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Being a Horowhenua native, wedged between the larger unions of Wellington and Manawatu, folk in my predicament often take advantage of our situation and support a “Big” team, as well as cheering boisterously for one’s home province.

Article By: Bevan, Sanson


IT should have been tough to see Manawatu triumph over Wellington, but it wasn’t.

[ PHOTOSPORT | Fans chant from the Bucket Zone. ITM Cup rugby - Manawatu Turbos v Wellington Lions at FMG Stadium, Palmerston North ]

Being a Horowhenua native, wedged between the larger unions of Wellington and Manawatu, folk in my predicament often take advantage of our situation and support a “Big” team, as well as cheering boisterously for one’s home province.

This is not an isolated phenomenon.

I know folk in Timaru and Ashburton that follow their South and Mid Canterbury’s, as well as the red and blacks to the north.  The people of North Otago also lend their support to “The Big O”. Lets’ face it – this season Otago need all the help they can get.

Having a Grandfather who played for Wellington and with much of my families roots buried deep in the surrounding soils of our nation’s capital I’ve shared in the pain and joy that comes from following the Lions.

As for Manawatu, well let’s say I’ve never been a fan. The folk up there traditionally look down upon us “Nua” people. Yes they have a more successful rugby history. With their population, University and other economic advantages so they bloody well should.

But it’s the way some in green and white land have lauded it over us that has hurt.

I remember one occasion when part of a Horowhenua ‘B’ team we beat our more fancied Manawatu counterparts in Palmerston North.

At the after match rather than congratulate us on our surprising win, the official from the Manawatu union let lose a tirade on his team. Words like “unacceptable”, “deplorable”, “embarrassing” and “shameful” were directed at our beaten foes.

When this fish-head said, “This should never happen”. That was the last straw.

In a scene that was to be repeated by the All Blacks after an equally sycophantic speech by Louis Luyt after the 1995 World Cup final, myself and the rest of my team walked out and hopped on the bus with all the beer our frustrated arms could carry.

So it’s with incidents etched in my mind that have always led me to never see a Manawatu win as a good thing.

Until last Saturday.

This season Manawatu have had to cope with the loss of players to larger unions - something we in the heartland know a lot about. As a result the wins have not exactly flowing. They’ve been close on a couple of occasions, whilst being soundly thrashed on others.

It’s fair to say a team that needed a win. Manawatu is a team with great team spirit. I was speaking to not so young recruit, Shannon Paku the other day and since coming into the team he has been impressed with their spirit, dedication and the way the union handles its affairs.

They are also a team that has not gone into their shell, simply because they are not performing as well as they would like.

Last Thursday the Manawatu team was at Fielding Intermediate speaking with the kids, answering their questions and generally lending a bit of support to a community that’s been through some tough times lately.

Unlike some teams, who go into their shells blaming all manner of external factors for their lack of wins, Manawatu fronted en masse and did it with a smile on their faces.

It was great to see and taking that sense of togetherness onto the field they were able to beat a more fancied opposition.

With Paku scoring a try in the 36-24 win and coach David Rennie the last man to coach Wellington to a national title it was a victory that had it all.

The Lions only consolation was that against all predictions it was not their city struck by an earthquake.

All the best down there Cantabs. Thinking of ya.
Well done Manawatu - You might be finally learning that whilst there are always bigger fish out there, just sometimes, if you give it your all and things go your way, you can hook one.

Enjoy the win, but please, no more sulking when one of the little fish bites back.

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  • HBC says
    Nice article!! Dave Rennie is a superb coach and deserves much higher a shot in a super 15 environment or beyond! With the personal he has available he blends a fresh and innovative approach to playing the game rather than the old crash in the mid field followed by 1 off runners....
    Aaron Smith is a talented half back and will be one to watch over next few years also!!

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