Troy Tauwhare a Titan on the West Coast

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A fortnight ago the West Coast hooker brought up 100 first-class appearances by scoring two tries for the Coast against Whanganui in the Heartland Championship. In June his Hokitika-coached rugby club, Kiwi, won their 82nd consecutive match and eighth Taylorville Wallsend Trophy since 2017 with a 35-30 win over Wests.

“It’s cool to bring up milestones like a hundred games. The boys acknowledged that and 50 games for Amena Tukana. Personality I’m more worried about results though. Unfortunately, we didn’t play well against Whanganui,” Tauwhare said.

West Coast was beaten 36-12 but has generally been very competitive this season. Impressive wins against King Country (40-9) and Horowhenua Kapiti (48-28) were offset by narrow defeats to Thames Valley (22-30) and South Canterbury (26-39).

“We started off two from two which was good. In the last month, we’ve had three of the top four teams and that’s been tough,” Tauwhare said.

“We let ourselves down in the Thames Valley game, but South Canterbury was more positive. We had all the momentum and were up 14-10 at halftime. I don’t think the final score was a true reflection of the game. They got an intercept near the end to blow the score out a little.

“This weekend is make or break for our season. We play Mid Canterbury who have the same record as us before the local derby against Buller in Christchurch. In the last round, we host North Otago. There are no easy weeks in the Heartland Championship. If we want to make the Meads Cup, we must lift our game,” Tauwhare stressed.

South Canterbury has won 26 consecutive matches. Destructive No 8 Siu Kakala scored three tries and Clarence Moli a double. Tauwhare rumbled over from a lineout drive as the West Coast threatened a boilover at 32-26.

Tauwhare has been hurting opponents since his first-class debut in 2009. In 2013, 2018, and 2019 he achieved his highest honour when he was selected for the New Zealand Heartland XV. In 2019 he even played at Eden Park; the Heartland XV was beaten 36-19 by Samoa before they headed to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

“When I started hookers were basically front rowers who didn’t do much outside of their core roles. The game was slower, one-dimensional, and a lot more niggly. Today a hooker is like an extra loose forward. Skill level and pace has increased tenfold,” Tauwhare said.

“The best thing about the Heartland championship is the good mates I’ve made around the county. I’ve had some epic battles with Ralph Darling at North Otago. The banter between us would go on all week. James Lash is another really good bugger. To be honest the camaraderie is the reason I keep playing.”

Troy has notched up 95 appearances for the West Coast. His brothers Daniel and Brad (49 games) also played for the West Coast.

“We’re salt of the earth people here. Family matters and there’s a lot of work and sacrifice that goes in to ensure things get done. All credit goes to my wife Lesley for looking after our three kids when I’m away for rugby or plumbing.”

Kiwi is an absolute powerhouse in Hokitika winning the last eight senior club championships. Unfortunately, Covid ended the 11-team combined competition with Buller (Kiwi still has the trophy) in 2019, but Kiwi (founded in 1910) hasn’t dropped the ball in the revised six-team tourney. 

Tauwhare is humble about the phenomenal Kiwi record attributing their success to ‘hard work.’ Perhaps it's better to hear from a rival then.

Adam Gilshnan was featured on One News ‘Good Sorts’ in 2022. He runs the impressive West Coast Rugby Museum that features a bundle of jerseys, blazers, books, photos, caps, and 700-plus West Coast match programs, including a match programme from 2 September 2005, the day Gilshnan met his wife, Amber at a rugby match. The programme sits by their bed.

“I’m a Marist man but Troy is a bloody legend. It’s hard to explain how formidable Kiwi is. They’re a machine. It’s an achievement just to win a little battle within a game against them let alone score a try against them or even lead at halftime. There’s a lot of us waiting for the day they finally get beaten,” Gilshnan said.

*It’s believed the Mahia club, out of the Wairoa sub-union produced a run of 133 consecutive wins during the 1980’s. The Celtic club out of South Canterbury won 10 consecutive titles between 2009 and 2018, and Invercargill’s Star Club managed a yet to be and highly unlikely to be repeated, 16 club final victories on the trot between 1888 and 1903.

Combined Auckland’s Ponsonby has produced more All Blacks and Black Ferns than any club in New Zealand. The Fillies women won eight consecutive championships and 86 games on the trot between 1986 and 1993. The senior men won 10 out of 11 Gallaher Shields between 2002 and 2011, which includes a run of 41 successive wins between 2008 and 2009. Marist St Pats in Wellington won 42 games in a row from 1978 to 1980 while Ian Upston engineered a glorious reign as Petone coach in the capital. He won 172 out of 192 matches, including eight Jubilee Cups in a decade in the 60s and 70s. 


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