The sight of Te Puna and Arataki premier rugby teams standing shoulder to shoulder before kick off in their Anzac Day premier clash at Maramatanga Park, symbolised that the remembrance of our fallen military warriors over the years is alive and well in the new Millennium.

Hundreds upon hundreds of Te Puna and Arataki supporters stood in silence as the last post rang out, over the picturesque Western Bay of Plenty rugby venue.

The day of remembrance at Maramatanga Park was particularly special, with the club that wear their blue and black colours with absolute pride and passion, celebrating one hundred years since formation in the shadows of World War One.

The two rugby encounters on a beautiful autumn afternoon, were the fought in the spirit of those who had given their lives for our country, in battles that were hard but fought with respect for the opposition.

While Te Puna triumphed in both games by solid margins, the Arataki troops continued their resistance to the end.

Well known Te Puna names such as Kuka and Bidois featured in the try scoring stakes, with Jeff Thwaites, son of former Te Puna speedster Don, also touching the ball down.

Te Puna made an immediate impression in their debut season in 1919, when they won the Jordan Cup, which is still contested today as a Western Bay of Plenty Challenge trophy within the Baywide premier competitions.

The emergence of the Te Puna region rugby club coincided with the reformation of the Tauranga Rugby Union in 1919, after going into recess during WW1 in 1915.

Te Puna went on to dominate the Tauranga rugby senior titles during the 1920’s, taking out the Jordan Cup in 1920. 1921, 1922, 1923 and 1925

Sideline Sid is the temporary guardian of a TRU minute book, dated from the 21st March 1915 to 16th August 1924, which gives an interesting peek back at grassroots rugby in our region a century ago.

A TRU committee meeting held on the 29th May 1915, received a letter from the Matakana Island Club, stating that they could not agree to their game scheduled for the 5th June being postponed.

Mr Cruchton moved that owing to the war, the competition be postponed indefinitely, which was seconded and the motion carried.

TRU minutes during 1919 reveal that Te Puna, Tauranga and Matakana contested the senior championship, with the Jordan Cup at stake.

The TRU 1919 minutes say that Te Puna, Tauranga, Matapihi, Welcome Bay, Matakana and Motiti (Island) played in TRU competitions during the season.

The engraving on the Jordan Cup, which was first won by Rangataua in 1913, tells us that Whakamaramara (1914) and Cadets Old Boys (1927) were other teams to play in local rugby competitions a century ago.

Last Thursdays turn-out at Maramatanga Park, reiterated that Anzac Day and Rugby remain very important strands of the Western Bay of Plenty, which has been bringing members of “our” community together for over a century.

Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian