Hard work, determination and a loyal band of red supporters.
Those have been the keys to success for Kurow’s premier rugby team this season. The Red Devils broke a 39-year title drought on Saturday, winning the Citizens Shield with a 24-13 victory in the final against Valley.
A deafening roar echoed around Whitestone Contracting Stadium when the final whistle blew, and Kurow supporters quickly swarmed onto the field to celebrate with the team.
Kurow captain Josh Reid, who was named in the North Otago Heartland team on Monday, knew what the win meant to the Waitaki Valley township.
Reid, who was “born and bred Kurow”, recalled running the tee and ball out for the premier team as a child, and was ecstatic with his team’s triumph.
“I’m very proud of them – this is awesome,” Reid said.
“A lot of good Kurow people have tried for the last 39 years. I’m just pleased it’s finally coming back to Kurow.
“Long may it continue.”
Kurow looked to be in for a challenge when Owen Davey’s chip-and-chase got Valley on the board first in Saturday’s final. But as it has all season, Kurow came back fighting.
Cameron Keech scored two tries, and former Highlanders and Sunwolves player Hayden Parker, whose kicking game was instrumental, also went under the posts.
It gave Kurow a 21-8 edge heading into the second half. Valley scored again in the second half, and dominated the final quarter, but Kurow showed remarkable composure to see it out.
“It’s not over until the final whistle goes. We had to defend the whole game,” Reid said.
Once that whistle went, the reality set in for the players and supporters.
“There’s people in Kurow who live for rugby season. They turn up every Saturday to watch and the people behind the scenes working for the club – it’s outstanding.
“This means a lot for Kurow.”
The team’s never-say-die attitude this season got them through to the final.
“I think it’s just not giving up.
“At the start of the year we had a couple of losses, probably didn’t stick to our game plan like we should’ve, but we readjusted and every time we were under the sticks, points against us, we kept our heads up and just worked really hard for each other.
“Kurow’s a small town so it’s hard trying to get players, we were blessed with a team this year.”
Valley co-coach Shane Carter said Kurow was the better team on the day.
“We realised that pretty quickly. They took a couple of opportunities in the first half to score two really great tries and in the end that was the difference,” Carter said.
“We fought pretty hard right to the end. We played well in the second half .. we did what we could.”
Despite the loss, it was still a successful year for Valley and Carter was proud of his team.
“We blooded a few young guys into the team, the team stood up with guys playing all out of position, especially in the backs, and that shows the calibre of the men that we had involved.”
Kurow’s party did not stop on Saturday, as players took the shield on a tour. The group was spotted still celebrating with the shield in Twizel on Monday.