Waka rugby’s resurgence

Long time between drinks: The Wakatipu Wanderers made their first final in about 11 years this month

The future of Wakatipu rugby’s looking bright if recent results are anything to go by.

Following the Wakatipu Rugby Club’s premier team taking out the Central Otago competition for the first time in five years almost a fortnight ago, its feeder team, the Wakatipu Wanderers made the final in the Division 2 Invercargill Life Members Cup this past weekend.

Assistant coach Paul Sadler reckons it’s been 11 years since the Wanderers have fronted up for finals footy, and while the end result didn’t go their way — the Wanderers lost to Invercargill’s Blues 19-8 — it didn’t take the shine off a season in which the team only dropped three games.

‘‘They just happened to be to the same team, every time.

‘‘All of the games were fairly close — we didn’t beat anyone by big scores — it was just a bit of grit and determination and we got there.’’

Player of the day last Saturday was Chilean Camilo Henriques, ‘‘an awesome guy and an awesome footy player’’, while captain Xavier Sadler and hooker Jaxon Collins Mongston were also singled out for stellar performances.

Looking to next season, Sadler says there’ll likely lose a couple of players who are going back to their home countries, and some promising young blood may get pulled into the prems team, which would be the icing on the cake for he and head coach Tom Cunnington.

‘‘[It’s] cool for them and we take that as a win, because we’ve obviously coached them for a few seasons.’’

Meantime, Wakatipu women’s coach Grant Scannell’s gutted Covid hit his team just as they were about to play in the semi-finals of this year’s Southland competition for the first time.

Scannell says the women were to travel to Invercargill to take on Marist last month, but had to default because they couldn’t field a full side.

He, too, is hoping to retain the vast majority of the team for next season.

Scannell pays special tribute to Laura Sadler, who’s been named in the Otago Spirit squad, but is yet to front due to a leg injury.

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