Rolleston Warriors Primed For Debut
Rolleston has long been synonymous with its roadside sign: ‘The town of the future.’
But the Selwyn district satellite town gets a blast from the past this weekend when the Rolleston Warriors junior teams make their debuts – the first time a rugby league based in Rolleston has competed since the 1990s.
In 2017, the fledgling Warriors will field two nursery teams, along with sides in the 6s, 8s, 9s, 10s and 11s junior divisions.
The club has between 60 and 70 registered players, and Rolleston Warriors’ inaugural president Nui Ririnui can’t wait for their initial outings on Saturday morning.
“It’s been quite a long process, but we finally got there and we’re very excited,” Ririnui said.
“It’s been probably two years in the making. The first year was pretty much just an idea, then I had someone approach me who said they could help start the club.
“Then the idea started to turn into reality … (it was) time to set some goals for what we wanted to do.
“The second year we got a committee formed, and it went from there. It’s come together quite well.”
Although there has been plenty of hard graft required to get the Warriors up and running, the genesis of the idea was comparatively organic, Ririnui revealed.
“I played rugby (union) out here for about three years for Rolleston, but I’m from a league background – I’ve played league since I was young – and I saw a photo on Facebook of the old Rolleston Rugby League Club,” he said.
“I thought to myself, ‘man, it would be pretty cool to start up a rugby league club out here’, so that sparked it for me, seeing that there was rugby league here 20 years ago.”
Ririnui organised a Rolleston team to enter the highly successful Crosbie Nines pre-season tournament, while the Warriors hosted their own six-team Nines tournament in February this year, which was won by Linwood Keas.
Participating in, and hosting, Nines tournaments gave the Warriors more of a foothold, but Ririnui stressed that the club is for the kids – for the time being, at least.
“Our main focus isn’t really seniors, we want to grow the club from the ground up,” he explained.
“A long-term goal is definitely tapping into high schools. Our main focus is our juniors, we’re going to let them pave the way for us for the next five years. We believe that’s going to create the culture for the club.
“It definitely starts with our kids, because they’re going to grow up and eventually be our seniors and that’s what we want to do.
“If we do get a senior team, then that’s great, but we’re not really seeking that at the moment. We’ll focus on the Nines (tournaments for) our senior team, but other than that it’s just our juniors for now.”
Ririnui said that the community response has been overwhelmingly positive, despite a somewhat controversial tact of starting a club from scratch in the town.
“We’ve had massive interest. You get the good with the bad – there’s the old members that aren’t happy with what we’ve done in making a fresh start for Rolleston, but the club’s been gone 20 years and no one was there to help pick it back up.
“Rolleston is growing, and it’s only going to keep growing, so we thought why not start a new club and have a fresh start.
“We’ve had massive positive feedback from the community, it’s been bloody awesome.
Emphasising the family and community vibe, the Warriors are staunch supporters of Smokefree, the ‘Family Violence: It’s Not OK/It Is OK To Ask For Help’ campaigns, and the crusade for positive sideline behaviour.
“We’re big supporters of Smokefree, so (smoking is) banned from our fields and events,” Ririnui said.
“I know a lot of clubs do it, but we’re enforcing it quite hard. And no alcohol in the club as well.
“Sideline behaviour is also a massive thing for us, and we’re trying to become a local champion club with the ‘OK’ campaigns.
“We’re enforcing (those values) from the get-go, so our supporters know what we’re about and that’s what we’re building our club on as well.”
Like any grassroots club, the Rolleston Warriors rely heavily on the backing of local businesses, and they have MK Buckley Ltd Concrete Pumping as their gold sponsor, Trident Homes as their silver sponsor, and Asphalt Contractors Ltd as their bronze sponsor.
“Without them we wouldn’t be able to do what we need to do,” Ririnui said.
“Every club needs some financial (support), and we’re definitely grateful and thankful to have these guys on board.”
ROLLESTON WARRIORS RUGBY LEAGUE CLUB
As a brand new club to the Selwyn district, we here at Rolleston rugby league are excited to get the club up and running for the 2017 season starting April 1st.
We are a family orientated club encouraging all members of the family to get involved for the joy of the sport and the support for our children.
Rolleston Rugby League Club is committed to providing, managing, developing and promoting Rugby league.
Educating our members and community on fair play.