A new tradition has been made between North and South Island ‘‘Toko’’ teams.
The Tokomairiro Senior B team have brought to fruition a plan that has been in the works for over five years.
The team has been liaising with another team which is also named Toko in Taranaki in the North Island and had hoped to play a game against them to create a battle between the two Toko teams. The two clubs were established only five years apart — Toko South in 1900 and Toko North in 1905.
Toko South travelled up to battle Toko North at the back end of the 2019 rugby season, so this year the teams finally got to continue what had been started. With Covid-19 disruptions, Toko South had been awaiting Toko North’s arrival in the South. This year the North team came with a massive group of 37 and the two teams finally got the chance to battle it out on the field in Milton.
Club president Bradley Frost said a massive thanks to them and their supporters, and the seniors will look to return to the North Island next year. The Toko North team are keen to return in 2025 to be apart of the club’s 125th celebrations.
A sideline review from long-standing dedicated member of South Island’s Toko club Alistair Woodhead recounts the first ever established match between the two teams.
‘‘In stunning conditions at Milton, a fierce battle took place to find out who could claim the Toko name as claim of greatest between Toko Seniors and Toko [Taranaki].
‘‘When I first viewed the Taranaki team in their traditional Amber and Black jerseys, I thought we were playing a Taranaki NPC squad, such was their size and skill during warm up.
‘‘Once kick off arrived, both teams roared into it like Ferdinand the Bull vs his Southern Compatriot with neither team holding back. Taranaki opened the scoring with a well worked try through soft defence, then Toko bounced back to even the score. The rest of the first half was an even battle, with both teams looking to gain ascendancy at the breakdown [and a] halftime score of 12-10 to Taranaki,’’ Mr Woodhead said.
‘‘The second half commenced with both teams’ energy levels wilting under typical Milton heat, as it was the first pre-season hit out for both teams. As aresult, more mistakes and turnover crept into the match, with both teams looking for oxygen supplies to be wheeled on.
‘‘More gaps appeared in the second half as tackles slipped off, as Toko had a narrow 24-21 lead with full-time imminent.
‘‘Taranaki launched a desperate last-second attack and were rewarded with a try in the corner to snatch a last second victory of 26-24.’’
The Tokomairiro Rugby Club appreciates all the support it receives to back its club as it makes its way through the 2023 season. Check out each of their teams and come support the blue and yellow players as they fight to win their grades.