Saturday, May 18, 2024

Bongiovanni takes on major rugby role

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Michael Bongiovanni has started in his role as general manager for the Pakuranga United Rugby Club.

Michael Bongiovanni is the new general manager at the Pakuranga United Rugby Club.

Bongiovanni, originally from the United States, moved to New Zealand in 2013 with his wife and three children and instantly became involved in the Howick-Pakuranga community.

“I think they were pretty excited to get a sports community guy in but not necessarily a rugby guy,” says Bongiovanni.

Bongiovanni’s name may be a familiar one in the baseball community, currently also holding the title as president of the Howick-Pakuranga baseball club.

He has also run the kitchen at the Bucklands Beach Association Football Club and served on the Parish Council at Our Lady Star of the Sea, a Catholic school in Howick.

Bongiovanni has an extensive background in business management and is excited to manage the business of a sports club.

“I am excited for the future of Pakuranga United Rugby Club and the growth of the Howick Pakuranga Community Sports Centre,” Bongiovanni says.

“Increasingly sporting codes are finding ways to work together; this hasn’t always been by choice but necessity in order to survive and thrive,” he says.

Bongiovanni says he is looking forward to an exciting season ahead for the Pakuranga club, which will include a 10-year anniversary celebration of their first Gallagher Shield win, which was in 2013.

He takes over the role from John East who had a short-term stint as general manager from mid-2021.

There have also been big shifts in the coaching staff for the 2023 rugby season for Pakuranga.

Former director of Pakuranga rugby, Grant ‘Boof’ Henson, will take the reins this season as head coach of the premier men’s side, with Cole Mooney and Glen Rowe as assistant coaches.

Henson says the coaching crew is looking forward to building on the 2022 season.

“Last year we looked to improve the culture across our whole club, and the Premier team was relied heavily upon to model the behaviours that we want to strive for our people to live by,” he says.

As a coach, Henson brings plenty of experience, being involved in campaigns with the Chiefs age group and development sides, Manu Samoa and seven years as part of the coaching team for the Counties Manukau Steelers.

He also played more than 100 games for the Counties Manukau side after debuting in 1998.

Henson says the coaching group is excited for the possibilities ahead.

“Last season we used 46 players on the field for the Premiers so we believe we have developed strong depth within the club. With depth comes competition for positions and with competition comes a more intense training environment which ultimately will lead to better rugby teams,” he says.

The Pakuranga premier rugby season gets underway on April 1 when they play Grammar TEC at Bell Park.

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