Rolleston Warriors Pumped For Inaugural Club Day
Rolleston Warriors’ introduction into the Canterbury Rugby League family has been an unequivocal success, and the fledging club celebrates another key milestone on Saturday courtesy of its inaugural club day.
The event takes on extra special significance for the Warriors, with Selwyn District mayor Sam Broughton on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil the new goalposts at Rolleston’s Brookside Park at 9.15am.
The first of five juniors games kick off at 9.30am, and a bumper day of footy concludes with the top-of-the-table Division One clash between Burnham Chevaliers and Woolston Rams, which gets underway at 2pm.
There will also be a BBQ fundraiser, bouncy castles and entertainment for the kids throughout the day, a hydration station and sponsors stalls.
“It’s going to be a massive day,” Rolleston Warriors president Nui Ririnui says.
“Getting the new goalposts, we’ve done that to get our own identity as Rolleston. Throughout the year we haven’t had posts so we thought as a club if we could get posts up, people will actually see that league is in Rolleston – because some people still don’t know.
“Having those up on club day is a big deal for us.”
The Warriors, who are fielding teams from the nursery grade through to 11 years in their first season, have played exclusively at Canterbury Park to date, so the opportunity to play on their home turf and welcome kids from Riccarton, Papanui, Linwood, Northern and Shirley to their town is a significant event.
“We really love hosting, so it’s good having other clubs out here,” Ririnui adds.
While the club day is predominantly about the kids, Ririnui explains that it’s also a platform to give something back to the people and businesses that have supported the Warriors.
“We want to acknowledge our sponsors as well, we’re really proud to have them and they’ll be set up there.
“It’s a chance for local businesses to showcase what they’ve got, and how they’ve helped us.”
The Warriors have a strong association with Burnham Chevaliers, who Ririnui and several other people associated with the Warriors play for. The hosting of the Division One blockbuster is an opportunity to solidify that relationship, but also to give the Warriors juniors something to aspire to.
“Everyone knows (Burnham and Woolston) are the heavy hitters of Division One, so it’s awesome to have them come over here and play,” Ririnui enthuses.
“We’ve got really close ties with Burnham, heaps of them are involved with our club and we’re involved with them as well. We’re just trying to look after the rugby league community.
“They’ve helped us a lot in terms of getting kids, and with the club day as well. We’re really proud to have them with us.
“I’ve said to the Burnham guys that the whole thing with our club day is about our juniors, so they’re going to be looking up to you guys.
“(We want to) keep it positive, no swearing, no smoking, from both teams.
“We’re also going to have a guard of honour, with the players running in between the kids. We want the kids to think, ‘this is really cool, I want to one day be in these teams’ – that’s the whole reason behind having the Div One game here.”
Rolleston’s maiden year in the CRL setup has been a whirlwind, with the club struggling to keep up with demand – but Ririnui says the overwhelming interest is wonderful.
“Obviously it’s our first season and kids are still learning the game. A lot of them have never played before, so they are getting a bit of a licking but for us it’s not really about winning,” he says.
“(It’s more about) having our presence, showing people that we are here.
“At the start it was more about seeing how it went, but getting our strip and getting amongst CRL was really cool.
“Kids are still flooding in to our teams and even now we’ve had about five who have registered in the last week.
“I think it’s our morals, our goals and our vision that is attracting (the kids and their parents). That’s what has drawn members in, what we’re about – the kids, first and foremost, are the future for our club. A lot of parents like that.”
Ririnui emphasised that the support of the Rolleston area – and the CRL community in general – has aided the club’s early success, as well as enhancing the enjoyment of everyone involved.
“Rolleston is a community place, everyone’s friendly and I think that has just rolled into the club. If you’re a parent on the sidelines you know people are going to coming and talk to you, you’re not going to feel left out.
“We’ve had nothing but positive feedback (from the other clubs), a lot of people have said it’s great to see another club in Canterbury Rugby League.
“I think so too, because we’re trying to grow the game, we’re not trying to steal kids from other clubs or anything like that – it’s more about where we want our club to be in 10 years, how we want to approach it and make it better.”
And while there may only be a couple of months of the season left for the Warriors’ junior teams, Ririnui reveals the club will be working overtime to ensure they can accommodate all of the kids wanting to play rugby league for Rolleston in 2018.
“Next year we have to be prepared for double-ups in our grades. We’re not prepared for that yet, so we need to get prepared early (for 2018).
“We are expecting more teams and more juniors – including some older kids, which is cool – but we’re keen for the kids we’ve already got to move up the grades and we’re focusing on that.”
Although it’s early days for the Warriors, it’s becoming apparent the self-proclaimed ‘Town of the Future’ will play a big role in the future of rugby league in Canterbury.