Whiti te Rā has become the first team in the Wellington Rugby League’s 107-year history to win four consecutive premier championships.
The team beat Wainuiomata Lions 28-20 on August 3 in the premiership final at the Hutt Recreation Ground. It means Whiti has now won seven consecutive titles after topping the Manawatū premiership from 2013-2015 and now Wellington from 2016-2019.
The latest win was sweet victory after Wainuiomata Lions beat Whiti te Rā in round 1 of the 2019 competition.
It was always going to be an intense physical and mental battle, and both teams showcased their skill and toughness, proving they were worthy finalists. The determination of Whiti te Rā was evident from the moment the team emerged from the changing rooms. They were composed and united under one goal: to make history.
It’s likely to be some time before this record is broken, though the chances of Whiti te Rā extending the record would have to regarded as high.
Whiti te Rā utility back Dylan Winiata was named man of the match.
Unfortunately, the game was marred by unruly behaviour on the sidelines. Players of both teams were caught in a hostile environment not helped when Whiti te Rā captain Manaia Osborne was hit with a blatantly high tackle. It caused a fight, with opposition supporters taking to the field and attacking Whiti te Rā players.
A break in play continued with the support of a large police contingent.
Whiti Te Rā Ōtaki Sports Club co-chair Kelly-Anne Ngatai says she was proud of her club’s supporters.
“They maintained their composure during the game and kept the mana of our club at the forefront of their behaviour and actions,” she says. “We don’t want to lose sight of the achievement of our prems; the quality of rugby league our babies and juniors can aspire to, the sportsmanship and camaraderie shown – and making history!”
Kelly-Anne says the achievement was made possible with the support of many local sponsors.
“We appreciate them all.”
Wellington Rugby League general manager Phil Roache said setting a new record was “a remarkable feat”.
“There have been a few in the last 107 years who have had three consecutive wins, including the Porirua Vikings recently who were pipped in the fourth season. But none have done what Whiti te Rā has.
“It’s been great that Whiti te Rā has joined us and done so well. They’ve made history in Wellington rugby league.”
Phil said the success was a reflection of how tight-knit a club could be, and it was a positive role model for what league was all about.
“They do everything together. They’re a whānau-based club and that’s helped them come up with the results.
“And it’s not just the premiers. The juniors and older players are supported and there are other activities there outside of league. With a club like that, when they need something done, there are plenty of volunteers to help out. That makes a big difference for a club.
“They’re something special.”
Additional information from Kelly-Anne Ngatai and Jota Firmin