15 August 2017
Twenty-eight members of the New Zealand Defence Force are about to take the battle to Manawatu and Wellington, as the NZDF Defence Blacks rugby team faces off against the Australian Defence Force and the French Armed Forces in the 2017 Military Tri-Nations Rugby Tournament.
“While we’re comrades on the battlefield, there’s definitely serious rivalry on the rugby field,” says Colonel James Kaio, the Deputy Chairman of NZDF Rugby. “This year’s Defence Blacks team is made up of players from Navy, Army and Air Force – both regular and reserve forces. It’s a great opportunity for our Services to work together in a sporting context, and flex their muscle against some strong competition as a stepping stone towards the 2019 International Defence Rugby World Cup.”
The Defence Blacks and French will be the first to face off, when they play the curtain raiser to the Wellington Lions versus Manawatu Turbos Mitre 10 Cup match at Palmerston North’s Central Energy Trust Arena this Sunday.
“The team is looking forward to going head to head against the French team,” says Colonel Kaio. “The two teams have a strong military rugby history, and this game will commemorate 100 years since our militaries played each other in Paris in 1917 for the Somme Cup.”
The Tri-Nations Tournament then moves south to Wellington. France will take on Australia at Trentham’s Davis Field on Wednesday, 23 August, with the Defence Blacks playing Australia on Saturday, 26 August, at the same venue.
“If there’s one thing we Kiwis like more than working alongside our mates from across the ditch, it’s eyeballing them across the halfway line when a great game of rugby is about to kick off,” Colonel Kaio says.
“It’s not every day we get to see our Force for New Zealand fighting against our allies and friends, so we’d love to see local supporters taking the sidelines to watch the battle unfold, and getting behind the Defence Blacks.”
The Patron of the Defence Blacks, former Navy man and All Blacks captain Buck Shelford, will be in attendance.
The Defence Blacks-French Armed Forces curtain raiser kicks off at 2.10pm at Capital Energy Trust Arena in Palmerston North. Tickets are available from www.ticketdirect.co.nz. Australia versus France on Wednesday, 23 August, and Defence Blacks versus Australia on Saturday, 26 August, both take place at Davis Field in Trentham and kick off at 1.30pm. Admission to the Trentham matches is free.