A few days of R&R in the Coromandel has brought a unintended break from digital communication.

The delightful motel unit near the shores of the Firth of Thames had great facilities, except high speed internet connection.

Living in the fifth largest city in New Zealand, we take for granted the availability of fibre to the door high speed internet provides and all the other lifestyle choices in the confines of the Western Bay of Plenty.

The Miranda Holiday Park, some 20 minutes from Thames, is a idyllic location with their own hot springs within the holiday park.

Things that we take for granted, such as the local supermarket, petrol station and shopping centre, aren't just around the corner and require a little planning and a trip to Thames to access.

Thames today has a population of around 6000 residents.

Thames was built upon the discovery of gold in 1867.

Towards the end of the nineteeth century, Thames had a population of 18,000 people and over one hundred hotels.

The town has also produced a rich sporting history over the years with Thames one of the early power houses of rugby in the country.

In the first half of the 20th century the Waikato, Thames Valley and King Country provincial rugby prize of the Peace Cup ranked in stature to only the Ranfurly Shield.

Presented by a Mr English in 1919 to commemorate the end of WW1, Thames was the first name engraved on the newly minted rugby prize, at the end of the 1920 rugby season.

During the 1920's, Thames and Hamilton reigned supreme dominating the other 10 or 12 rugby sub unions that stretched from Taupiri through all the Waikato provincial towns down to Maniapoto and Taumarunui in the King Country.

The Peace Cup format saw just the season end holder engraved on the trophy, with Thames emerging as the season holders in 1920, 1921, 1922, 1925 and 1926.

Further Peace Cup success came in 1936, 1937, 1949, 1956 with the Thames name engraved on the Auckland provincial rugby trophy for the last time in 1966.

Thames became a affiliate of the Auckland Rugby Union before the formation of the Thames Valley Rugby Union in the 1880's - not joining Thames Valley until 1951.

While the Peace Cup continues as a challenge trophy within the Stan Meads Cup regional competition, Thames has gone the way of many of the former Peace Cup sub-union, sliding in extinction.

However, rugby is still alive and well in Thames Valley, with a competitive local competition and representative rugby by way of the Swamp Foxes participation in the Heartland championships.

Talk to any dyed in the wool Thames Valley rugby supporter and they will tell you about one of the biggest upsets in New Zealand rugby, when the Mighty Valley, beat the touring Australian team at Te Aroha in 1962.

Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian