Former All Blacks to take on MPs in Northland rugby clash

It is shaping up to be Northland’s sporting spectacle of the year – a squad stacked with former All Blacks and captained by the legendary Taine Randell taking on the political might of the New Zealand Parliamentary Rugby Team.

The Rumble in Russell, set down for 27 July, will take place a stone’s throw from the place New Zealand politics began almost 185 years ago.

Hosted by the Rugby For Life Charitable Trust and Russell Rugby Club, the free community event aims to raise money, support grassroots rugby, and offer a shot in the arm to a region hit hard by Covid lockdowns, extreme weather and infrastructure failures.

The Rugby For Life invitational team will be coached by “Kamo Kid” Sir Ian Jones and Taniwha centurion David Holwell, and led by former All Black captain Taine Randell.

The team will be made up of players from Northland rugby clubs bolstered by big names such as Rene Ranger, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Rua Tipoki, DJ Forbes and Kevin Senio.

Rene Ranger

At the other end of the field, rugby veteran and Northland legend Ritchie Guy will coach the Parliamentary team, captained by Labour’s Peeni Henare, who hails from nearby Moerewa.

The former defence minister will be joined by Police Minister Mark Mitchell, Climate Change Minister Simon Watts and fellow National MPs Tom Rutherford, Ryan Hamilton and James Meager, along with ACT’s Cameron Luxton.

New Zealand First deputy leader Shane Jones, another Northland boy, is listed as a non-playing reserve.

Jones said he was delighted to bring such a large government contingent to Russell and help raise Northland’s profile.

Labour Party MP Peeni Henare in select committee.

“We want the community to enjoy the day, rub shoulders with rugby heroes and MPs, and be a part of the after-match activities just as they would with any other community rugby game,” he said.

To that end, the historic Duke of Marlborough Hotel will change its name for the evening so it can host the after-match function as the honorary clubrooms for Russell Rugby Club.

The Duke, on the Russell waterfront, was the first hotel in New Zealand to be granted a liquor licence.

Rugby For Life ambassador and former All Black coach Sir Graham Henry said the event was also deserved recognition for the Russell Rugby and Sports Club.

“The volunteers in this community have worked tirelessly to provide not only rugby but all sports to the community for over 80 years. It’s great to recognise their achievements and history,” he said.

Over the past 25 years, the New Zealand Parliamentary Rugby Team had played hundreds of fixtures around the country, raising money for local charities and causes.

The Rumble in Russell would support charities such as the Russell Rugby and Sports Club, and the Rugby For Life Leadership programme.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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