From Canada to New Zealand – Playing Rugby Abroad in Taranaki Part 4: Club Season Winds Down; Regional Competition on the Horizon
by Noah Bain
Kia ora and thanks for tuning into BCRN! My name is Noah Bain, in case youre new here, and this is my 4th article documenting my experience as a Canadian playing rugby for Spotswood United in New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand. I wish I had some good news in regards to us getting a win, following up on my last post, but sadly, I do not. The Chiefs lost to the Crusaders, and Spotty lost again. It has been a challenging season mixed with growth and rewards, as I continue to keep learning much about myself and about this wonderful game.
In summary, if you’ve been following along, we have yet to secure a victory. However, we have been making steady improvements each week (and narrowing the margin of defeat – progress, boom). Since my last update, we have faced some formidable opponents. Our match against Coastal, a renowned team and the grassroots club of the Barrett brothers, proved to be another hard-fought battle. Unfortunately, the Spotty boys struggled to find their rhythm and ultimately let the game slip away. This past weekend, we faced Inglewood, the team that narrowly defeated us in the Canadian’s inaugural match here. I had the opportunity to play fullback in this game against a highly skilled first-five. I relished the challenge of adapting to a different role, and we fought with determination. However, once again, maintaining discipline proved difficult, and we fell short of the ever so sought after first W. Personally, I believe the Canadian fellas have acclimated to the speed and intensity of premier rugby here well, but there are still areas that require further development, which will take time.
On a logistical side note, one great aspect of playing rugby here in Taranaki is the consistent live streaming and YouTube uploads of every game by the TRFU. This serves as an excellent tool for player selection and development, while also allowing fans and family to watch the games. Fortunately, we have easy access to rewatch every game and analyze our performance, as well as that of the opposing team. I have also been fortunate to receive feedback from coaches and fellow players on areas I can improve. Moreover, the TRFU utilizes the footage to scout players for the Bulls NPC environment. The way they have structured this system here is definitely something I believe BC Rugby could learn from for Premier games.
Moving forward, we have one final game remaining in the season before regional competition commences, as discussed in my previous article, between the Maori, Pasifika, and Trojans. This weekends upcoming match will be against Clifton, who are gunning for a play off spot in the comp. They will be bolstered by the presence of some Super Rugby players in Kini Naholo and Daniel Rona. If youve been watching viral rugby highlight reels or if you watched the Super season this year, youll know that these are both immensely talented players that possess tons of experience which will pose a large threat to the Spotty Dogs. Personally, I am eagerly anticipating the opportunity of playing against them and seeing how I measure up as they are backs and we play similar positions. It will be a great gauge of my skills and abilities, and offers a chance to learn from them and maybe even get their autographs along the way.
I really am looking forward to getting up for this one and expressing myself. I know the boys share the same sentiment. This has been an amazing group to be a part of and we have become quite close knit over the past few months, supporting each other through the ups and downs of the season. There is a deep sense of respect and trust for each other, and we consistently play weekend in and out with unwavering passion and pride for our club. We want to finish the season on a high note and give our best effort for ourselves, our coaches, our supporters and our sponsors. And also for our dignity. (It is worth mentioning our final court session of the year will also be after this match, Ive heard costumes are involved through the grape vine – stay tuned on what I just mentioned about dignity)
Overall, to this point, playing rugby in Taranaki has been truly transformative and extraordinary. This season has provided me with invaluable lessons and insights into the rugby, rich culture, and unique lifestyle of New Zealand. In particular, delving into the the indigenous Maori culture has been quite enlightening, revealing its deep rooted history. I recently learned about the town of Parihaka here in Taranaki, which currently stands as one of New Zealands most visible episodes of peaceful protest in history. I strongly encourage you to explore this topic and expand your knowledge on it. Comparing the indigenous cultures and ways of life between Canada and New Zealand, or Aotearoa, has been interesting. The Indigenous peoples of Canada and New Zealand share similar experiences as subjects of British colonialism. Yet, there are profound differences both in the situation for Indigenous peoples in both countries and in the opportunities for resistance theyve been able to pursue.
I have had the pleasure to meet some really amazing individuals here who have helped make me feel like a part of the community and make me feel at home. Rugby really is awesome that way in how inclusive it is, no matter where you go. Ive definitely made some friends that I know are here to stay for the long haul. Additionally, I have also had loads of fun experiences off of the field in going to Back Beach, going to town, hiking around beautiful Mt Taranaki, going to town, playing golf, going to town, grabbing a pie with some mates, and you guessed it, enjoying the vibrant atmosphere of town.
I am thrilled for the next chapter of rugby here in the ‘Naki, and I have a clear understanding of the skill level I need to achieve in order to succeed at the next level. I am eager to continue working hard and seize every opportunity that comes my way.
In closing, I hope you find these blog posts as enjoyable to read as I find writing them. Stay tuned for more updates after our final game here. But for now, peace out!
From Canada to New Zealand: Playing Rugby Abroad in Taranaki Part 1
From Canada to New Zealand: Playing Rugby Abroad in Taranaki Part 2
From Canada to New Zealand: Playing Rugby Abroad in Taranaki Part 3