Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Olympics v Western Banner

After four years, it's finally time for the global epic that is the Olympics. It's always an unparalled spectacle, and for the first time in history Beijing, China makes its debut as the Olympic host. The high emotion of the opening ceremony, the march of nations and the first few days of events will undoubtedly grab our attention this weekend.

But wait - this Saturday is also Otautau's chance at sporting glory. The Western Banner challenge is once again at our feet. A little more than a month ago, the Otautau Rugby team challenged Waiau Star for the Banner in Tuatapere and lost. This time, things are different. We have the hometown advantage and as one writer said 'arguably one of the best playing fields in Southland'.

I found a little information about the history of rugby in Otautau from Ken Bye's book Trial by Fire, Trial by Water. The Otautau Rugby Club was formed in 1875. But it wasn't until 1905 that the first challenge for the Western Banner was staged. Orepuki won it for 5 years in a row until 1910 when Otautau took it off of them. Subsequent Otautau wins occured in 1914, 1920, 1922, 1946, 1947, 1960, 1967, 1975, and 1981. Apparently there were quite a few years when Otautau didn't have a senior team and so was not in the running for the banner.

So it's been since the 1980s that Otautau could claim 'best in the west'. Let's give them all the support we can. Kick-off will be at 3pm, Saturday, at Holt Park - Otautau Aparima Logging v Waiau Star. After the game, you can go back to the tv. The splendour of the Olympics will still be on.

P.S. Does anyone have a photo of the Western Banner?

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