Veteran stars and former NZ reps keep rugby values alive in Hawke’s Bay & More News Here

A rugby brotherhood – referred to as ‘The Movement’ – has taken the Hawke’s Bay membership scene by storm and encompasses a host of former high stage stars. Photo / Neil Reid

A band of brothers dubbed ‘The Movement’ has shaken up Hawke’s Bay membership rugby, displaying age isn’t any barrier to success. Neil Reid meets Clive Rugby & Sports Club’s star-studded third-grade crew, who’re about rather more than what occurs on the sphere

By day, Robert Whaitiri is a sharp-looking 60-year-old holding down a high job for the Ministry of Māori Development, Te Puni Kōkiri.

But each Thursday evening on the Clive Rugby & Sports Club’s flood-lit house floor alongside busy SH51, south of Napier – or at different Hawke’s Bay grassroots venues on a Saturday, the formalities of his enterprise persona as a group funder are dropped.

When he dons his taking part in gear, Whaitiri – whose sister is Customs Minister Meka Whaitiri – turns into “The Rocket”, the oldest member of Clive’s third-grade crew.

The crew – which incorporates gamers who’ve represented New Zealand Māori, New Zealand Sevens, New Zealand Divisional XV, Tonga, Samoa, the Blues, the Chiefs, the Hurricanes, East Coast, Hawke’s Bay and Manawatu – final 12 months shocked their much-younger rivals by successful the division title in the Hawke’s Bay Rugby Union’s membership competitors.

And their successful begin to this 12 months’s marketing campaign has seen them put up greater than 50 factors in back-to-back video games.

Robert Whaitiri, aged 60, is one of the key members of the Clive 3rds team both on and of the field. Photo / Neil Reid
Robert Whaitiri, aged 60, is likely one of the key members of the Clive 3rds crew each on and of the sphere. Photo / Neil Reid

“I do this for the camaraderie and for whatever [time] I have got left on this earth to impart and inspire these guys that life doesn’t end at 60,” Whaitiri informed the Herald on Sunday.

“I said last year when I turned 60 that I would be hanging my boots up. But I just enjoy it so much. Playing keeps me healthy, it’s a stress release and I think I have something to offer the team . . . it’s a privilege.”

As nicely as being the oldest participant in the squad – which has a median age of 41 – he’s additionally the aspect’s kaumatua.

Clive 3rds elder statesman Robert Whaitiri and coach Mano Flutey sideline watching over their team. Photo / Neil Reid
Clive 3rds elder statesman Robert Whaitiri and coach Mano Flutey sideline watching over their crew. Photo / Neil Reid

The Movement’s co-founder, and now coach, Mano Flutey, describes his oldest participant as “an absolutely awesome member of our squad”.

“He is a huge gift to us and sets the pathway for us and our younger fellas,” Flutey says. “He also does a karakia for most of the activities and events we do.”

Whaitiri, humbly, charges himself as a “last resort” for choice. But final 12 months he nonetheless lined up for eight matches in the aggressive membership competitors.

Coach Mano Flutey, centre, talks tactics with the Clive 3rds rugby team during a night time training session. Photo /Neil Reid
Coach Mano Flutey, centre, talks ways with the Clive 3rds rugby crew throughout an evening time coaching session. Photo /Neil Reid

“It took me a few days to be able to walk around and get the body back in synch,” he laughs.

“I have a grease up and oil change with my doctor every three months, I check my cholesterol level, I go to the gym twice a week. My passion [to keep fit] is so I can see my grandkids. I have eight grandkids and I like being around for them.”

He jokes that if he retains taking part in for an extra 5 seasons, he would possibly have the ability to play alongside one in all his grandsons.

A crew of champions

Whaitiri’s identify is well-known in Hawke’s Bay rugby circles. At the Clive Rugby & Sports Club – which he joined in 1985 after leaving his boarding college Te Aute College – he’s a bona fide legend.

And loads of The Movement’s members are family rugby names round New Zealand – and past. The rugby CV of prop Orcades Crawford, 55, consists of taking part in for New Zealand Māori, the New Zealand Colts, the New Zealand Divisional XV, the Blues, Hurricanes, East Coast, Hawke’s Bay, Manawatu and Central Vikings.

Former New Zealand Maori, Super Rugby and NPC star prop Orcades Crawford is one of the Clive 3rds oldest players, at age 55. Photo / Neil Reid
Former New Zealand Maori, Super Rugby and NPC star prop Orcades Crawford is likely one of the Clive 3rds oldest gamers, at age 55. Photo / Neil Reid

Flutey, 48, beforehand starred for the New Zealand Secondary Schools, New Zealand Divisional XV, East Coast and Hawke’s Bay.

