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Celebrating 25 years of New Zealand parliamentary rugby

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

On Saturday 25 July, the New Zealand Parliamentary Rugby team (NZPRT) celebrated its 25th anniversary with a special match tackling the formidable Centurions XV, played at the Wellington grounds where it all began in 1995.

There was a buzz in the air as hundreds of spectators crowded the side-lines and banks of the Wainuiomata Rugby Club grounds to watch the two star-studded teams face off.

Saturday’s NZPRT line-up included MPs, parliamentary staff, and former All Blacks, with Co-captains the Hon Mark Mitchell MP and the Hon Damien O’Connor MP-who have led the team together for nearly a decade.

On the Centurions side were former All Blacks, Lower Hutt Mayor Campbell Barry, high profile players for New Zealand and the Pacific, and 'The Eliminator' aka Dr Ashley Bloomfield, all managed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Rt Hon Trevor Mallard.

The excitement only grew throughout the match with great shows of sportsmanship on and off the field, and MPs working together across the pitch.

"It was great to see the excitement and crowd roar as [New Zealand's] own COVID-19 hero Dr Ashley Bloomfield crossed the line to score the first try for the Centurions," NZPRT co-captain the Hon Mark Mitchell said.

"The game on the weekend highlighted everything that is great about sport and parliamentary rugby. It brought the community together to see a physical contest that was a very clean match played in a great spirit with several local heroes and legends of the sport on the field supporting the occasion."

"It was a great celebration of 25 years of parliamentary rugby," NZPRT co-captain the Hon Damien O'Connor said.

"To return to where it all started in the strong community of Wainuiomata and celebrate at the local rugby club was classic kiwi culture! It’s a real privilege - as always - to play with some of the All Black greats and meet the passionate locals who support them. It was a really great occasion."

After a fast-paced 80 minutes, the Centurions took home the win with a final score of 19-10.

Over the past 25 years, the NZPRT has played hundreds of fixtures around the country, fundraising for local charities and causes in doing so. Saturday's match raised money for the Wainuiomata Junior Rugby Club.

Mr O'Connor said: "The opportunity to fundraise for a good cause is always something we welcome. We have to acknowledge the people who have supported the team over the years through sponsorship, through participation as players to help us parliamentarians look better!"

"[The NZPRT] brings our Parliament together through sport, and many lasting friendships have been formed across the House that have endured after politics," Mr Mitchell said. "Another great strength of the team is it brings our entire parliament together from our security personnel, reception staff, finance, ministerial advisors, DPS, and Police staff."

"Here’s to the next 25 years of Parliamentary Rugby."

As well as playing several charity rugby games each year throughout New Zealand, the NZPRT also participates in the Parliamentary Rugby World Cup, which it won in 1995, 1999, 2007, and 2011.

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