Waikato achieved a rare double last year when they won the NPC and the FPC. Nigel Yalden looks at their chances of a repeat.
It’s at the bottom of the emails sent out by Waikato Rugby staff. CHAMP100NS!
The number - 100 - reflects that last year, when they were champions, it was their centenary year.
And the image is in two parts because they are double champions having won the Farah Palmer Cup and the NPC.
So on the left is a group of men, some kneeling, some standing, all thoroughly joyous.
To the right, a group of women, in similar poses and equally ecstatic.
Both teams are proudly clad in red, yellow and black and each has a trophy.
Let's be honest, if you are Waikato Rugby, why wouldn’t ya shout it from the roof tops?!
While COVID-19 caused the postponement of plenty of the union’s off-field centenary celebrations last year, the pandemic’s best efforts could not stop a Waikato provincial double on the field.
A first ever FPC title coupled with a fourth top flight National Provincial title, but the first since the introduction of the Premiership and Championship divisions.
However, the impact of the Omicron variant in Aotearoa did force both genders to scamper outside Hamilton city limits mid-season, to avoid the lockdown-exclusion that prematurely ended the seasons of the three Auckland based unions.
Bay of Plenty welcomed the Mooloo men for the latter portion of their campaign.
Tauranga was a temporary base, with three home games played in Steamers territory – one at the Tauranga Domain and two at the Rotorua International Stadium.
It was different again for the Waikato women.
Their first challenge involved time.
There was a 48-day gap between their last round robin match on August 15 and their semi-final on October 2.
Then having dispatched Wellington, they got to bury the demons of twelve months earlier when a last second try saw Canterbury snatch the Farah Palmer Cup away from their grasp.
Continue this story in our Aug/Sep issue.
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