CHAMPIONS: The Barbarians celebrate their win at Waitangi Day played at Cooee Bay's Croc Park on Saturday.
CHAMPIONS: The Barbarians celebrate their win at Waitangi Day played at Cooee Bay's Croc Park on Saturday. PAM MCKAY

Barbarians celebrate maiden title win at Waitangi Day

RUGBY UNION: The Barbarians men have been crowned Waitangi Day champions for the first time since the carnival started in 2013.

An enthusiastic crowd watched them run out 24-10 winners over a determined New Zealand side at the Cap Coast Crocs event, which is designed to celebrate culture and inclusiveness.

In the women's competition, the Croc Ferns took the title with a comprehensive 22-nil win over Croc Aus in the decider.

As well as a feast of entertaining rugby, the day's program also included a traditional welcome to country, a performance from the Kapa Haka group and a hangi.

Barbarians' captain Jacob Rauluni said it was a great effort from his team, which only came together on the day of the carnival.

"Our game plan was to keep the ball and make sure we tackled hard and the boys did that, especially in getting us to the final,” he said.

Barbarians' Nic Eria finds room to move in the men's final against New Zealand.
Barbarians' Nic Eria finds room to move in the men's final against New Zealand. Allan Reinikka ROK020219arugby13

"Right across the board the boys were solid. They did what they had to do which made it a lot easier to play a more expansive game.

"We were pretty relaxed and just went out there to enjoy ourselves.”

Rauluni was excited to be involved in the Barbarians' maiden victory.

"I had no intentions of playing originally, I was just going to be coaching, but we were running short so I ended up putting the boots on,” he said.

"I did enjoy having a run around and I'm glad to be part of the Barbas first win.”

Rauluni said Murphy Boland, George Fuka, Peni Nasalo and Liam Richmond were among the team's best.

The Croc Ferns' Savannah Edwards goes on the attack in the Waitangi Day women's final against Croc Aus.
The Croc Ferns' Savannah Edwards goes on the attack in the Waitangi Day women's final against Croc Aus. Allan Reinikka ROK020219arugby5

Croc Ferns captain Chay Nikora was delighted with her team's victory.

"We just decided to go out there with a whole lot of positivity, feed off each other, work the ball where we could and run for the gaps and that's how we got the win,” she said.

"We really wanted this. We were hungry for it and we just kept pushing and that's how we got there.”

The majority of the Croc Ferns and Croc Aus members play for the Cap Coast Crocettes, who will head to the Coalfield 7s in Moranbah this weekend.

"We've got a game strategy, we know what we want to do and we know how to get there, we've just got to put that into play now,” Nikora said.



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