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The Blues, alongside Mahurangi Rugby Club have made the decision to move their pre-season event – Blues Fest ’23 – away from Mahurangi Rugby Club due to the condition of the field.

The recent bad weather around the Blues region has meant ground staff haven’t been able to work on the field and after a check last week the tough decision was made to move the two games and nib Blues open training session to a new venue.

A final decision on a new location for Blues Fest ’23 is yet to be made.

Blues CEO, Andrew Hore, said the club were gutted to make the tough call.

“As a club we were getting excited to head north for the pre-season,” said Hore.

“Unfortunately, the weather has conspired against us in recent weeks and when we met with Mahurangi Rugby Club on Friday, both parties agreed the field hadn’t responded how we would’ve hoped, and the call was made to move the event.”

Mahurangi Council of Clubs Delegate, Sam Ryburn, said the club were taking a philosophical view over the change.

“We were very much looking forward to hosting the Blues at Mahurangi for Blues Fest ’23,” said Ryburn.

“There’s not a lot we can do, both The Blues and our club explored all the options before coming to this decision, but we’re hoping to continue our relationship with the Blues and look at future options for hosting pre-season matches.”

The Blues still intend to host the entire Blues Fest ’23 programme including a ‘Game of Three Halves’ between North Harbour, Northland and Auckland development players, a nib Blues women open training session and the Blues men vs Hurricanes pre-season match.

A decision on where this will be held will be communicated in the coming days.

Content & Images from – Blues Rugby

Super Rugby

Former English International to join the Highlanders



English first-five Freddie Burns will join the Highlanders for the 2023 edition of DHL Super Rugby Pacific. Burns, currently playing for Leicester Tigers in the English Premiership has agreed terms with the Highlanders, and with the support of Leicester, will land in New Zealand prior to the first round.

The 32-year-old Burns will bring with him a wealth of experience having started his first-class career with Gloucester back in 2010. His first turn at Leicester was between 2014-2017 before three seasons with Bath and Burns has over 200 appearances in the Premiership to his name. In 2021 he had a short sojourn in Japan before returning to Leicester for the 2022 season.

A former England U20 representative he represented the senior side five times most notably debuting against the All Blacks in 2012, replacing Owen Farrell, in their 38-21 victory.

A prolific goal kicker and tactically sound first-five, who can also play fullback, he was the toast of Leicester when he dropkicked the winning goal for the Tigers against Saracens in the 2022 Gallagher Premiership final.

Burns is looking forward to the experience.

“As a young lad I grew up watching Super rugby in the early hours of morning. To have the opportunity to represent such a prestigious club as the Highlanders in the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season is a huge honour. I look forward to getting started and adding to the group both on and off the field”

Highlanders Head Coach Clarke Dermody has welcomed the arrival of the experienced playmaker.

“Having a player of Freddie’s calibre available to us in such a crucial position is a real boost for the squad. Last year we were exposed at 10 due to a run of injuries and while we covered the situation, we were asking a lot of Sam Gilbert and Vili Koroi who are not regular starting first-fives. Freddie’s arrival will provide us with that extra insurance against that scenario playing out again in 2023”.

Burns will be the second international back to be added to Dermody’s 2023 squad with Argentinian outside back Martin Bogado also set to play in Highlanders colours.



Content & Images from – Highlanders Rugby

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Super Rugby

Richie Mo’unga to depart Crusaders after 2023



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Mo’unga debuted for the Crusaders on 27 February 2016, facing the Chiefs at home and scoring 13 points. He made the starting line-up for the rest of the season.


“This team has given so much to me as a rugby player and as a person, and in return I’ve always wanted to give my everything to the team both on and off the field, to help us succeed, and to be the best environment for players,” Mo’unga said.


Asked about his star first-five’s departure after the 2023 season, Crusaders Head Coach Scott Robertson said Mo’unga was “a special man”.


“If there’s one player that continues to leave their mark on this team, that’d be Richie Mo’unga,” Robertson said.


“Through his performances in the biggest games, the biggest moments – he stood up, which Crusaders do. He’s a special man, a local boy, pride of the community, and there’s no doubt about it – Richie can play.


“When Richie is on, the team is on. He brings out the best from all the players. For me, he is one of the most influential Super Rugby players ever – how he plays the game, his ability to score points consistently year after year in those crucial moments.


“The biggest thing for me with Richie is how much he cares about the team and the club, about the players he plays with and the people he plays for. He means a lot to the Crusaders and we wish him all the best. There’ll be a time to properly say goodbye to him at the end of the season, but for now we’re all focused on the job in front of us.”


Richie Mo’unga and the Crusaders kick off their 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season against the Chiefs on 24 February at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch. Memberships are available now.

Content & Images from – Crusaders Rugby

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Hallett Joins Melbourne Rebels for 2023 Super Rugby Season



The Melbourne Rebels, IRFU and Leinster Rugby are delighted to announce that Kieran Hallett has been placed in a coaching role with the Melbourne Rebels for the 2023 Super Rugby season.

Kieran is a former Ireland U21 representative who joined the IRFU and Leinster Academy team in July 2019 as an elite player development officer (EPDO).

The former outhalf previously held the position of Head Coach of the Developing Player Programme in English Premiership club Exeter’s Academy and was head coach of Plymouth Albion in National League 1.

Since returning to Ireland, Kieran has also coached with a number of Irish national sides including the Ireland Senior Women’s squad and the Ireland U19’s Men’s squad. 

The IRFU High Performance Unit has facilitated this coaching secondment in Super Rugby as part of his individual coach development program.  

Melbourne Rebels Head Coach, Kevin Foote, was excited to have Hallett join his Coaching staff. 

“I can’t speak highly enough of the talent, experience and IP Kieran brings to our coaching group. Kieran has been an integral member of Leinster’s world class player development program, while also having done a fantastic job with a number of Irish national sides,” said Foote.

“Kieran is a high calibre person, and someone that will complement the culture we’re building at our Club, so we’re really excited to have him.” 

IRFU Performance Director, David Nucifora, commented, “Kieran is a promising young coach who will benefit from an exposure to a completely difference rugby culture and competition.  

“Similarly with how Noel (McNamara) has flourished in a senior coaching role with the Sharks and prior to that with North Harbour in the NZ NPC , Kieran has a different opportunity to develop as a coach in Melbourne and push on as a coach.  

“With limited opportunities within the Irish system we have to remain open and agile to coaching exposures around the world that will hopefully ultimately benefit Irish rugby down the road.”

Kieran Hallett, commented, “I’ve always been attracted to the Melbourne Rebels since their inception in 2011. They play in a wonderful City and a place that looks fantastic to live, so when I was given the chance to come down and develop my own coaching career, it was too good an opportunity to turn down.” 

”It’s a great opportunity for me to develop as a coach and expose myself to different ways of viewing the game. 

 ”I’m really excited about coaching in a senior role and preparing for the challenges of Super Rugby before returning to Leinster Rugby in July.”

Content & Images from – Melbourne Rebels Rugby

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