After a three season hiatus, senior Rugby League has finally returned to Manawatū region in New Zealand last weekend with a new six team club competition launched.
Returning clubs, the Kia Ora Warriors and Linton Cobras kicked off their first senior game in four years with wins, defeating the Whanganui Boxon 64 – 0 and Levin Wanderers 36 – 10 respectively. Competition newcomers, the Takaro Taniwha also collected two premiership points, defeating the Feilding Stags in a tight match 24 – 22.
Despite strong junior numbers, the Manawatū Men’s Open Age competition fell after the 2017 season, with a lack of teams and scheduling conflicts with other local sports making the old competition structure unfeasible. Driven by Manawatū Rugby League official, Lawrence Erihe, an opportunity was found to run a competition by shifting the kick off to July.
Returning to the new competition were the Kia Ora Warriors, Linton Cobras and Whanganui Boxon, whilst three new clubs also signed up for 2021, in the shape of the Takaro Taniwha and Feilding Stags, whilst also local Rugby Union club Feilding Old Boys-Ōroua elected to enter a team.
Round Two of the competition, the Wanderers will face the Boxon in Levin, the Stags will play the Warriors in Fielding and the Cobras will play Taniwha at the Linton Military Camp.
The Manawatū Rugby League club competition will run until late August before the Finals. After the club season, a Representative Tri-Series will be run between the Manawatū, Taranaki and Hawke’s Bay leagues to select the Mid-Central team for the 2021 New Zealand National Tournament.
Takaro Taniwha 24 – 22 Feilding Stags
Linton Cobras 36 – 10 Whanganui Boxon
Kia Ora Warriors 64 – 0 Levin Wanderers
Levin Wanderers v Whanganui Boxon
Feilding Stags v Kia Ora Warriors
Linton Cobras v Takaro Taniwha