing in 1993.

Ngongotaha were back-to-back winners in 1997 and 1998, before Tauranga Sports started the Western Bay of Plenty Baywide domination with the first of their eight victories in 1999.

The dawn of the new Millennium saw Waikite and Whakarewarewa earn the Baywide big prize.

Whakatane Marist grabbed their third Baywide crown in 2004, with Whakarewarewa winning again in 2006.

Thirteen successive years of Western Bay Baywide domination has seen Tauranga Sports (8) Mount Maunganui (4) Te Puke Sports (3) Rangataua (1) and Te Puna (1) names engraved on the Baywide rugby trophy – with Bay of Plenty club rugby supremacy now living firmly in the Western Bay of Plenty region.



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