Waimate Rugby Club has played its part in creating Heartland history.
Waimate players Theo Davidson, Loni Toumohuni, Anthony Amato, Tokoma’ata Fakatava, Henry Bryce and Miles Medlicott were all part of the 2021 South Canterbury Heartland Championshipwinning rugby squad — the first South Canterbury team to win the Meads Cup.
After being runners-up to Thames Valley in the 2018 final, South Canterbury was not about to let that happen again and thumped the Swamp Foxes 35-16 on November 14.
Davidson, the Waimate co-captain who debuted for South Canterbury in 2013, said it was the ‘‘best occasion’’ to be a part of.
‘‘It’s pretty unreal. It’s the first time South Canterbury’s ever won the Meads Cup, so it was a pretty special moment that’s for sure,’’ Davidson said.
The men in green and black never looked like losing all season, winning all eight games by big margins — the only close game being against neighbour North Otago, in Oamaru.
It has been a season to remember and Davidson put it down to the culture created on and off the field.
‘‘Everyone got on really well. We all had the same common goal and did everything we could to get there.
‘‘No-one sort of thought they were bigger than the team or anything like that, everyone was on the same page [in] wanting to go out there, have fun, and create history I suppose.’’
There had been some hard work off the field from the leadership group and coaches, which paid dividends getting ‘‘all the boys on board’’.
Coach Nigel Walsh, who had previously played for South Canterbury and coached North Otago, was a major part in that, Davidson said.
‘‘He’s got a lot of passion and all the boys really respect him — he’s a great coach to play for.’’
Personally, it had also been a big season for Davidson.
The halfback played his 50th match for South Canterbury in its away game against Ngati Porou East Coast in Ruatoria. His family travelled north to celebrate the ‘‘pretty cool’’ occasion with him.
He was stoked there was strong Waimate representation in the South Canterbury side this season.
‘‘That was pretty special. It was awesome playing with them.’’
Waimate’s senior club rugby side had been strong in recent seasons, and those who made the Heartland team had played a lot of club rugby.
‘‘I guess they’ve finally proven themselves to make the team which is pretty cool.’’
Waimate would be represented at a national level next weekend, as Fakatava and Toumohuni had both been selected in the 2021 New Zealand Heartland XV, coached by Walsh.
The team will play New Zealand Barbarians in Taupo on December 5. The game will be televised on Sky Sport at 2pm.
North Otago captain Sam Sturgess and vice-captain Hayden Todd have also been selected in the Heartland XV.