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All over for another year

Waicol’s Aja Walker and Taylor Riwai-Couch, battle for possession with Celtic’s Sinead Namana in Saturday’s premier one final. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

Now the local club winter season has drawn to a close, all bar some minor catch-up games, it’s time to reflect on some of the successes and disappointments over the season.


Kurtis Paine wins possession for DV Magpies in their final game of the season against Stokes Valley. PHOTO/FILE

The late withdrawal of Wairarapa United from the Central League, less than two weeks out from the start of the competition, was the biggest blow to local sport for many a long year.

Brought on by the sudden resignation of coach Kale Herbert after a preseason loss to Napier City Rovers, United were given only 48 hours to find a replacement. The task proved too onerous and the club pulled the team, ending 13 years in the Central League, and leaving a gaping hole in the Wairarapa sporting landscape.

That left it to three clubs to contest the Capital Football Divisions. Douglas Villa Magpies recovered from staring at relegation in division two to finish a meritorious fifth place. Greytown Fresh Choice were runners-up in division four on 42 points [normally enough to win the league], but were inexplicably denied promotion with a change of criteria by Capital Football. Progressive Engineering Masterton Athletic were a credible fifth in their first year in division four.

Wairarapa United did front in the Wellington women’s leagues, with the young team winning the first round and finishing second in the second round.

The local leagues were again popular with 17 teams over two men’s divisions and four women’s teams taking the field. Carterton Redbacks did the division one-Wairarapa knockout cup double completing an unbeaten season.

Rathkeale finished in the bottom four in the Wellington Secondary School premier championship and finishing 30th out of 32 teams at the national premier tournament.


Dalefield flew the flag in the Wellington premier championships, with both the men and women finishing third. It was the first time that the club had failed to have a team in a premier final in eight years, and although there was disappointment of not adding more titles, the club reaffirmed they’re one of the forces of Wellington hockey.

The season isn’t over for most of the leading women’s players, with Wairarapa playing in the second tier of the national tournament, being played next week in Dunedin.

The colleges again underlined their strength at regional and national level. St Matthew’s were the dominant force in winning the Manawatu Intercity Girl’s Championship, however, Wairarapa College turned the tables at the national Federation Cup tournament, punching above their weight in finishing fourth. The Waicol boys overcame losing the Manawatu final, to win the India Shield [for the bottom 16] at the national premier tournament.

On the local scene, Gladstone did the double, winning the men’s championship and the women’s first division.


The season only wrapped up on Saturday, with Wairarapa College claiming their second consecutive premier one championship to cap an outstanding season, which also resulted in a credible 17th placing at the tough Lower North Island Secondary School Tournament.

Six teams fronted in Wairarapa Premier One, but there was a significant imbalance with the top four teams well ahead of the remaining two, resulting in the semifinalists being decided two weeks out from the playoffs.

Producing a format with six competitive teams that keeps all teams in the title race remains a significant challenge.

Below the top division, the leagues were eagerly contested and the new secondary school divisions proved successful.


I have covered off the Wairarapa-Bush club rugby season, with Carterton taking the major honours. It is worth touching on again though with the impact of the short season of three Town and Country games, and one full round of seven games before the playoffs is apparent in the Heartland campaign.

The lack of hard match fitness that only comes from a tough club competition is evident with the team struggling to match up to their bigger Heartland opponents.


Rejigged formats, seemingly endless deferrals, and defaults, all apparently because of covid-19, were all part and parcel of a disrupted season, the likes of which I haven’t experienced. Hats off to all the administrators who had to work through it all and keep providing worthwhile competitions.

Finally, thanks to the coaches, administrators, managers, captains, and players I have pestered over the winter. Without your efforts we don’t have sport.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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