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Battle of the ages

Millhillian’s Russell Morgan and his grandson Jack Trass. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

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Wairarapa-based Millhillians Golden Oldies hosted rival rugby team Upper Hutt’s Yellow Bellies in a no reserves, some-holds-barred match on Sunday.

It was truly an all ages event, with players ranging from ankle-biter to antique.

International rugby rules applied for the most part – with a few special additions.

No pushing in the scrum, if you took the ball into a ruck you won it.

Lastly, a coloured-shorts system was in place which denoted the age and ability of the more senior players.

Red shorts were worn by players who were already injured or less likely to walk it off after taking a hit – meaning they could be “claimed,” but not tackled.

Anyone wearing gold shorts would earn the envy of any professional athlete – as they were untouchable.

Millhillian’s Russell Morgan was wearing the coveted item of clothing on Sunday afternoon.

When he got the ball, he was given a wide berth for 10-15 metres before offloading it to another player.

“We’ve never lost a match since 1983.”

The game resulted in a draw – because no scores were kept at these matches.

Mr Morgan, 68, said instead, the focus was “the three Fs – fun, frivolity, and friendship.”

He said it was all about having fun, and there was nothing better than playing with the grandkids.

“It gets you off the couch and gives us a reason to stay fit.

“We’re nowhere near fighting-fit but if you’re not fit you don’t enjoy it, because on the Monday you can’t move.”

Mr Morgan was the second oldest Millhillian player.

“We have a player normally play for us who’s 82, but he hurt his leg down in our game in Christchurch.

“Nobody wants to get smashed and crashed, but accidents do happen – it’s a contact sport you know.”

The special games were 60 minutes long, divided into three “halves”.

“By the last one we’re down to a walk,” Mr Morgan said.

The weather was perfect for an afternoon game at Memorial Park, Masterton.

Referee Dean Goodin explained the special rules one more time before kick-off, and reminded everyone of the spirit of the Golden Oldies games.

“We want to be able to go to work tomorrow.”

The only senior moment came when Mr Morgan handed the ball to a young Wairarapa player, his grandson Jack Trass – the problem being he was playing for the opposition on Sunday.

After the match, Yellow Bellies player Dave Robati said the game was worth making the trip for.

“We were short on numbers, so it was fun for the kids to get to have a run around.”

Mr Robati, 57, had been playing with Upper Hutt’s team for a decade.

Both teams came together in the end to eat, drink, and catch up in the park’s Marist Clubroom.

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