Tokomaru Bay United carrying Ronnie Babbington's photo
She gave a great deal to Tokomaru Bay United.
The late Ronnie Babbington, who passed away in February, was — as managers of club rugby sides tend to be — a hard worker and champion for her team.
Her sons — Api Ngerengere, 27, and Liam Babbington-Ngerengere, 17 —played right wing and blindside flanker respectively in United's 20-12 win against old foes Waiapu at the weekend.
Second-year head coach Kuru Gray, whose assistant coach this year is Lisa Muller and manager is Shannon Wright, knows as well as any what the club has lost.
“Ronnie was a huge part of rugby in Tokomaru Bay,” he said.
“As well as being our manager, she was our delegate to the East Coast Rugby Union. Her photo will travel with us for every game this season, and after our last game it will be put up on the club wall,
“She was affectionately known as Aunty Ronnie, and was loved for her constant support from the sideline. She is dearly missed but remembered by all at the Tokomaru Bay United Sports Club.”
United hosted Waiapu at Hatea-a-Rangi. The crowd numbered more than 200, and they paid no mind to light drizzle throughout the game.
The match was well controlled by referee Harawira Matahiki, Gray noting his consistency.
Waiapu had 25 to 30 players and United, 27.
A delighted Gray said: “We ran out of jerseys for the first time that I can remember.”
United captain and loosehead prop Mike Raroa-Chambers won the toss; Waiapu had the wind at their backs and looked to play with good pattern from the outset, kicking for territory to corners.
Waiapu right wing Dennis Te Kahika scored the first of his two tries to open the scoring, after four minutes. His try was unconverted.
At the 15-minute mark, United openside flanker Mikaere Chaffey struck back for 5-5, with no conversion.
Veteran lock Mike Tiopira scored for the home team 38 minutes in and at halftime the state of play was Tokomaru Bay United 10 Waiapu 5.
Five minutes after the resumption, the United forward pack laid the platform for a superb try, with nine pick-and-go runs down the left of the ground. Halfback Chad Raroa-Chambers went down the blindside and gave a brilliant assist to left wing Hori Dean in the corner for 15-5.
In the 58th minute, Te Kahika completed his double. Waiapu first five Slade Tiopira converted the try to close it to 15-12.
It was the home team's skipper and player of the day, Mike Raroa-Chambers, who brought the curtain down with a try for 20-12, scoring his try — as Kahika had in the second instance — between the posts.
“It was typical pre-season rugby,” Waiapu player-coach and halfback Hamuera Baker said.
“When we held the ball, we managed to build over phases, get a bit of momentum.
“Our new No.8 Gabe Te Kani made some storming runs, fending and carrying players, and (openside flanker) Richard Green was our workhorse.
“Dennis (Te Kahika) is one of the Ruatoria City boys who have come over to us, and he looked dangerous every time he got the ball. The two tries he scored were good ones.”