Rugby is often refined to grass fields, school grounds and local parks. Occasionally, however, you may have spotted a local team training or group of friends throwing a ball around on the beach.
A condensed beach version of the internationally recognised rollicking, dynamic game is returning to Mount Maunganui after its 2022 debut and a successful six seasons in Australia. New Zealand Beach 5s Rugby is a five aside sand-based event based on modified rules of rugby. With no lineouts, no scrums, and no conversions.
It’s a game many Kiwis know, but not as you know. With the summer setting of the beach, the ocean, music, fun and hopefully sunshine, it’s a game you want to get involved with.
Beach 5s Rugby was started in Australia in 2018 from the love of the beach, both rugby union and league and the desire to offer other versions of the game to a wider audience. The event was established on Australia’s Gold Coast and grew from 11 teams in 2018 to over 110 teams in 2021 and is now held in five locations across Australia.
Mel Manley, Beach 5s Australia and New Zealand Event Manager, says the game is perfect for all ages and abilities.
“Our focus is on people and family, and running events where everyone can participate. We do not aim our events at a competitive level; although there are Premier divisions, the bread and butter are social and end-of-season and pre-season celebrations with your mates,” says Mel, “We want both rugby club teams and casual teams to get involved and enjoy fun in the sun with their mates.”
Come December, the sun will be shining, and Mount Maunganui Main Beach will be hosting the festival-type atmosphere that Beach 5s Rugby brings. Held over the weekend of Saturday 2 and Sunday, 3 December 2023, the focus is on fun, health, and participation, ensuring the whole whānau can come to the beach and enjoy the event, not just those participating.
With this event comes lots of fun, and new enjoyment to the beach scene. With a maximum of 12 players per team and unlimited substitutes, it makes it easy for players to jump on and make a quick dynamic dash and sub-off, while others will want to stay on for the whole game.
Beach 5s Rugby winners 2022 - Opotiki. Photo credit: Christian Cullen.
Local Tauranga Western Bay Community Event Fund (TWBCEF) is a partnership between Acorn Foundation, BayTrust, TECT, Tauranga City Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Council designed to simplify applying for community event funding. The Fund recently approved a grant of $10,000 to support the delivery of this event.
Wayne Werder, Chief Executive of TECT, says this event will appeal to people of all ages, regardless of whether they’re rugby players.
“Heading to the beach during summer to enjoy time with friends and family outdoors is something most Kiwis have done and will continue to do for generations. Seeing a ball being thrown about on the beach is common, and therefore the event has a natural alignment to New Zealand, and Mount Maunganui in particular,” says Wayne.
“We believe the event will bring in large participant numbers wanting to have some fun, laughter and see how they go against other teams – playing with old mates and making new ones. It’s an innovative concept which TECT, and the fellow funders are delighted to support.”
With the goal to eventually take the event nationwide in New Zealand, event organisers are hoping for hundreds of participants over the course of the weekend and to introduce people of all ages to a new sport on their favourite local beach. Teams can register via the event website here, from year 5 - 13 through to Senior Men and Women
- Seniors and All-Stars on Saturday, 2 December 2023
- Juniors on Sunday, 3 December 2023
- Premier Men’s, Premier Women’s, Men’s Social and Men’s Masters (30 yrs+)
- Colts (U21s)
- Youth (Year 5 and 6 Boys and Girls, Year 7 and 8 Boys and Girls, Year 9 and 10 Boys and Girls, Year 11 Boys and Girls, and Year 12 and 13 Boys and Girls).