Rugby match raises funds for Farmstrong

Despite a few battered and bruised bodies, a charity rugby match held in Manawatu for over-40s was totally worth the pain.

The men’s game between Hunterville and Halcombe raised $10,000 for Farmstrong and brought the farming community together for an unforgettable day out.

The game was played at the Halcombe rugby grounds in October in front of a couple of thousand spectators, with Hunterville winning the game 15-8 and lifting a shield made specially for the game.

Manawatu dairy and beef farmer and former professional rugby player Grant Webb captained the Halcombe side.

Grant, 44, played for Hawke’s Bay and Otago and had several overseas stints playing in Japan, Northern Ireland and Wales.

“We were a bunch of over-40s and rugby is a contact sport so it’s fair to say there were a few pulled hamstrings and sore bodies afterwards, but I was amazed by the players and their resilience,” Grant says.

“The game was a classic example of ‘She’ll be right’, but there were a few injuries. I didn’t last long, I was subbed off after 20 minutes after I hurt a bone in my chest.”

The atmosphere on game day was incredible and the game itself was intense, he says.

“It was a pretty awesome atmosphere and really well organised. I don’t think Halcombe had ever seen anything like it.”

Grant took up cycling after rugby to keep fit and says it also gets him off the farm and socialising with others.

“I’m fit from cycling, which is low impact, but playing rugby is a whole different story. My body definitely can’t do what it used to,” he laughs.

Playing for a good cause

Hunterville sheep and beef breeder James Kilmister was subbed on for about 10 minutes for Hunterville.

“I went in hard and brutal because everyone else was. My lungs were the thing that suffered the most,” says James, who is 55.

“The atmosphere was awesome, and the game was played in good spirit. It was really great for the community and good to catch up with people I hadn’t seen in a while. The whole day was great,” he says.

“The game was played for a great cause, which is pretty close to people’s hearts. I know people who have struggled with mental health over the years, so it felt good to be supporting it,” he says.

James says there’s talk of holding another Hunterville versus Halcombe charity sporting event next year.

“The general feeling seems to be to play something a bit more low-impact, like golf, or have the rugby game every second year,” he says.

Fun to run around with mates

Hunterville sheep and beef farmer George Giesen lasted the whole game bar a couple of minutes.

The 43-year-old played for Hunterville and says the game was “brutal” but worth every minute.

“It was very cool but there were certainly some sore bodies afterwards. I was sore for a good two to three weeks after the game and had a black eye.”

George, who has five kids, says it was great to run around with his old mates again on the rugby field and to raise money for Farmstrong.

“We had a few fun training sessions in the lead up to the game and were taking the piss a bit and then on game day it was suddenly game on.”

He says he’s definitely keen to get involved next year, whether it’s another game of rugby or something a bit less hardcore.

“It was such a phenomenal day and I’m definitely keen to jump on board again.”

Photo credits: Dave Lintott Photography

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