1997 New Zealand rugby league season
The New Zealand rugby league season 1997 was the 90th season of rugby league that had been played in New Zealand. The main feature of the year was the Super League Challenge Cup that was run by the New Zealand Rugby League. Waikato won the Challenge Cup by defeating Canterbury 34-18 and also ended the season holding the Rugby League Cup.
- 1 International competitions
- 2 National competitions
- 3 Australian competitions
- 4 Club competitions
- 5 References
A New Zealand side selected from Australasian based New Zealanders lost to a Queensland side 26-12 at Ericsson Stadium in May as part of the Super League Tri-series. The team also lost to New South Wales and failed to make the final. The side was coached by Graeme Norton and he served as a selector alongside Frank Endacott and Gary Kemble. The squad for the two matches was Anthony Swann, Sean Hoppe, Tea Ropati, Ruben Wiki, Richie Barnett, Gene Ngamu, Stacey Jones, Quentin Pongia, Syd Eru, Joe Vagana, Tony Iro, captain Stephen Kearney, Tawera Nikau, John Timu, Brady Malam, Tyran Smith and Marc Ellis.
After losing to Australia in the inaugural ANZAC Test in 34-22 Sydney on 25 April, the New Zealand Kiwis hosted Australia in September at North Harbour Stadium. They were able to defeated them 30-12, the first time they had beaten Australia since 1991. Frank Endacott coached the Kiwis. The squad for the ANZAC Test was Richie Barnett, Sean Hoppe, Ruben Wiki, John Timu, Daryl Halligan, Gene Ngamu, Stacey Jones, Grant Young, Syd Eru, Quentin Pongia, Tony Iro, captain Stephen Kearney, Tawera Nikau. Bench: Tea Ropati, Tyran Smith, Robbie Paul and Joe Vagana. For the second Test match Matthew Ridge returned as captain and Richard Blackmore, Kevin Iro, John Lomax and Logan Swann all played. 17,456 fans turned out to North Harbour Stadium for the match.
In the Oceania Cup, the New Zealand XIII and the New Zealand Māori met in the final at Carlaw Park, with New Zealand XIII winning 20 – 15. New Zealand Māori were coached by Cameron Bell and included Dean Clark, Tukere Barlow, Frank Watene, Darryl Beazley and Solomon Kiri. New Zealand XIII were coached by Gary Kemble and included Glenn Coughlan, Blair Harding, Mike Dorreen, Iva Ropati, Shane Endacott, captain Aaron Whittaker, Mark Faumuina, Denvour Johnston, Hitro Okesene, Jerry Seuseu, Bryan Henare, Meti Noovao, Brad Williams, Joe Galuvao, Fa'ausu Afoa, Ben Fahey, Jason Kerapa, Keneti Asiata and Paul Staladi. Richard Stewart replaced Shane Endacott when he withdrew due to injury. Before the series began the New Zealand Māori bet the New Zealand XIII 21-19 at Ericsson Stadium.
Graham Norton again was the selector-coach for the New Zealand World Nines team. The squad was Stacey Jones, Marc Ellis, captain Stephen Kearney, Joe Vagana, Shane Endacott, Richie Barnett, Ruben Wiki, Quentin Pongia, Robbie Paul, Tony Tatupu, Tony Iro, Tyran Smith, John Timu and Jason Williams. Henry Paul, Matthew Ridge, Sean Hoppe, Grant Young and Gene Ngamu all withdrew due to injuries. New Zealand made the final and then defeated Western Samoa 16-0 to win the tournament.
The Junior Kiwis were coached by Lex Clarke and included Brian Leauma, Frank Puletua, David Solomona, Tony Puletua, Kyle Leuluai, captain Monty Betham, Odell Manuel, Ali Lauitiiti, Peter Lewis, Fred Petersen, Joe Galuvao and Lesley Vainikolo. The team won the first match 17-16 before losing 14-18 in the second to draw the series.
A New Zealand Academy side, which included Leslie Vainikolo, Wairangi Koopu, Mark Leafa, Filimone Lolohea and Ali Lauitiiti, lost to Australia under-17's 42-26 in the curtain raiser to the Super League Tri-series final.
The Kiwi Ferns defeated Australia 2-0 in an unofficial Test series. The first match was won 34-26 in Wellington while the second was hosted at Carlaw Park in Auckland. The Kiwi Ferns won 40-16. The Australian Women's side won tour matches against Gisborne East Coast and Hawkes Bay.
Rugby League Cup
Canterbury won the Rugby League Cup from Auckland 32-26 in June and then defended it against West Coast (twice), Tasman, Southland and Taranaki before losing it to Waikato 34-18 in the Challenge Cup final.
