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100th anniversary of Otumoetai Cadets

Tauranga Sports Premier players Mitchell Handcock and Jessie Williams wearing the special edition Cadets jersey and holding the Bert Riggir Memorial Trophy. Photo: Supplied.

The Tauranga Sports rugby club are hosting a weekend of celebrations to acknowledge the 100th Anniversary of Otumoetai Cadets.

Celebrations were postponed from last season due to Covid, but Tauranga Sports club delegate Max Heimann, Tauranga Sports, who has been involved with the club since 1961, is excited to finally commemorate this milestone.

“It’s going to be a great day celebrating, with a good contingent of past players (ex-All blacks) and supporters coming together to acknowledge founding member Bert and how much history we have as a club,” says Max.

Tauranga Sports is a club full of history dating back to the 1920s when H. S. (Bert) Riggir founded the Cadets Old Boys rugby club at the army camp where the Tauranga Domain now stands.

The Cadets were sponsored into the competition by Rangataua rugby club. Cadets Old Boys was then renamed in the 1970’s and became the Otumoetai Cadets, as at the time clubs were given areas for their Junior teams to draw on and Cadets were obviously given the Otumoetai area, as nearly all the Junior players came from there.

In the Late 1980s, Otumoetai Cadets merged with existing club Tauranga Old Boys to form what is now known as Tauranga Sports rugby club.

There is an intrinsic connection between Tauranga Sports and Rangataua which oftentimes in the heat of the fray is forgotten. The Bert Riggir Memorial trophy is contested between the two Premier teams annually on their first meeting of the competition.

Bert Riggir was instrumental in the formation of the Otumoetai Cadets Rugby Club. At that time, new clubs were unable to enter the competition without being nominated or sponsored by an existing club. Bert, having created great friendships with Rangataua grandfathers approached them seeking their support to enter "Cadets" into the competition of the day. They agreed and so "Cadets" was accepted into the competition.

The Cadets Rugby Club acknowledged that relationship when Bert Riggir passed away by introducing the Bert Riggir Memorial Trophy to be played for "mo, ake tonu atu" between the two clubs. Great friendships were forged between players and there remains today the old brotherhood when the likes of Eddie Stokes and Graeme Moore (to name just two) get together.

Then in 1988 came the amalgamation of Cadets with Tauranga Old Boys to form Tauranga Sports, who in their wisdom chose to uphold that bond created all those years previously between the two clubs.

“Bert’s daughter, who is 93, will be present, his granddaughter, Vivienne McGlynn, who has organised for the family to come up, and several other members of the family will join in the celebrations,” says Max.

Tauranga Sports Premier team will be playing in a special green and black jersey, which has been replicated to acknowledge the original cadets uniform.

As well as the centurion celebrations, there will also be two Taonga on the line when the two teams face against each other; the Bert Riggir Memorial Trophy (Premier) and the the Robert-John Haua Taonga (Development). Rangataua will be a part of celebrations, while both clubs have been fierce opponents on the field, Tauranga Sport will acknowledge them for their part in getting the club into the competition back in 1920.

The Robert-John Haua Taonga (Development) was originally played for between Tauranga Sports and Rangataua respective Colts teams. Robert was tragically taken in a car accident while playing for Tauranga Sports Colts. His whanau who whakapapa to Ngati He donated a Taonga in his memory. The Taonga had been sitting idle for many years because Rangataua no longer fielded a Colts team, so the whanau were approached to consider allowing the Development teams to contest the Taonga instead. They agreed, and last year was the first time the Development teams played for him.

Official celebrations at the Tauranga Domain started this morning with a private function in the club rooms, with the Development and Senior Reserve games kicking off at 1.00pm and the Premier game at 2.45pm.

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