Most teams yet for long-running tournament

The Millers Flat Tournament returns today after Covid-19 caused its cancellation last year.
The Millers Flat Tournament returns today after Covid-19 caused its cancellation last year.
It is believed to be the oldest tournament of its kind in New Zealand, running uninterrupted through both world wars and one pandemic until another intervened.

Covid-19 is a mere blip in the history of the Millers Flat Tournament.

Today, the annual rugby and netball tournament is back, hosted by Millers Flat School.

Principal Hilary Spedding said Covid-19 restrictions on gatherings put paid to last year’s event.

This year, 74 rugby and 40 netball teams from across Otago and Southland will take part in the competition, the biggest numbers ever.

The origins of the tournament are lost in history but Mrs Spedding said it started not long after the Millers Flat Rugby Club was established in 1902 with a playing kit in the same blue and black strip as the Ponsonby Rugby Club in Auckland.

The competition was originally run by the senior club but attracted so many rugby teams, from seniors to bantams, the format was changed and the junior tournament, with netball added to the mix, passed to the Primary Schools Sports Association which still runs it today, she said.

That is just as well, as the senior rugby club went into recess in 1975.

Hosting the tournamt’s teams and supporters was no mean feat for the 28-pupil school but the Millers Flat community was up to the challenge, Mrs Spedding said.

Every parent was called on to help out.

‘‘We’re expecting a couple of thousand [people] but we’ve been doing it so long it all happens very smoothly.

‘‘It’s a well-oiled machine.’’

The tournament runs from 9.30am to 3pm.

Junior rugby and senior netball games will be held on the school grounds in Teviot Rd and senior rugby and junior netball will take place at the Millers Flat Domain.


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