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Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: Auckland Rugby League

A record turnout of over 1000 players, accompanied by a huge contingent of whānau and spectators, converged on Auckland’s Cornwall Park for the 2021 Kiwi Tag National Club Challenge on Saturday.

The third edition of the tournament saw 78 teams from 14 different Auckland Rugby League clubs, plus first-time participants Muriwhenua from Northland, take part in the day.

Through the morning session of games Howick’s Tony Tuia was kept busy coaching both his son Kayne’s U7 side and his daughter Kelly’s U9 team.

“It was a pretty hectic day, my two teams were on in back-to-back games so there was no rest… but I absolutely love it,” Tuia said.

“It’s all for the kids and it’s an awesome concept.

“It’s a good way to introduce them to the game because Kiwi Tag is a sport for everyone, whether you’re a big person or smaller person.”

The afternoon saw the U11-U15/16 grades take the field, with the Mangere East Hawks and Hibiscus Coast Raiders winning the two competitive grade titles (U13/14 and U15/16) at the end of the day.

Muriwhenua team organiser Manuera Riwai said it was well worth the five-hour drive for his group.

“We really enjoyed the day and loved being part of it,” Riwai said.

“We were just glad to be there. We saw it as a good opportunity to get the kids involved in a new sport without worrying about contact.”

Auckland Rugby League development officer TJ Ashford, who managed the event, said it was wonderful to see so many teams taking part.

“Not only was the action on the field good to watch but the atmosphere in general was excellent, with fun and family the focus,” Ashford said.

“To see the event grow from last year was great and a big thanks goes out to everyone – from the players through to referees and club volunteers – who helped make the day what it was.”