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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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End of a dynasty?

A familiar name will be missing when the first whistle is blown on the Netball Wairarapa season with the opening round of grading games tomorrow.

Harcourts, the 15-time champions this century, will not take the court, with a lack of player numbers cited as the overriding reason.

Team stalwart Sarah Watson, who first played for the team in 2001, said injuries, unavailabilities, and an ageing player base forced the team’s hand.

“It kind of feels like the end of an era,” Watson said, “it might not be, but there’s been a core group of us who have been there together for such a long time, and people get older, and there are other commitments.”

Since 2000, Harcourts, or Collegiate as they were previously known, had won 15 of the 24 championships played and contested at least 17 finals.

In one of those years that they didn’t make the final [2009], Harcourts easily won the first round but proceeded to play the second part of the season in a Wellington regional league.

Ten of Harcourts’ championship triumphs came in a remarkable run of 11 consecutive final appearances starting in 2010. The last time they lifted the trophy was a 43–37 defeat of Carterton Red in 2020, their last finals appearance.

As well as Watson, player-coach Geraldine ‘Hubba’ Carroll, who joined the Collegiate club in 1997, and Katie Alsop, who made her debut in 2006, were stalwarts for most of the team’s successes.

Watson is uncertain if Harcourts’ withdrawal is permanent or if the club will return to the courts in the future.

Tomorrow’s grading games will see all teams play two games made up of two 12-minute halves. Next Saturday, another round will be played before the competitions get underway the following weekend.

Defending champions Celtic, Carterton, St Matthew’s and Wairarapa College are likely to be four teams in the premier one championship, with another two to join them.

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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