The Pakuranga United Rugby Club Annual Bledisloe Luncheon was held on Friday August 24 prior to the memorable Bledisloe Cup victory the following day at Eden Park.
Now in its 13th continuous year, the club uses this function to raise funds to provide a free Professional U15 & U18 academy system for players as they move through their high school years at surrounding colleges.
The event, which this year raised around $20,000, allows the club to employ professional coaches, mentors as well as giving the teenagers advice on everything from nutrition to life skills plans.
More than $250,000 has been raised over the 13 years of the event with every dollar of it going back into coaches, the participants and providing them with academy clothing.
PURC General Manager Stephen Hackett said: “it’s no coincidence that since the academy has been in place the club has won two U21 titles, two Premier Development titles, one NZ 7s title and also, the toughest one of all, the Premier Gallaher Shield for the first time.”
This year the sell-out crowd of 230 enjoyed an excellent lunch followed by a very entertaining and informative speech from Wallabies legend Tim Horan.
“Tim was fantastic with the crowd and then also donated 20 cartoons of beer from his new venture (Brick Lane Brewery in Melbourne, which is coming to NZ soon) and a lunch the next time he is back in NZ. You could ask for nothing more in a special guest,” said Hackett.
With the phenomenal growth in women’s rugby, the club also announced that it is currently in the final stages of planning to put in place a new U18 women’s academy in 2018 to join the boys and continue to grow the game as players move through local schools.