What a great story this was at the start of another rugby season. The small hamlet of Mangatainoka, home of the Pahiatua Golf Club and the Dudley Arms Hotel (oh, and also a brewery which employs women; gorgeous women!) hosted the pre-season clash between the Blues and the Hurricanes yesterday. TVNZ featured the story last night as does the Herald on Sunday today.
Rugby doesn't get much more grassroots than the formerMangatainoka Domain! But yesterday, it was transformed into a stadium, and over 8000 turned up in dreadful weather. We hadn't realised that the season had rolled around so quickly, and by the time we enquired, the match was a sellout.
Rugby royalty was there. As well as the All Black-laden teams, Sir BJ Lochore and Sir Tree Meads were in attendance in what was a great day from all reports. The attendance of the latter duo was most fitting, given their patronage of the NZRU's Heartland Championship.
We played a match at the Mangatainoka Domain once many, many years ago. Memories of the match itself are hazy, but one thing will never be forgotten - the trays of freshly-filled flagons carried across from the brewery immediately after the end of play - it was the freshest, tastiest ale. So it's fitting that we close with a tribute to Mangatainoka's most famous export, and it's not the "gorgeous women" either!
Grassroots rugby is dead - yeah right!