Harlequins, Kiwis honour Anzacs with rugby challenge

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The two teams during the pre match formalities.
The two teams during the pre match formalities.

The Campbeltown Harlequins rugby club lost the inaugural Anzac Challenge 24-10 on Saturday, Anzac Day, but helped start a new tradition.

The match between Harlequins and a representative side from Taki Toa was played to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Anzac Day.

The Taki Toa tournament is an annual, invitation only, day-long Kiwi cultural festival which includes a netball tournament, food stalls, haka challenge and the event’s main attraction – the Taki Toa rugby  tournament.

While representatives of the Harlequin Rugby Club attended the Anzac Day dawn service, others stayed behind to light the fires for the afternoon’s feast and to make sure breakfast was ready for the workers when they returned to set up the playing field at Campbelltown Showground.

Uncle Robert Ede opened the formal proceedings prior to the match with an acknowledgement of the Tharawal people as the traditional owners of the land on which the Harlequin club rooms stand.

Both teams then entered the field to the sounds of two conch being blown from the heights of the grandstand.

quinsanzac2-238x300The Harlequin captain, Adam Choiced, carried the newly commissioned Anzac Challenge Taonga (trophy, pictured) created by Peter Elers of Moko Works, followed by the Taki Toa team carrying their Challenge Shield.

A traditional welcome ceremony was performed by members of Te Toi o Nga Rangi, followed by a narration from Uncle Ben Tewhatewha acknowledging the day’s significance and the links between Australia and New Zealand in combat as Anzacs.

Both trophies were blessed by Uncle Ben in  preparation for the day’s match and club patron Brian Doyle gave the Centenary of Anzac address before bugler Robert Weaver sounded the Last Post.

The silence was broken by the Ode in English read by club president Col Packer and in Maori by Kingi Williams.

Members of Te Toi o Nga Rangi sang both the New Zealand and Australian national anthems.

The Harlequins stood arm in arm on the halfway line and accepted the challenge of Taki Toa’s haka in staunch fashion.

The match itself was played in front of an enthusiastic crowd and in the spirit that befits such a day.

Taki Toa scored twice early in the match to lead by 14 – 0.

Harlequins came back with a try of their own to go into halftime 14-5 down.

The second half saw the Harlequins score again and Taki Toa go in another two times to run out eventual winners 24-10.

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