Last month, 500 northern youngsters from Tomarata to Hokianga travelled on buses to Whangarei’s Semenoff Stadium to catch the Northland vs. Hawkes Bay game on August 31.
Ritchies buses transported children from their local clubs, including Tomarata, Wellsford, Otamatea and Eastern United, up to Whangarei for the day.
The junior clubs’ day, which saw kids dress up in colours and design their own mascots, was organised by Rugby for Life and Viking Youth Rugby Trust, in partnership with Northland Rugby Union.
Out of the 15 clubs that attended, Otamatea won the prize for best mascot, thanks to Kasey Lee’s Hawks-inspired costume.
As well as being treated to lunch and dinner, children got to hang out with some of the Northland players and were led out onto the field by mascot Tane the Taniwha.
Programme coordinator Sharon Gibson said the day had been organised so that Northland kids and their families who would not otherwise be able to afford the opportunity could come along and enjoy the game.
Sharon says Rugby for Life is a community rugby partnership programme that leverages the power of rugby to help improve the lives of all Northlanders and their communities.
“We want to acknowledge our communities for their efforts in engaging kids in rugby, with a percentage of the general admission ticket revenue going back to the clubs,” she says.