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In 2000, he gained the Third Division participant of the 12 months award after inspiring East Coast to the NPC title. One of his provincial teammates from that 12 months, Simon Christie, is a key member of the membership aspect.

The Clive Thirds additionally embody 40-year-old former New Zealand Sevens star Tafai Ioasa, who gained a gold medal on the 2006 Commonwealth Games, 37-year-old former Hurricanes, Junior All Black and Hawke’s Bay flanker Karl Lowe and 39-year-old ex-Tongan worldwide, Hawke’s Bay and Chiefs star Sona Taumalolo.

Coach and former NPC star Mano Flutey says the Clive 3rds are like a family. Photo / Neil Reid
Coach and former NPC star Mano Flutey says the Clive 3rds are like a household. Photo / Neil Reid

Winning is nice, they are saying, however simply having the chance to nonetheless play the sport they love is their important motivation.

“We play rugby for the fun and enjoyment, just like when we first put our boots on as a 5- or 6-year-old. That fun still runs through our veins,” Flutey says.

“There is a huge culture in this team and it is about fun and enjoyment. Everything is for the love of it.”

Clive 3rds captain Simon Christie is a former star and NPC Third Division winner with East Coast. Photo / Neil Reid
Clive 3rds captain Simon Christie is a former star and NPC Third Division winner with East Coast. Photo / Neil Reid

The robust tradition means all of the members of The Movement- which incorporates truck drivers, builders, digger operators, well being clinicians, enterprise house owners and board members – are equally revered, be they be former high gamers, those that did not go as far in their youthful taking part in days, or new recruits.

“Everyone has a place and a purpose in this team,” Flutey says. “And with the new guys coming here we welcome them so much, their seed is planted here. It is up to us senior guys to water that seed and watch them grow.

“Those new gamers carry pleasure and power and they add worth to the foundations which were created.”

New Clive 3rds recruits for 2022 Billy Newton, left, and Steve Tahu, prepare for their debut match for the team. Photo / Neil Reid
New Clive 3rds recruits for 2022 Billy Newton, left, and Steve Tahu, prepare for their debut match for the team. Photo / Neil Reid

The team was founded in 2020 after brainstorming between Flutey, Christie and Lowe to offer some of Clive’s older players, who Flutey says “most likely had one other 5 or 6 years rugby left in them”, an outlet to keep playing.

The Movement is now about 90-strong. As well as rugby, members also have a cricket team in the summer, take part in golf and tennis championships, have a diving and fishing crew, and host a range of fundraising initiatives.

The Clive 3rds squad gathers for a team talk at the end of a training session under lights. Photo / Neil Reid
The Clive 3rds squad gathers for a team talk at the end of a training session under lights. Photo / Neil Reid

They are seen as an inspiration by members of the wider Clive community.

“Mano was the catalyst,” Whaitiri says. “He had this dream: ‘Hey I do know you guys have a little bit of petrol left in your tank’.

“It is not about reliving the old days. Most importantly, it is about including our families and making sure they are part of this.”

Former East Coast NPC star Simon Christie mentally prepares in the changing sheds. Photo / Neil Reid
Former East Coast NPC star Simon Christie mentally prepares in the altering sheds. Photo / Neil Reid

A Band of Brothers – on and off the sphere

The Movement prides itself on supporting its members in all walks of life. That shone by way of for Flutey earlier this 12 months after they rallied round him and his household when the former star first-five nearly died after struggling a cardiac arrest.

His mates “got right behind” the Flutey household financially and spiritually as he first battled for his life in hospital, then began the restoration course of from coronary heart surgical procedure.

Clive 3rds team gear in the dressing sheds before their season-opener against Maraenui. Photo / Neil Reid
Clive 3rds crew gear in the dressing sheds earlier than their season-opener towards Maraenui. Photo / Neil Reid

“They supported me right from day one,” Flutey says. “It [his heart issue] was something that I never thought would happen to myself, but it did. I was flown to Wellington and had three stents put into my heart . . . it was quite serious.”

Family is on the forefront of the ethos behind the aspect. Players’ wives, companions, mother and father, kids and even grandchildren make up a vocal supporters’ membership every Saturday.

Clive 3rds midfielder and former NZ Sevens and Hawke's Bay star Tafai Ioasa takes a breather during half time in his side's season-opener. Photo / Neil Reid
Clive 3rds midfielder and former NZ Sevens and Hawke’s Bay star Tafai Ioasa takes a breather throughout half time in his aspect’s season-opener. Photo / Neil Reid

An honour guard made up of youngsters, nieces, nephews and grandchildren welcomed them on to Napier’s McLean Park earlier than final 12 months’s third grade last towards Taradale.

