We’re heading in to the final five games of our 2015 season. There’s just one more away match against the Rebels in Melbourne this weekend before we return home to play four games at Eden Park.
Our players have been in the generous spirit, supporting their teammate Ofa Tu’ungafasi to raise $3783 for Starship Foundation! Take a look above to see the video they made to support Ofa’s shave for Starship.
The drama, the thrill, the First XV
Mount Albert Grammar School and Sacred Heart College stepped on to the field at Eden Park and marked each school’s beginning of the First XV 1A competition, the top high school rugby competition in Auckland.
It was round two of the KFC Curtain Raisers that kicked-off on Saturday afternoon before the Blues win over the Force at Eden Park. Both sides played expansive games, passing out wide and showing some spectacular dodging and diving for the line.
But Sacred Heart proved too strong for MAGS, emerging victorious 39-25. Sacred Heart coach Gus Leger was pleased with his team’s performance, especially considering the location of their season opener.
“A lot of hard work went in to the build up to this game and the guys did really well to go out and follow the task that we set,” he said. “The team was a little bit nervous, we were on a pretty special stage so the team did really well.”
The team’s captain, Joe Simpkins, agreed with his coach and added that the team entered the grounds with a game plan and executed it well. Simpkins was sent to the sin bin during the second half, a mistake that he described as “silly” but quickly rectified with a try.
“I should have shown more leadership there, but I knew that I had to get something back for the boys after they (MAGS) scored a few points while I was off,” he said.
MAGS, for their part, fought hard against their opposition. Coach Geoff Moon gave all credit to his team’s opposition.
“Sacred Heart deserved to beat us, they dominated large periods of the game and we struggled to get our game going,” Moon said on the field post game. “Sacred Heart were more physical than us up front and they had more momentum at the breakdown, so we were unable to play how we intended to play.”
The MAGS team captain, hooker and Keven Mealamu mentee said the team “struggled to stick to the game plan.”
“It was a mean experience playing here at Eden Park,” said Napa’a. “I just want to thank the Blues and all the people who organised this for the opportunity to play.”
How to raise a rugby son
It’s coming up to mother’s day this Sunday, a pretty special day for our boys. Blues rugby mums can be seen on the sidelines, in the supporters’ lounge, cheering up a storm for their sons out on the field. Today we chat to three of the special mums on our team about what it takes to raise a rugby son.
Our accurate first five, Ihaia West, was practically born holding a ball according to his mum Patty West. The Hastings Girls’ High School teacher has been offering advice and grounded reasoning to Ihaia’s sport, including when he had to choose between cricket and rugby.
“I was quietly relieved when he chose rugby because it’s much shorter than cricket.” Perhaps a sentiment more than one mum has felt.
“I also love the unpredictability of the game and the pressure it puts on the first five,” said Pip. “I like watching how our son responds to pressure.”
Another mum who’s thrown herself wholeheartedly in to the rugby world is Kay Tito, Patrick Tuipulotu’s mum, pictured above with her daughter and Patrick’s sister Betty.
“I’m a big fan of the game, probably a fanatic about it,” said Kay. “When Patrick started playing, I really got into it. I read the sports pages before the rest of the news.”
She’s fallen for the rugby culture, the coaches and parents you meet, and the life it has given Patrick. “The environment has taught him so much confidence to trust his abilities and to be whatever he wants to be.”
When Patrick was a teenager, he received a medal with the Auckland Under-16 team and was able to walk on to the field at Eden Park at half-time during a Blues match. “Even with Patrick making the All Blacks, it was that moment I still remember so clearly sitting up in the stands and thinking how proud of him I am.”
Shelley Edwards, Joe Edwards’ mum, did not grow up following the sport but now describes herself as “a convert to rugby.”
“I love the battle, the contest and the chance of winning,” she said. “It’s a generational sport, handed down by his grandparents to his father, and now Joe is pursuing it himself.”
And Joe has been pursuing rugby since he was eight, spending one year in league but coming away from that year with the firm commitment to rugby. “You’ll never take rugby away from me,” Joe said to his mum. This commitment to the sport has become a narrative throughout the team and helps explain why we just love rugby.
The Coastguard MayDay Appeal officially launched last Friday. It’s a month long appealto help raise money and awareness for the incredible work the Coastguard volunteers do out on the water. Here at the Blues, we’re excited to join Coastguard Northern Region and help raise funds for more than 2300 volunteers who have served 300,000 hours throughout the past year.
Coastguard volunteers bring over 7330 people home safely each year. Steve, Terry and Colin were three of those people. After a boating accident left them lost at sea in the Firth of Thames for nine hours in January this year, the three men were left submerged in the churning sea, clinging to their slippery, upturned aluminum hull in complete shock and disbelief. They were flipped out so quickly they didn’t even realise what had happened and found themselves struggling for their lives in churning seas surrounded by scattered debris from their boat.
“We’d been lost at sea for about eight hours, we were in total darkness, our bodies were freezing and numb. We saw vehicle headlights in the distance across the water, it was a car travelling on the coast road. We wondered if those people in that car had any idea of the peril we were in all sorts of things were going through our minds. For the first two hours we tried to keep each other’s spirits up. Then the next few hours fell silent as we were engulfed in our own thoughts, terrified of what our fate might be,” said Terry.
“We can’t find the words to describe the gratitude and thanks we feel for our rescuers and our wives who raised the alarm. We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for them. No one ever expects it to happen to them. We are lucky to be alive and we have been eternally thankful every single day since the accident.” said Terry.
This is just one of the 2,800 rescues that 2,326 Coastguard volunteers carry out each year, and May sees the beginning of Coastguard’s annual MayDay Appeal, calling for donations to help volunteers continue to save lives at sea such as Steve, Terry and Colin’s.
ìCoastguard is a charity and only receives 15 percent of its funds from the government. The remaining 85 percent comes from supportive organisations and individuals who recognise the importance of our work. MayDay is an important component of our fundraising stream and we rely on public donations so we can continue saving lives at sea,î said Patrick Holmes, CEO, Coastguard New Zealand.
Coastguard’s annual MayDay Appeal runs until May 31st. Coastguard units will be out and about collecting donations, or you can donate here.