Super League Challenge Cup
The Competition started in August and finished on the 12 October with a grand final. Sixteen teams were grouped into four regions. Each regional pool consisted of a round robin followed by a regional three-match play off series to determine quarter final rankings, the competition then moved into a knock out phases including two teams from each region.
The Northern Zone included two Auckland sides; the Auckland Heroes, who were coached by Brian McClennan and included captain Duane Mann, Tama Hohaia, Phillip Leuluai, Dean Clark, Ben Lythe, Anthony Seuseu, Don Stewart, Hare Te Rangi, Willie Wolfgramme, Paki Tuimavave, Charlie Kennedy, Darryl Beazley, Boycie Nelson and Lesley Vainikolo, and the Auckland Raiders, who represented Auckland Rugby League's second division and were coached by Dominic Clark. The Raiders included Tyrone Pau. Other teams included the Waikato Cougars, who were coached by Bill Kells and featured Tukere Barlow and Kelly Shelford, and the Northland Wild Boars, who were coached by Phil Marsh and included Jason Mackie.
On the 14 September Waikato defeated the Auckland Heroes at Carlaw Park for the first time since 1943, while Northland eliminated the Raiders from the competition. Northland were subsequently eliminated by the Auckland Heroes.
The Eastern Region featured the Bay of Plenty Stags, Hawkes Bay Unicorns, Coastline and the Gisborne-East Coast Lions. Bay of Plenty included Patrick Kuru and Mark Woods. Coastline included Andrew Leota.
The Central Zone featured the Wellington Dukes, Wellington Pumas, Taranaki Rockets, coached by Howie Tamati and including Artie Shead, and the Manawatu Mustangs. Wellington Rugby League approached the Auckland Warriors about releasing Syd Eru and Stephen Kearney for the competition, but they were unsuccessful. The Wellington Dukes included Denvour Johnston. The Wellington Pumas were a second XIII from the region.
The Dukes won the zone with the Rockets finishing second. Manawatu did not win a game.
The Rockets them eliminated the Pumas in a close zonal play-off match.
The Southern Zone featured the West Coast Chargers, Canterbury Reds, who included Simon Angell, Blair Harding, Mark Nixon and were coached by Gerard Stokes, the Tasman Orcas and the Southland Rams.
Canterbury were undefeated in the round robin while Tasman failed to win a match.
Canterbury defeated West Coast in a close South zone final, 28-21, on the 14 September.
|E2||Hawkes Bay Unicorns||10|
|E1||Bay of Plenty Stags||18|
|S2||West Coast Chargers||34|
|West Coast Chargers||24|
In the semi finals on the 5 October Canterbury defeated the West Coast 24-30. In the other semi final Waikato defeated the Auckland Heroes for the second time to eliminate them from the competition.
National School's Competition
Aranui High School upset St. Paul's College, defeating them 48-6 in the final held at Rugby League Park. Mark Leafa, Wairangi Koopu and Henry Perenara all competed in the competition, for De Le Salle, Rakaumanga and Lynfield College respectively.
The Auckland Warriors competed in the Super League's Telstra Cup Premiership and World Club Championship. They finished 7th in the Super League but made the semi finals of the World Club Championship. The final of the World Club Championship, between Brisbane and Hunter, was held in Auckland's Ericsson Stadium.
The Glenora Bears won the Super 10 Fox Memorial grand final, beating the Mangere East Hawks 34-14. The Glenora side included Duane Mann, Cliff Beverley, Boycie Nelson and Ben Lythe. Mangere East had finished the season as minor premiers while Marist won the Roope Rooster pre-season trophy and Otara won the Stormont Shield. Tukere Barlow from Mangere East won the seasons best and fairest award. Mangere East also included George Tuakura and Anthony Seuseu.
This was the first year of the Super 10 competition. The ten teams involved were: Glenora, Mangere East, Northcote, Marist/Roskill, Otahuhu, Manurewa, Manukau, Te Atatu, the Central Sharks and Ellerslie. Mt Albert, Mt Wellington, Hibiscus Coast and Richmond applied to join the competition but were unsuccessful. The Central Sharks consisted of Richmond, Ponsonby, Mt Albert and City-Pt Chev.
Willie Wolfgramm played for Marist while Don Stewart and Paul Rauhihi played for the Northcote Tigers. Otahuhu included Dean Clark and Hare Te Rangi. In the regional cup, James Leuluai coached Mt Wellington, Brian McClennan coached the Hibiscus Coast Raiders and Fred Ah Kuoi coached the Richmond Bulldogs.
