University top overall club for seventh year in row

Otago University  club captain Andy Ellis says the Ainge Trophy is an important piece of history...
Otago University club captain Andy Ellis says the Ainge Trophy is an important piece of history in Dunedin club rugby. Photo: Christine O'Connor
The Otago University club has won the Ainge Trophy for the seventh straight year.

The trophy is awarded to the best club in Dunedin, based on the performance of all  its competitive teams. To be a trophy contender, the club must have at least five teams playing at  competitive level. The winner is chosen on an aggregate of each team’s placings. If a team wins its championship it is awarded one point, meaning the club with the lowest overall score is awarded the trophy. University Club president Ken Hodge said the main reason the club had retained its status as the top club since 2012 was its outstanding players and the recruitment and retainment of good coaches across the grades.

"The game is made so much better by having good coaches," he said.

The majority of the University club were students which had meant it had a high turnover among players as they graduated and moved  on.

Hodge said the club had been more proactive about recruitment in recent years which had encouraged more people to not only look to University as a first choice but be involved with the club in other ways. University women’s team members Kelly Whitten and Lauren Tye serve on the club committee as women’s club captain and club secretary respectively.

"It shows that we have player numbers across a number of senior grades who are participating and competing really well," Whitten said.

University club captain Andy Ellis agreed, and said the club looked after its players to create a good culture on and off the pitch. In terms of the trophy however, he noted a lack of awareness of it. While the trophy was not played for in a specific match, he believed it was quite an important thing due to its long history in Dunedin club rugby.

"It’s almost like the Ranfurly Shield in terms of historical club rugby."

It was hoped University could continue on its winning streak, but Ellis said the club took each year as it came.

The shield was first awarded to Alhambra in 1923.

- Zahra Shahtahmasebi

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