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“Before, when we were at our peak, you just focused on yourself as a player,” Whaitiri says. “This time, it is an extension of ‘how do we include the rest of our family to be part of the wider movement?’.”

Robert Whaitiri and Mano Flutey talk to Billy Newton before he runs on for his Clive 3rds debut. Photo / Neil Reid
Robert Whaitiri and Mano Flutey speak to Billy Newton earlier than he runs on for his Clive 3rds debut. Photo / Neil Reid

Adds Flutey: “We are a whānau-based team. We have the support of all our wives and partners, our kids, our mokopuna. There is a family behind every man and we welcome the man here, and their families as well.”

And there was no scarcity of whānau supporting them as they kicked off their 2022 marketing campaign with successive hammerings dished out to Maraenui (52-15) and Napier Old Boys Marist (65-7).

Clive go on the attack against Maraenui. Photo / Neil Reid
Clive go on the assault towards Maraenui. Photo / Neil Reid

The robust household hyperlinks throughout the crew have seen a number of father-and-son taking part in combos over the previous three seasons, one thing Flutey says brings immense satisfaction to the group.

“To play with your father or your son is an absolute highlight of a man’s career.”

How to beat the children

CLIVE’S clubrooms are a shrine to its halcyon days of success in the Hawke’s Bay membership competitors. Walls are lined with images of championship-winning groups, in addition to jerseys gifted by gamers who went on to make the Junior All Blacks, New Zealand Māori, New Zealand Divisional XV and different consultant sides.

Loose forward and captain Simon Christie takes a lineout for the Clive 3rds. Photo / Neil Reid
Loose ahead and captain Simon Christie takes a lineout for the Clive 3rds. Photo / Neil Reid

And the constructing – which Whaitiri says is a “marae” for its proud gamers – was packed final July when The Movement returned with the Big Barrel Ron Parker Memorial Cup after their grand last conquer Taradale.

“You couldn’t move in the clubrooms afterwards,” Whaitiri proudly recollects.

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“Even though I sometimes think I go through a bit of Alzheimer’s or a few senior moments, the memory is vivid in my mind,” he laughs. “The memories come flooding back.”

So how does a crew stacked with gamers who’re both middle-aged, or near it, beat groups half their age?

Two more points coming up ahead of a successful conversion for the Clive 3rds. Photo / Neil Reid
Two extra factors developing forward of a profitable conversion for the Clive 3rds. Photo / Neil Reid

Aside from sheer dedication, it harks again to the previous sporting mantra that class is everlasting.

“We are not as fit as we used to be,” Flutey says. “We are not as fast . . as you get older your legs slow down a little bit. But the hands are still quick and the mind is eager and ready to go.”

Former NPC star Mano Flutey might not be playing any longer, but he is still having a big impact in Hawke's Bay rugby as coach of the Clive 3rds team. Photo / Neil Reid
Former NPC star Mano Flutey won’t be taking part in any longer, however he’s nonetheless having a big effect in Hawke’s Bay rugby as coach of the Clive 3rds crew. Photo / Neil Reid

Though he was a basis member of the taking part in roster, Flutey knew when it was time for him to hold up his taking part in boots and think about teaching.

“The body just wasn’t keeping up. The mind was saying ‘Go’, but the body was saying ‘No’.”

It is not simply conventional taking part in values that The Movement are holding alive.

The sun sets over Farndon Park Domain, Clive Rugby & Sports Club's home ground as the Clive 3rds go through pre-season training. Photo / Neil Reid
The solar units over Farndon Park Domain, Clive Rugby & Sports Club’s house floor because the Clive 3rds undergo pre-season coaching. Photo / Neil Reid

Other parts embody post-match internet hosting of opponents whatever the end result.

“We really try to keep some of the old school values going,” Whaitiri says. “You go into the opposition’s dressing room and drop off a crate of beer after a game, and invite them to an after-match function. And hopefully the younger generations will keep that going.”

Flutey’s rugby profession took him around the globe; sporting nationwide colors and involving a profitable stint in South Africa.

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But he has no hesitation in nominating The Movement as being a “huge highlight” of his footy profession.

The Clive 3rds team are a band of brothers - featuring some household rugby names - both on and off the field. Photo / Neil Reid
The Clive 3rds crew are a band of brothers – that includes some family rugby names – each on and off the sphere. Photo / Neil Reid

“I have been through many different teams . . . but this is special,” he says. “It’s a home club for us, somewhere where we feel welcome. And as I say with these new players coming in, I am here to water their seed and watch them grow.”

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