Varsity win Gallaher Shield to take title

The University Rugby Club had a remarkable turnaround to claim the Gallaher Shield and the Auckland senior premier title against the defending champions, Suburbs, last Saturday 29 July at Eden Park.

Team photo with shield.
The team victorious, with the Gallaher Shield.

After a tough 2016 season, Varsity looked in control and dominant.

Even against a big, physical and aggressive Suburbs team, University controlled field position and scored tries at key moments to come out on top.

A key player for Varsity was openside flanker and University of Auckland alumnus, Antonio Kirikiri. Antonio is signed by the Manawatu Turbos and had a major impact on the game’s tries and saves.

Suburbs had a few highlights, using captain Carl Perry’s wide passes to the outsides, and a fine try by flanker Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz from a quick lineout.

After a bad knock to the head forced the experienced halfback Brenton Helleur to leave the field, things could have unravelled for Varsity, but his replacement was University of Auckland student Henry Saker, who took on the challenge and came out determined to make an impact.

Varsity’s win is that much sweeter as it was Suburbs who knocked them out of the Championship round last year, relegating them to the bottom round.

2017 has seen Varsity make a major turnaround, playing consistently good rugby to win their 18th senior championship since 1888.

The final score was a decisive 39-18 to Varsity.