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On the 18th of November 2023 the pinnacle of rugby league representation in Auckland returned. Tāmaki Makaurau’s elite Women and Men players pulled on the iconic Auckland jersey: the famous blue and white V rode again. The moment signified the beginning of another chapter for rugby league in what is not just the game’s New Zealand heartland, but it's very beating heart.
THE GAMESNOVEMBER 18
Auckland’s men’s and women’s teams faced the mighty Aotearoa NZ Māori on 18th November at Trusts Arena.
The Auckland teams were selected from the Auckland Vulcans, Akarana Falcons, and Counties Manukau Stingrays, while the Aotearoa NZ Māori sides were supremely motivated as they mark the 30th anniversary of Aotearoa NZ Māori Rugby League. You can watch the double header action on our ARL YouTube Channel.
Auckland Women v Aotearoa NZ Māori Wahine HERE. Auckland Men v Aotearoa NZ Māori Tane HERE.
KAI AND KINSHIP – THE LUNCHEON NOVEMBER 17
It’s not all about the action on the field. To mark the return of its flagship team, Auckland Rugby League hosted a luncheon to celebrate the past and look forward to a truly bright future.
The event brought together legends of the game and stalwarts of Auckland’s rugby league whānau to reminisce and throw their weight behind the launching of this exciting new era.
The ARL whanau, and attendees would like to thank our guest speakers Tawera Nikau, Honey Hireme-Smiler and Adam Blair. we look forward to bringing our Rugby League Community together again for future events.
PLAY YOUR PART
Our fundraising auction at the luncheon was a great chance to play a part in supporting Auckland Rugby League’s great causes. All proceeds from the auction went directly to two key ARL programmes:
Rugby League Delivery in Schools: ARL engagement with schools through its Kiwi Tag, Try It Out and Little Legends programmes were delivered across 64 schools supporting over 4000 kids to try out our great sport.
Auckland U16-18 Tour: 2023 saw the return of international tours for Auckland, with an U16 boys and U17 girls side heading to the Gold Coast. This will continue in 2024 and beyond as the first step to becoming an Auckland senior representative. These teams help our players gain the development and exposure they need to take the next steps in their careers.
THE LEGACY OF THE JERSEY
For over 100 years, the Auckland jersey was the visual embodiment of the strength and power of Auckland rugby league. As iconic as the famous jersey is, a garment is just a garment.
It’s the mud, blood, sweat and even a few tears woven into its fabric that make the Auckland rugby league jersey special.
Following in the footsteps of the 1907 All Golds, Auckland played its first game of Northen Union (aka rugby league) in 1908 against Wellington in Wellington, winning 55-20. It was the first match of league played by New Zealanders on their own soil.
The first iteration of the Auckland jersey was white with a solid blue stripe, versions of which held until the famous white V broke out in the 1970s.
By then, Auckland was a powerhouse, capable of dispatching Australia, England and France in the space of 21 days in 1977. A decade later they were just as strong, knocking over Leeds, Warrington and Wigan on a 1987 tour of Britain, before thrashing the full Great Britain test side 30-14 at home in Auckland the following year.
In 1989, a Kelly Shelford penalty gave Auckland a 26-24 victory over the Kangaroos – the remarkable feat achieved despite the likes of Kevin Iro, Duane Mann and Mark Horo being unavailable as they were in camp with the Kiwis.
The list of names to don the jumper is like a who’s who of Kiwi league – Bell, Tawera Nikau, Sean Hoppe, Gary Freeman, Clayton Friend, the Ropati brothers and Stacey Jones just a handful of the legends to follow in the footsteps of giants.
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