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Work on the outside facilities of the Whangamatā Rugby Club get underway. Photo: SUPPLIED

Whangamatā Rugby Club gets much needed upgrade

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By GABRIEL BOWEN, Wintec-Te Pūkenga journalism student

Whangamatā Rugby Club has been awarded a grant of $30,000 to assist with renovations, one of just 10 clubs nationwide to receive the award. They are using the funds to upgrade their clubroom facilities to be warmer and more accessible for the club’s family members, old boys, and women’s teams.

Club vice president Kaitlin Russell, who submitted the club’s application to the Bunnings Rugby Assist fund, is thrilled with the news. “It means so much to our club to be selected. Our club has been an integral part of the Whangamatā community since 1963,” she said.

The upgrade is especially timely as the club fielded its first women’s team this year, so a facelift for the changing rooms including separate toilets for the players was high on the list.

Russell said the club had seen an increase in numbers. “As our town has grown, so have registrations.
Over 400 people make up the rugby family at our clubrooms each Saturday. Being able to renovate our clubrooms means we can address all the new challenges you face when your club grows, from changing our bathrooms to be unisex, fixing ceiling leaks, installing more heating, and building accessible ramps so our mums can safely move their prams.”

A working bee was held to get things ready for the club’s 60th celebration last weekend, and ahead of hosting Round 6 of the Heartland Rugby Competition on September 16. The highly anticipated ‘top of the table’ match will pitch the 2022 Heartland champions South Canterbury against current second place holders Thames Valley.

According to New Zealand Rugby, 164 clubs applied for the Bunnings Rugby Assist award this year, with the winners each getting an equal share of $300,000 of Bunnings products, materials, and trade support. The clubs, which range from Moerewa in Northland to Bluff, will be supported by their local Bunnings team to complete their upgrades.

Bunnings Rugby Assist ambassador and rugby legend Ian Jones said: “I’m excited to see 10 more clubs get a refresh to better serve their community and the grassroots game. I can’t wait to lend a hand alongside the Bunnings team and club members in the months ahead”.

This is the third time this award has been handed out, with clubs from around the country benefiting from the initiative. The Rugby Assist award is part of New Zealand Rugby’s and Bunnings Warehouse three-year sponsorship of domestic competitions and support for community rugby across the country.

Bunnings Warehouse is the primary partner and naming rights sponsor of the Bunnings Warehouse National Provincial Championship (NPC), the Farah Palmer Cup (FPC), the Heartland Championship and Super Rugby Under 20s Championship.

The other nine clubs rewarded with funding this year were: Moerewa Rugby Sports Club  (Northland), Massey Rugby Club (North Harbour), Bombay Rugby Football Club (Counties-Manukau), Eskview and Districts Rugby Football Club (Hawke’s Bay), Wairarapa Wahine Toa (Wairarapa-Bush), Waimea Old Boys Rugby Club (Tasman), Timaru Old Boys Rugby (South Canterbury), Taieri Rugby Football Club Inc. (Otago) and Bluff Rugby Club (Southland).