Hornby, coached by former Kiwi Wayne Wallace, and Papanui met in the Canterbury Rugby League grand final. Hornby defended the Pat Smith Challenge Trophy 20-12. Mark Nixon played for Hornby but missed the final due to injury however Simon Angell did appear in the final. Blair Harding played for Papanui while Phil Prescott coached Halswell.
West Coast's Cobden-Kohinoor Kea's won the Thacker Shield match against Hornby, defeating them 30-10.
Putaruru United won the Rotorua-Midlands competition for a second year in a row, defeating Pikiao 18-10. The Turanga Panthers defeated the Paikea Whalers 44-32 to win the Gisborne-East Coast Rugby League grand final. Ranginui won the Coastline grand final 30-22 over Te Paamu. However, Te Paamu won a Rotorua/Coastline combined Super 12 competition, defeating Taupo 42-12 in the final.
The Western Suburbs Tigers defeated the Waitara Bears 30-28 in the Taranaki Rugby League grand final. Otaki defeated Castlecliff 34-18 in the Manawatu Rugby League grand final. In the Hawke's Bay, Taradale won their fourth consecutive title. They defeated the Napier Bulldogs 29-28.
In the South Island, the Whakatu Firebirds defeated the Motueka Tigers 28-4 in the Tasman Rugby League grand final and Cobden-Kohinoor won the West Coast Rugby League competition, defeating Waro-Rakau 20-6. South Pacific won the Otago Rugby League club competition, beating the Wakatipu Cougars 32-24. He Tauaa defeated Bluff 40-16 in the Southland Rugby League grand final.
- Super League Tri-Series 1997 Series rugbyleagueproject.org
- New Zealand vs Australia SL 1997 rugbyleagueproject.org
- International Competitions 1997 The Vault
- John Coffey, Bernie Wood (2008). 100 years: Māori rugby league, 1908-2008. Huia Publishers. p. 301. ISBN 9781869693312.
- New Zealand Rugby League Annual '97, New Zealand Rugby Football League, 1997. p.124
- New Zealand Rugby League Annual '97, New Zealand Rugby Football League, 1997. p.39
- Long wait for next Kiwi tour of Britain Sunday Star-Times, 13 April 1997
- Canty players rewarded The Press, 11 April 1997
- Historic series win within reach of Junior Kiwis The Press, 17 September 1997
- New Zealand Rugby League Annual '97, New Zealand Rugby Football League, 1997. p.43
- New Zealand Rugby League Annual '97, New Zealand Rugby Football League, 1997. p.47
- New Zealand Rugby League Annual '97, New Zealand Rugby Football League, 1997. p.4
- Coffey, John and Bernie Wood Auckland, 100 years of rugby league, 1909-2009, 2009. ISBN 978-1-86969-366-4, p.317.
- Sky's The Limit For Canterbury Bulls In Bartercard Premiership Semi-final Voxy.co.nz, 25 September 2009
- New Zealand Rugby League Annual '97, New Zealand Rugby Football League, 1997. p.140
- Four clinch spots in Maori team Waikato Times, 30 October 1997
- John Coffey Barlow leads Cougars into final The Press', 10 October 1997
- New Zealand Rugby League Annual '98, New Zealand Rugby Football League, 1998. p.131
- John Coffey Cougars justify ranking The Press, 13 October 1997
- John Coffey Coasters give Reds a shock The Press, 15 September 1997
- John Coffey Build-up aids Rockets The Press, 27 September 1997
- Andrew Sanders Top boys sought for new championship; Wellington wants Kearney and Eru back in the ranks Sunday Star-Times, 20 July 1997
- Cougars to venture on to Canterbury killing field Sunday Star-Times, 12 October 1997
- New Zealand Rugby League Annual '97, New Zealand Rugby Football League, 1997. p.130
- Shock win to W Coast The Press, 29 September 1997
- John Coffey Canty Reds ease into cup final The Press, 6 October
- Cougars deserve parade: sponsor Waikato Times, 10 November 1997
- Switching Mann puts Bears in Fox hunt Sunday Star-Times, 27 July 1997
- Four clubs battling for Super 10 spots Sunday Star-Times, 15 December 1996
- 1991-2000 History Ponsonby Ponies
- New Zealand Rugby League Annual '98, New Zealand Rugby Football League, 1998. p.153
- John Coffey Hornby has edge - Wallace The Press, 26 July 1997
- John Coffey Hornby holds off tough challenge for cup The Press, 28 July 1997
- Waikato clubs to clash in pre-season tournament Waikato Times, 11 March 1998
- New Zealand Rugby League Annual '97, New Zealand Rugby Football League, 1997. p.148